This post was originally published a year ago, in February 2013, but with many of my friends debating the issue, I have decided to re-post it and update it today.
Many parents, including myself, have either asked this question ” Should I redshirt my Kindergartener? ” or have decided to “redshirt” their Kindergartner, already. This has become much more popular as school is becoming harder for our young children. Although it seems to be happening more and more, I had to make the decision for myself.
According to ABC NEWS, “We find substantial variation in practices across schools, with schools serving larger proportions of white and high-income children having far higher rates of delayed entry,” noted the report, “The Extent, Patterns, and Implications of Kindergarten ‘Redshirting,'” issued in April 2013.
Giving your child the extra year of growth by putting them in a Transitional Kindergarten or keeping them home an extra year is a tough decision and it is one that only you can make!
I was the youngest child in my class growing up (August birthday). My husband was the oldest in his class. We both did well, but I struggled where he didn’t. Things came easier to him. Thankfully, I was able to flourish socially (I was very involved with clubs, friends, etc…) where I lacked physically (I liked sports, even if they didn’t like me! haha!) or academically (I was happy with a B, where my husband earned straight A’s). Once I entered college, I earned A’s because I was very interested in what I was learning, so I studied more and I enjoyed it.
I wanted our children to have the very best start and with our first son, it was an easy decision. He was born a month early, putting him at the very end of the Kindergarten cut-off (August 29th) so we held him. He is now in first grade and is doing extremely well in all areas: academically, socially and physically (fine & gross motor skills). My only drawback is that he tends to be more mature than a lot of his school classmates (he is just a more mature kid, in general… just like many first children). He is drawn to kids older than him (two and three years older than him), but he also enjoys playing with kids his own age, so I’m sure this will even out.
With our second son, he is currently in the 5 year old TK preschool class because he just was not ready, in my eyes. His maturity was not where I wanted it to be to attend an all-day school. I couldn’t imagine putting him on the bus. I didn’t want him to get into trouble for giggling at the wrong times, etc… I can tell you, as a teacher, the reputation that your child gets in Kindergarten will follow him throughout his school career, unfortunately.
Teachers share advice & information, to help other teachers, but sometimes it has a negative effect.
Example: “You have ____? Just be sure to put him in the front. He has some trouble listening.”
or “Oh! You have ____? He is so quiet! Don’t expect to get much out of him.”
Or “Did you get _____ this year? He is really smart.” Good or bad, their reputation follows them.
My brother, an assistant principal at a local high-school, used to teach high school Calculus and he would tell other teachers that he didn’t want to know anything about his new students- he wanted to set his own opinion of each student. I have always admired that.
Anyways, my very dear friend, Kristy McKito, is sharing a post with us today. She has her child enrolled in the TK (5 year old transitional kindergarten) class at her preschool and wrote this to future parents. I also have my child in a TK class (he could have gone onto Kindergarten, but we chose to wait to send him.)
She and I share similar views on many topics and she is a wonderful resource for many subjects, including this one.
Here is what Kristy has shared…
Dear Prospective TK Parent,
If this introduction got your attention, you have probably been thinking about if TK will be a good fit for your child.
Let me share my perspective with you…
WHO AM I?
I am a former Kindergarten teacher and currently work as a Developmental Play Therapist for North Carolina’s Early Intervention program.
I am also a parent of a TK graduate (class of 2012) and I plan on sending my rising 5 year old to TK in the fall.
THE GIFT OF TIME
I have no regrets about giving my child the ‘gift of time’ and I’m happy to share her experience with you!
What is all the hype about the ‘gift of time’? This gift has been without a doubt a huge contributor to my child’s success in Kindergarten this year.
The “gift of time” allowed my child to:
Continue to learn through play based activities. (Research proves that the best way for young children to learn is through play. However, most public schools have no time to implement play based activities into their rigid academic schedules.)
Strengthen fine motor skills (Learning how to properly hold a pencil and write letters and words in proper formation is a skill that is no longer taught, but expected in Kindergarten.)
Learn at her own pace without pressure or a timeline of learning objectives. (Yes, she did learn many NEW things beyond letters and numbers and was reading upon entering Kindergarten.)
Gain confidence in her knowledge and abilities. Her fear of failure subsided. An “I can do it!” attitude emerged.
Grow spiritually (Daily opportunities for prayer, biblical based discussions and weekly chapel lessons with peers and teachers helped tremendously with this growth.)
Grow socially and emotionally. (She is an introvert by nature. She may always be an introvert. However, an extra year in an environment that was already familiar to her, gave my daughter another year of opportunities to develop positive interpersonal relationship skills with peers and adults.)
The main concern I hear from other parents who are undecided about TK is: “I worry he/she will be bored in Kindergarten!”
My TK graduate is thriving in Kindergarten and IS NOT BORED! Why?
Teachers are encouraged and expected to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the students.
She is part of a literacy enrichment group to further support and enhance her literacy skills.
She has become a leader in the class and enjoys helping others.
Her confidence has enabled her to take risks without fear of being wrong or not doing it the right way. She challenges herself and sets herself up for success!
Think about the whole child.
Is he/she ready: Physically? Socially? Emotionally? Intellectually? Can he/she take care of personal needs without adult intervention? If even one piece of the puzzle is missing, your child may benefit tremendously from TK.
Think beyond Kindergarten.
Do you want your child to always be one of the youngest in the class or would you prefer for him/her to be one of the oldest? Consider the middle school and high school years and all the developmental, social, emotional and academic challenges that occur during those tween and teen years. Think about sending your child off to college as he/she JUST turns 18…
****Base your decision on more than just Kindergarten.****
Think of years down the road: third grade, sixth grade, ninth grade, a freshman in college…
I know many parents who say, “I wish I would have sent my child to TK”, but have yet to meet a parent who says “I wish I hadn’t done it.”
Personally, I am not in a hurry for my children to grow up. I honestly believe that by choosing TK, I gave my child an extra year of childhood. We embrace it together!
STILL UNDECIDED? I recommend reading these books:
Outliers: The Story of Success (Malcolm Gladwell)
Better Late Than Early (Raymond Moore)
Kindergarten: It Isn’t What It Used to Be (Susan K. Golant and Mitch Golant)
Now it is time for you to decide: should I redshirt my Kindergartener?
Read this post about helping Your Child Learn to Read or this one on Teaching your child their letters & sounds in one week! If you are looking for reading advice, here is a post that I wrote about What your child’s teacher wished you knew about reading.
What are your thoughts? There are pros and cons to both… where do you fall? (Remember to be kind because your comments are seen by other readers- this post is to help parents with this decision…)