Should I redshirt my Kindergartener?

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.
Delaying Kindergarten one year - The reason that we decided this was the right choice for our child.

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.

TK parents

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.)

Should I reshirt my Kindergartener?


BORED?
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!

MY SUGGESTIONS
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.

Should I redshirt my Kindergartener?
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… 

FINAL THOUGHTS
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)

~ Kristy

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.

 

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SEE OUR OTHER POSTS ON RAISING YOUR KIDS

Delaying Kindergarten one year - The reason that we decided this was the right choice for our child.

photo credit: Phil Roeder via photopin cc

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…)


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Comments

  1. Kristy McKito says

    If are considering TK for your child and live in the Lake Norman area, be sure to check out Sonshine Preschool at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Cornelius. Registration for the fall is happening NOW and openings fill up fast!

    • says

      I read Outliers- our son’s endocrinologist actually told us to read it b/c we are debating holding him (April b-day) and he said that you should hold any child that you can hold & the proof is in the statistics, then he led me to this book. :) I still have not made a decision yet, but I am very happy that we held our August b-day son last year. He was ready to go academically, but he was shy. It was a wonderful decision.

  2. says

    Our son also has a late August birthday, and although we didn’t do anything very formal, we simply waited a year to start kindergarten. Yes, he was reading when he finally started school, but he was not the only one and the teacher accommodated these students. He is very confident in school and has emerged as a leader, whereas, I am not sure he would’ve otherwise. Also, he is in fifth grade this year, and I think Middle School would’ve been pretty overwhelming at this point. I have always been grateful for the extra year. No regrets.

  3. says

    I agree so much! My sons both had birthdays that allowed them to be pretty much the eldest in their classes, and it helped in every aspect of their lives. I started school early, couldn’t drive when everyone else did, and was a college student who couldn’t vote. Although I excelled academically and socially, always being the youngest gave me a chip on my shoulder it took me a long time to get rid of.

  4. says

    Great post :) Thanks for sharing at Thriving Thursday :) I’m homeschooling and started doing Kindergarten work w/ my son this year. He turned 5 in the middle of August. However, we are now having him evaluated for Aspergers (if he has it, it will be mild, but there are definitely some issues), ADD, Dyslexia, etc. to try and see what is at the root of his problems.

    When all is said and done, I wish I hadn’t given in to pressure to start him this year and had waited until next year. As it is, I have backed off, and we’re just calling this year “pre-school” now and will probably repeat/start over w/ Kindergarten again next year.

    Also, for sports and other issues, I think it would be best for boys especially to be on the “older” side rather than the “younger” side.

    • says

      I know- it is a really tough decision! Let me know what the diagnosis is after you have him evaluated. I am a play therapist (one day a week). I have a board on my pinterest page labeled “Play Therapy” if you want to check it out- it might have some helpful tools for you. Good luck. I know that is hard what you are going through (read my post under KIDS: Teaching them to just look up).

  5. says

    I do have to say though, that my bday is in October and I missed our county’s cut off by 20 days. So, I was the oldest person in my class, except for a few kids who failed/were held back. Just like the above person had problems being the youngest, I always had problems being the oldest, but I think for boys especially being the oldest would be better than being the youngest. My son is playing basketball on a kindergarten team where most of the boys are a year older than him and you can definitely tell a big difference in that one year.

  6. says

    We held my oldest (with a summer birthday) back a year and it was such a great decision for HER needs! Thank you for this information. Great Advice !! I would love to invite you to link up at our Share It Saturday linky party. We have lots of creative ideas submitted each week and you would fit right in! http://www.sugaraunts.com/2013/02/share-it-saturday-7-and-our-week-in.html

    We also are inviting all contributors to join us on our Share It Saturday Group Pinterest page as a collaborator. It is a great way to have your posts seen by new viewers! The link for the Pinterest page is on our post. Hope to see you there!

    Colleen at Sugar Aunts

    • says

      Our son has an April b-day & we are waiting (he is in TK now). Our nephew has a May b-day and they are waiting also. Two of our son’s friends (both with spring b-days) waited and they will be going together, as well. I was in your boat last year. :) This year has made a HUGE difference for him. I feel like he is ready now, where last year I would have been nervous every day. I am ready for him to go next year- and I am excited for him! :)

      Good luck with your decision. Its a tough one! You should read the book Outliers: The Story of Success (Malcolm Gladwell). I got our copy at the library. It really sheds light on the benefit of holding a spring or summer b-day child.

