Most people have heard of redshirting an athlete to preserve his or her future eligibility in a college sport. However, redshirting can also be applied to academics. As a mom of two kids “on the small side,” I have often wondered if they will be the littlest kids in their kindergarten. However, since my son was born in January, I like the fact that he will be one of the older kids when he enters school. Along with age and size, there are many reasons why parents decide to delay their child’s kindergarten entry date. Here are some things to think about before deciding whether or not to redshirt your kindergartner.
Emotional and Social Development
How mature is your child? Does your child have separation or anxiety issues? These are two reasons why parents may consider redshirting. However, there are ways to ease the transition. If you notice your child has trouble separating or is socially immature, you might want to try a “Mommy and Me” class where social skills are enforced but the parent is still around. Then, you might try taking your child to a class where the child is dropped off (or watched from afar) for about an hour. Personally, I started my daughter in preschool for three hours, two days a week. The next year, we did pre-K three hours, three days a week.
Parents are probably the best people to judge whether or not his or her child is emotionally ready for kindergarten. However, you can also find out what skills children should have at the start of kindergarten. One way to do this is to look at your school’s grade-level standards. In general, kids should be able to recognize their letters and sounds. Counting to 20 (at least), recognizing basic shapes, retelling stories and writing their name are other important skills to have. Yet, more importantly, a child should be able to listen, follow instructions, get along with others and work (or attempt to work) independently for small amounts of time. Of course, practicing fine motor skills (beading, cutting, gluing) are other desirable abilities a five-year-old should possess.
Get an Edge
In order to get a competitive edge in academics and sports, some people are electing to hold their kids out of kindergarten until they are closer to age six. Seeing how competitive sports and college admissions are these days, this doesn’t surprise me at all.
New Enrollment Rules
In my neighborhood, many school districts require that a student must be five-years-old at the start of the school year. Some schools have transitional kindergarten. According to saugususd.org, this program is utilized for students “who will turn 5 between September 1 and December 2.” Furthermore, “transitional Kindergarten is more academic than Preschool and more developmental than Kindergarten.” If you want your child to start regular school before turning five, contact your school district to see if they make exceptions.
According to abcnews.go.com, “between 4 and 5.5 percent of children delay kindergarten.” Furthermore, redshirting in kindergarten is much higher in areas with caucasian and “high-income children.” Yet, does delaying enrollment really give your child an edge? In spring 2011, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that “scores for kindergarten entry were higher for delayed-entry kindergartners and on-time kindergartners than for repeating kindergartners.” Overall, the findings on redshirting benefits are mixed.
While I wouldn’t redshirt my kids just so they could be bigger and “smarter” than their peers, I think this practice is beneficial for some. In the end, parents know their children best!
More from Melissa:
6 Skills to Work on Before Your Child Heads Off to Preschool
Have Zero Tolerance School Policies Gone Too Far?
How Involved Should Schools Be in the War on Obesity?