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Elementary School Kids Elementary School Kids

What Do You Think About Redshirting?

Posted by on Sep. 18, 2012 at 1:58 PM
  • 82 Replies
1 mom liked this

I Redshirted My Kid & It Was the Best Parenting Decision I Ever Made

Posted by Linda Sharps

You've probably heard about the practice of "redshirting" -- holding a kid back from kindergarten until they start at age 6. People say it's unfair, and that parents do it to give their children an advantage that cheats the system. At 6, after all, Junior is one of the oldest kids in class, and theoretically better at everything from academics to sports. More boys are redshirted than girls, whites more than minorities, and rich more than poor.

It's funny that I never heard about how controversial redshirting was until I'd redshirted my own kid. Now that he's just started first grade (at 7), I try to ignore the outcry over this issue that's apparently irresponsible, classist, and erodes the level playing field that age restrictions are supposed to create.

Because I can tell you this: it was absolutely, completely, without a doubt the right decision for us to make.

It was a hard decision, I can tell you that. We went back and forth about it for months, and in the end I went with my gut and hoped for the best. See, my son's birthday is August 31, which so happens to be the cutoff date for kindergarten in our then-home state of Washington. My choices were this: start him at 5, when he'd be the very youngest kid in class, or wait a year until he was the very oldest.

I didn't particularly love either option, but I had to pick one. We talked to his daycare/preschool teacher, we considered his personality, we asked people who had faced a similar conundrum.

Ultimately, I knew he'd be fine academically, but I had misgivings about his maturity level. Of particular concern was the fact that he was plagued with sensory issues back then -- paranoid about sudden loud sounds, prone to hysteria over a scraped knee. If I'd been working outside of the house, I probably would have gambled that he'd eventually be fine in kindergarten, but because I'd just started working from home, I decided I'd keep him home for a year.

So that's what I did. After a year of quasi-homeschooling, he started kindergarten when he was 6 years old.

I know it was the right choice because he adjusted perfectly to kindergarten. He wasn't bored, he didn't have behavioral issues (a common argument against redshirting, because older kids may be too bored); he was happy and fit right in. He didn't look bigger than the other kids, he looked exactly the right age. He'd outgrown many of his noise/texture/sensation freakouts, and even came home jabbering with excitement over the school's first fire drill because wow, it was SO LOUD AND COOL!

My boy started first grade here in Oregon earlier this month, and again he seems like he's exactly where he's supposed to be. I imagine/hope this year will be much like last: he won't be the most advanced kid in class, but he'll do just fine.

The decision to wait a year wasn't easy, and I'd never advocate that it's the right choice for every family. We didn't do it to try and raise a sports star or a mathlete, we did it because we believed it was the best option for our child. I wish redshirting wasn't so controversial, but I'm incredibly grateful it was an option for us.

Still, I'm equally thrilled my second son's birthday is in February. Whew.

What do you think about redshirting?

by on Sep. 18, 2012 at 1:58 PM
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Replies (1-10):
huskermom98
by Silver Member on Sep. 18, 2012 at 2:06 PM

I think it depends on the child--parents shouldn't be doing just because everyone else is.  Our oldest is a May birthday and towards the end of his second (last) year of preschool he started acting up a lot so our preschool teacher commented that maybe he's not quite ready for kindergarten.  It made us stop and think, but ultimately we knew that he was more than ready academically and pretty much there socially so we really didn't see any benefit to keeping him out for one more year...and we were right.

chinosruca
by Gold Member on Sep. 18, 2012 at 2:20 PM
I would not ever do it. But, to each their own.
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natesmom1228
by on Sep. 18, 2012 at 2:42 PM

I have actually never heard of the term.

Sonya-x
by on Sep. 18, 2012 at 2:42 PM
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I am a teacher, and I will tell you that if the child's birthday falls in that 8 week range before the cutoff, I don't even consider it "holding back" or whatever term you want to use-I think it's plain common sense to seriously consider having your child start K at 6 if they are born in July or Aug with a Sep 1 cutoff. I have taught several grade levels and can tell you that being that youngest in the class does a child no favors, and your summer birthday kid will be almost an entire year younger than the oldest kids- and those older kids weren't even "redshirted". (I seriously abhor that term, I think unless the parent is specifically holding a kid out for sports reasons which is ludicrous, btw, it shouldn't even be used). Parents who are not experts in child development have absolutely no reason to judge the summer birthday kids who wait to start at 6- they will after all, be the SAME AGE as their peers- they all turn 6 that year. Unless of course they are a summer birthday kid who didn't wait- which in that case, you knew your kid was going to be a year younger than the oldest kids anyways so you were obviously fine with that fact and should have nothing to say about it.
So, I wish it werent' controversial either, and for familes with summer birthdays like your son, it should be a complete NON ISSUE. If you are turning 7 while you are still in K, however, that is a completely different story.

mom1il
by on Sep. 18, 2012 at 2:49 PM

My kids both have later summer birthdays (end of July and end of August). This was never a consideration for us.

