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Evolved Mommy | October 16, 2019

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Kindergarten Redshirting | Best Practice or Unfair Advantage - Evolved Mommy

My daughter’s birthday falls very near the kindergarten age cutoff for Arkansas, as did mine.
I swore I’d never do that to a child, but childbearing is not as predictable as I had assumed it woud be.

Of course, we think our nearly-three-year-old is absolutely brilliant and the idea of an extra year before kindergarten is almost unfathomable.

kindergarten redshirting

And then I remember high school.

At thirteen I was hardly mature enough for some of the situations I encountered, not that anyone really is ever mature enough to safely navigate the halls of an all-girls Catholic school without getting into a little mischief.

So when I went to meet with our daughter’s pre-school director, I was a bit panicky about her high school years. (If you’re new here I freak out way ahead of time for EVERYTHING.) The very sweet, kind, patient woman I met with made a valid point:

“Why rush her? Who wouldn’t want to spend an extra year being a kid, and it’s better to start late (and perhaps skip a grade later) than to be held back.”

This year Charlie will start three-year-old pre-school, next year she’ll be in four-year-old pre-school and then she will move to something called “transitional kindergarten”, which is a somewhat common thing here I’ve learned. Because the cutoff has moved to August lots of kids fall into this situation. The next year she will go to regular kindergarten… at nearly six.

But Charlie is brilliant. She could ace kindergarten now. If we go with this plan she’ll be bored to tears her first year of big-kid school, and then what? Behavioral problems?

The option then is to subvert the state system and either home-school for kindergarten or put her in a private school (which we have no intention of leaving her in since the public schools in Northwest Arkansas are so good) and then move her to 1st grade. It’s weird and difficult to explain, but essentially this would make her the youngest in her class versus being the oldest.

While we’re busy debating the ethics and merits of going around the system, it turns out there is this national trend of “Redshirting” kindergarteners.

Evidently, parents (mostly of boys & who have read Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’) are intentionally holding their kids back a year, so that they will be the biggest in their class and have an advantage in sports. And academics, I suppose.

Well meaning parents are doing this. Remember when parents tried so hard to get little Jeremy to skip a grade? That was the smarty-pants yuppy thing to do. Now, let’s keep him back a year. What a switch!

Kindergarten redshirting was highlighted in a recent 60 minutes story, prompting me to post about it on Facebook, where I sparked a lively discussion. In my very unscientific poll it seems that boys do well with the extra year to mature, while girls are usually ready for kindergarten at a very young age.

On Twitter one of my friends made an interesting argument that perhaps this trend is partly to blame for the upswing in bullying, since there are now kids up to two years apart in age in the same class.

What are your thoughts?


Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user WoodlyWonderWorks (c)