My son will start Kindergarten when he is 5 years old. He will be 4 soon, and is all signed up for pre-k classes starting in August.
Like all kids, he excels in some areas and struggles in others. I am glad that he has those areas in which he struggles – I think he will learn more from those experiences than he will from the things that come easy to him. That is why I will not be redshirting my son.
There is a lot of talk about redshirting these days. For those of you who don’t know, redshirting is the practice of holding a child back a year so that he/she starts kindergarten at 6 instead of 5. Redshirting is a choice made by parents, not schools or developmental experts.
I have heard a number of reasons for making the decision to redshirt. Some of those reasons include:
- My child is taking longer to develop their skills in speech and communication and regularly gets frustrated because his teachers and classmates cannot understand him.
- My child still naps in the afternoons – she is just not ready to spend a full day in school.
- My child is small for his age, so I worry he will be picked on by the other kids.
- My child is taking longer to master some of the key components of a solid preschool foundation.
- I want my child to enter class academically ahead of many of her classmates so that she will be put on an advanced educational track right away.
- I want my child to be bigger and more mature than the other kids so that he will be viewed as a leader by his classmates.
- I want my child to be bigger and more mature than his peers when he is older so that he can have a better shot at making sports teams.
- I want my child to get his driver’s license before his other classmates so that he won’t be embarrassed because he can’t drive when his friends do.
I believe that some parents are making the decision because it truly is in the best interest of their child. Some kids just aren’t ready for Kindergarten at 5 – that doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with those kids – just that they are taking a little extra time to develop in certain areas.
However, I believe that some parents are focusing far too much on what they want their child to do in the future – not necessarily what the child wants to do. Whether that is a sport, an academic achievement, or avoidance of an uncomfortable situation that the parents dealt with as kids (such as being the only one who was not old enough to drive.). When a reason for redshirting starts with “I want,” vs. “My child is,” maybe a second look is necessary.
Children must learn to make their own way in the world. Challenges are what teach children to be proud of their accomplishments; learn from their failures; understand that not everything comes easily, and that hard work is important; develop the ability to cope with the frustration that comes with struggle; and gain the respect of their peers through their words and actions… not their superior size or age.
As a parent, it is my job to help them learn these things as children so that they will be happy, successful and respected as adults.
This post will be controversial. Redshirting is a subject about which people have very strong feelings. I have shared my opinion as well as the decision we have made for our son. I do, however, believe that in this great country, we all have the right to make decisions for our children. I do not think redshirting should be banned in any community – just that parents should reflect long and hard on their reasoning before deciding on the issue either way.