Kindergarten Redshirting Should Not Be The Norm
Have you heard of the term Redshirting? I had never heard the term until about 3 years ago when my oldest daughter was about to enter kindergarten. As she was finishing up her final preschool year, the hallway was buzzing with overzealous mothers inquiring whether or not others were sending their child to kindergarten in the fall. I was confused because I never knew that I had a choice.
I remember one mother asking me if I would be sending my daughter to kindergarten. I indignantly answered, “Yes. Why wouldn’t I be?” I was insulted. Did she think my daughter had some sort of deficit?
I started kindergarten at the age of 4 and I was always in the top of my class. I didn’t see why a parent would request that their child be held back or voluntarily put their child in a year of junior kindergarten rather than let them move on to actual kindergarten unless the child was developmentally delayed or extremely young for their age, in size or maturity.
My curiosity got the better of me and I really wanted to know why these parents were about to choose to hold their child back, rather than let them move ahead to kindergarten. Some of the answers I got from parents made a lot of sense and others, not so much.
One mother said she was holding her son back another year because her husband felt that it would give the little boy an advantage in size and dexterity for sports when he was older. To me, this sounded unfair to the child and a little bit like cheating.
Another mother told me that she would be putting her son in junior kindergarten to give him an extra year to catch up intellectually. At first glance this made the most sense but the more I thought about it I realized that when you start kindergarten you learn basic skills – preschool is mostly about socialization, so what exactly was the child behind in? Would holding him back only be delaying the inevitable?
The majority of the moms told me that they were considering junior kindergarten because they felt their child was not emotionally mature enough or that the child was simply still too young to handle the rigorous standard of five-day-a-week, full-day kindergarten that most schools now employ. This made sense to me because no one wants to set his or her child up for failure.
I still feel that redshirting to give your child an advantage is crazy, but in the end, parents know their child better than anyone else and we know what our children can handle and what they cannot. But at the same time, we can’t protect our children from everything that might take effort in their lifetime. Our children need to know that if you want something, sometimes you need to work really hard at it to succeed. There is a sense of accomplishment in the persistence of trying and eventually succeeding. What message are we sending to them, if we take away their chance to even try?
Image via Flickr/Surajram Kumaravel