What does “redshirting” even mean? Our education writer explains why parents may choose to delay their child’s entrance into kindergarten to allow more time for the child to develop emotionally, intellectually and/or physically.
When I first heard about “redshirting,” I thought it had something to do with a penalty call in a soccer game. Needless to say, I was surprised to learn that the term refers to the practice of delaying a child’s entrance into kindergarten to allow more time for a child to develop emotionally, intellectually and/or physically. Although the idea of holding a child back may seem foreign to some, parents have been making this difficult decision for decades. In recent years there has even been a rise in the practice.
With kindergarten curriculum looking more like first grade, many parents think that keeping their child home for another year can only help to ensure success in this high pressure, academic environment. Some parents even hold a child back to get an edge athletically. But could there be a down side to pushing off kindergarten for another year?
In my opinion, making the decision to delay kindergarten should be based solely on an individual child’s school readiness. I wouldn’t worry what other people are telling you to do because as a mom or dad, you know your child best. If you think your child may not be ready to start kindergarten, below are some tips to help you make an informed decision to have a successful start to school.
When determining school readiness, you will want to evaluate your child in three main areas: academics, emotional maturity and physical ability.
Academics. Your child does not need to know how to read upon entering kindergarten, so please don’t worry if your friends’ kids are reading Harry Potter at four years old. Children develop at different rates. As a teacher, I have seen kids who couldn’t read at all at the start of kindergarten, surpass the early readers as they move up through the grades. More important than what they know at this age, is how they learn.
In order to be successful in kindergarten, your child will need to be able to sit attentively for longer periods of time. They will also need to be able to work independently at times, as well as in cooperative groups. A child who is ready for school should show an interest in learning and be able to follow directions.
Emotional Maturity. It is difficult to know whether a child is mature enough to start school, especially when the child is your first. You want your child to be able to show a little self control while in school. If she cries easily, has a hard time separating from you or has a very short attention span, she might not be developmentally ready.
Physical Growth. Physically your child needs to be able to hold a pencil properly and cut with scissors. Shoe tying, buttoning and zippering are all skills that some children learn while in kindergarten (or even first grade) so don’t worry if these skills haven’t been mastered yet.
If you are contemplating “redshirting” your child, it is probably because one or more of these areas are concerning you. If you feel that your child is on track academically, emotionally and physically, then I would recommend sending your child to kindergarten. Although it may seem like a good idea to make things easier for your child, I have seen this backfire many times.
One of the biggest downfalls to “redshirting” is that some children become complacent when things come too easily throughout elementary school. Things can fall apart for these kids once the work gets difficult in high school and college. Ideally, a child should learn early on that they have to work in order to achieve success, for the most successful people in life tend to be those who know that failing is a natural step in becoming successful.
If there is a legitimate concern about your child’s development, then “redshirting” your child may be the answer. The extra year at home could give your child the time he needs to grow and gain the confidence he will need to be successful. But, be sure to use that extra year wisely. You can address your concerns by finding programs to help get your child on track. Preschools are an excellent way to introduce your child to the kindergarten curriculum and many of them now use similar reading programs as the school districts they reside in. Scheduling play dates with peers will encourage sharing and cooperative play, whereas spending time doing arts and crafts will enable your child to experiment with cutting, gluing and writing.
Regardless of whether you decide to hold your child back or send him to kindergarten, be confident in knowing that you did the right thing for your child. No one knows your child like you do and with your support and love, your child will be successful.
Thanks for reading,