There are always new buzzwords in the world of education and parenting. For example, we have been hearing about “grit” and “sensory integration” a lot lately, but one idea that I hear a ton of chatter about as a mom of a preschooler and as a teacher is the question of kindergarten readiness. The term “redshirting” is often used in sports settings; it refers to holding your child back a year in order to allow him or her to mature physically in order to be a stronger player during the four years of eligibility in college. ”Redshirting” in kindergarten refers to the idea of giving your child an additional year of preschool so that they are better prepared for kindergarten the following year. That preparedness could be in age, social-emotional development, physical size or academic readiness. I have been reading a lot about this issue lately and here are some good reasons I have found to either redshirt your child or not. Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, there are statistics and anecdotal evidence to support your choice. Ultimately, it is up to you as the parent to make this choice for your child.
Reasons for one more year of preschool:
- Not enough social development – Some children need a little more time to mature and foster their social relationships. If a child is with a parent or caregiver before 3 years old and then at preschool for a few hours a week until 5, the opportunities for social interaction are lacking compared to children who have been exposed to daycare settings or full time preschool. These kids may benefit from an extra year of socializing at preschool before being put into a full time kindergarten program.
- Get a leg up – Student confidence plays a big role in the willingness of a child to be an active participant in the classroom. If your son or daughter is on the younger side and you decide to hold him or her back a year, they may be able to take that time to grow their confidence in preschool. They could learn the “tricks of the trade” that will be required them in many of today’s kindergarten programs, and when the go the following year, they may be more ready to learn.
Reasons for sending your child to kindergarten:
- Affordability – Kindergarten is free. Most preschool programs in America are not and it’s a stretch for many American families to send their kids to preschool. Since school is not a legal requirement for kids until age 6, many poor kids don’t get any schooling before kindergarten. According to this article, redshirting ranges from “2% in poorer school districts to 27% in wealthier ones.” Free education is a wonderful tool that helps support all of us.
- Rising to the occasion – There is a well known quote by Henry Ford that says, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right.” It is my experience that people will rise to meet the bar – no matter where you set it. If I encourage my child to learn, he will learn. Of course every child has strengths and weaknesses, but they are capable of much more than we allow them to be at an early age. I will never forget the day my son’s daycare teacher showed me that my 2-year-old son could (and did!) clear his own plate into the garbage after snack and then wash his own hands. I was shocked! (And free of doing that chore myself!) He has been doing it on his own ever since. Letting our kids explore, make mistakes and find creative solutions is one of the best things we can do for them.
- Closing the age gap – The practice of redshirting kids for kindergarten leaves a huge gap between ages in the classroom. Yes, there will always be an oldest and a youngest student, but now the range of ages can reach up to 18 months in a single classroom. That is a huge gap in age when you are young. The difference between a 4 ½ year old and a 6 year old is enormous when it comes to social-emotional awareness, physical development and academic capability. Closing the age gap gives kids a better chance for success among their actual peer group.
What are your thoughts? Do you know anyone who is considering redshirting or who has? What was their experience?