The one that is currently in 3rd grade was bored to tears with preschool. The one who is currently 4 is clearly going to be ready for kindergarten next year. 

If I had a child who I wasn't sure was ready, I'd consider waiting to start but luckily we haven't been in that situation.

bebcarroll
by on Sep. 18, 2012 at 2:54 PM

We unintentionally red-shirted our oldest. The cut off in our state is really late. (December 1) My oldest's birthday in in August and we thought about putting her in the year she turned 5 and realised that she would be one of the youngest in her class.  We knew from our own experiences that this might not be the best plan. (My husband was the youngest kid in his class ( he had just turn 4! when he started kindergarten, and later down the road, he ended up being held back.)  My Birthday is right around his and I was one of the oldest in my class and I was selected to be skipped at one point (my parents vetoed that) I had an easy time at school and he suffered all the way through).  So, we put her in right after she turned 6, she was more than a year older than some of the kids in her class and yes, now in first grade they are talking about skipping her, but I want to make sure she knows everything from 1st grade first.  If we don't she probably will have an easier time in school and I would rather that than struggling.

I can see how some would see it as elitist and as an issue.(poorer parents cannot afford another year of daycare, as for a level playing field ... really, there will always be ways in which other children are not the same, this is the least of it.  If it is right for the child then, go for it. ) But I believe parents should do what is right for their child, at that point in time, not to get them on the high school foot ball team in 10 years.

birdandchicks
by Member on Sep. 18, 2012 at 3:33 PM
1 mom liked this

 I started my twins late.  They have an August birthday and the cut off is 9/1.  I've known lots of people with birthday's around my girls that wished they had started one year later.

But it's a personal decision. At the time one had speach issues. They are also both very small.  (not a reason to make that decision but it didn't hurt)

I hate it when people say parent "redshirt"  in order for the child to excell better than his peers.  That is not the reason most people will start a child late.  It's about making sure the child has a positive educational experience (as an individual) not making the child better than the other kids.

One unintended issue however.  Since my girls are the oldest but the smallest in the class this gets noticed.  They came home in first grade wanting to know what i did to make them the oldest. 

Taviesmommy
by New Member on Sep. 18, 2012 at 3:47 PM

 I have never heard this term used before in this context.

My children have Spring birthdays, so I don't have to worry about this, but I think that you have to consider your child's personality. I would not hesitate to wait a year if that was what was best for my child. I had an August birthday and did not start school until I was 6. I think it was the best decision my parents made, as school was always easy for me. My best friend had a July birthday and started a year before me and then ended up being held back in 1st grade.

 

jen113000
by Jenna on Sep. 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM
Me either.

Quoting natesmom1228:

I have actually never heard of the term.

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mommasaint
by on Sep. 18, 2012 at 4:04 PM

I 100% agree with you. Our DS has a late August b-day (cutoff for our district is September 15th) and you would not believe how many parents have commented on us "red shirting" him. I actually had to point out to his best friend's mom (whose son has an October b-day) that our DS is only 5 weeks older then hers lol. He's done well in school and is the same age and at the same maturity level of his peers. 

I never even considered waiting on any of my other children who turned 6 during their Kindergarten year. 

Quoting Sonya-x:

I am a teacher, and I will tell you that if the child's birthday falls in that 8 week range before the cutoff, I don't even consider it "holding back" or whatever term you want to use-I think it's plain common sense to seriously consider having your child start K at 6 if they are born in July or Aug with a Sep 1 cutoff. I have taught several grade levels and can tell you that being that youngest in the class does a child no favors, and your summer birthday kid will be almost an entire year younger than the oldest kids- and those older kids weren't even "redshirted". (I seriously abhor that term, I think unless the parent is specifically holding a kid out for sports reasons which is ludicrous, btw, it shouldn't even be used). Parents who are not experts in child development have absolutely no reason to judge the summer birthday kids who wait to start at 6- they will after all, be the SAME AGE as their peers- they all turn 6 that year. Unless of course they are a summer birthday kid who didn't wait- which in that case, you knew your kid was going to be a year younger than the oldest kids anyways so you were obviously fine with that fact and should have nothing to say about it.
So, I wish it werent' controversial either, and for familes with summer birthdays like your son, it should be a complete NON ISSUE. If you are turning 7 while you are still in K, however, that is a completely different story.


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