    • says

      It is a really hard decision, but we have held our first two kids and we plan on holding our second two. Tomorrow’s post will hopefully shed some light on that for you, too. Read Outliers. Our son’s Dr. told us to read that one. Our library had copies. It was really helpful! :) Good luck!!

  7. Anonymous says

    I’m doing this anonymously, because if I sign my name, it will look like I’m bragging, when in reality I’m just trying to provide basic information for those in a similar situation.

    I’d like to provide the opposite perspective: I was born ON the cutoff, – and was the youngest in my class. I have a fairly normal intelligence – nothing spectacular – but good enough. It was GREAT for me. Then I skipped a grade – which was even better. I finished high school at 16, and college at 20. I could not have borne to sit in high school until I was 18 years old. Personality & temperament-wise, it would have crushed me, and I may well have dropped out.

    My elder sister had an IQ well above Genius, but being born after the cutoff, was almost the oldest in her class. It was catastrophic for her academically & socially both. She was bored silly, and never thrived in school. The social issues she had were a part of her personality, and she never did “outgrow” them.

    My daughter is in homeschool Kindergarten now. She is thriving, even though she “not old enough” to be in kindergarten. She is reading on a 4th grade level, is a couple of years ahead in math, and is doing great in all her subjects. She’s doing great socially, too. BUT, the pubic kindergarten might not have let her in this year because she is not “self sufficient in personal care” and cannot “follow three instructions without being reminded.”

    To me, the purpose of school is academic – and if your child is ready academically, you do a GREAT disservice by holding them back. I find myself being almost angry when people say “no one has ever regretted waiting another year” – it’s just not true.

    I don’t want to be argumentative, but I do want to provide the other view.

  8. Nancy says

    We waited on public kindergarten for both of our kids, who were within days of the cutoff. They are now 20 and 23, and I never regretted the decision. They were both already reading at 5, but our local schools gave them plenty of challenging work. It came down to this: if they were bored academically, I could compensate. If they were challenged socially, there was little I could do.

  9. Holly says

    We held our daughter back as she was just on the cut off line with a September birthday. She was premature and was not ready in our eyes to start kindergarten. She will be in first grade this fall and is on and above the levels she should be. She finished with speech therapy half way through her kindergarten year. We made the decision to hold our youngest back last fall. He knew things like numbers , colors, the alphabet, and some sight words. I too couldn’t imagine putting him on a bus and not worrying daily that he would get to where he should be. He too was a preemie and just was not socially ready yet. By keeping him where he was he got tons of daily one on one time with two teachers and a class max of 12. By December we saw a huge difference in him. He had more focus, could sit still in large groups quietly. He is very excited to start k this year and I feel so much better about it then I did when we were thinking about it last year. It is a hard decision to make but I do not regret making them.

  10. says

    A really fascinating discussion and halfway through the post, I was saying ‘wow this sounds like the point Gladwell made in Outliers’ – only to see several other commenters cite it.

    I think it is really dependent on the child. I’m an August-born, as is my husband but we always excelled in school and never really felt the difference.

    However I think for most children it can make a difference. I’m from Barbados and the secondary school system here (equivalent to middle and high school, going from age 11-16 or 18) is streamed based on academic ability which is assessed by national testing.

    The high school I attended is the school for the very top performers (about 120 kids enter each year out of around 4000) with entry grades between 100-88%.

    When I read Outliers, it occurred to me that 1) I knew a LOT of September and October born people from school and 2) how few August borns there were. In my whole year, there were 5 of us.

    When I checked our roll call books (annual booklets which listed every kid in the school and their age at Sept 1), it confirmed it. TONS of September, October and November born kids in every year and the numbers dwindled as you got further on in the school year.

    So clearly there is a major advantage to being among the eldest in your school year.
    That said, our daughter is born in June but we let her start preschool with the children in her ‘school year’ because she’s advanced for her age and thus far, she’s been doing well.

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