When I was pregnant the first time, and people learned I was due in August with a boy, they often gave the advice that I should hold him back a year from starting kindergarten. This practice is known as “redshirting” and is common in some areas of the country and particularly for boys with summer birthdays. Like many parenting decisions, some argue you should never red shirt a child with a summer birthday or you should always red shirt them, and before you know it, the issue becomes a topic of debate.
I have a September birthday and started college at age 17. I never minded being one of the youngest students and it certainly never affected academically or socially. I decided early on that I would make the decision based on the type of child Science Kid grew to be.
Then at the age of 2, he was diagnosed with autism and I was told he was at least 8 months delayed in speech. He was even more delayed socially and emotionally. At that time, I decided I would redshirt him and send him to kindergarten at age 6. I shared my plan with his preschool teacher, who was horrified and told me in no uncertain terms that he needed to go to kindergarten on time even with a birthday 11 days from the cut-off.
Research has shown that redshirting does not offer a clear cut solution. I considered whether Science Kid might benefit later in middle and high school from being an older student, but research shows . When I researched, I found only anecdotal evidence to support redshirting as being positive but all the research supported sending a child on time, even a boy with a late birthday.
Still on the fence after my researching, I opted to seek out an educational evaluation with a neuropsychologist. Science Kid loved the extra attention and enjoyed showing off for her. I, however, was not prepared for her findings: he was ready for kindergarten and doing 1st grade math and reading already.
She explained that bright kids who are not challenged in school often cause more behavior problems and I ultimately decided to enroll him. I am proud to report that Science Kid is in a new year-round school (thanks to our summer PCS) and will have been a 1st grader for 5 weeks before turning 6.
What to Consider Before Reshirting Your Child for Kindergarten:
– talk to their preschool teacher and ask their opinion, as they often have a good idea of how the student is in a class setting
– figure out what you plan to do with your child to prepare them for school and work on their delayed skills
-have a kindergarten readiness evaluation
Determining the right time for your child to start school is a personal decision. Each parent knows their child best, but it is important to make the decision with your head not your heart. Yes, I cried when Science Kid started kindergarten and again when he started 1st grade. It was important to me to not let my fear for him hinder his progress. Besides, it has been so much fun to give him wings and watch him soar!
Did you redshirt your child? Are you considering redshirting your child? What are your thoughts on this practice?