Should I redshirt my Kindergartener?

If you are asking yourself Should I wait another year to send my child to Kindergarten, you have come to the right place (I hope!).  I have had to make this decision about Kindergarten with two children so far and I will make it with two more, but my answer will probably stay the same…

should you wait to send your child to Kindergarten


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.

I didn’t take this decision lightly.  It is a hard decision 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, in the end, 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).   However, 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.  

When your child is on the borderline of birthday to start date, it is a hard decision.  We waited to send our son because he was born just two days before the cut-off (and he was a month premature).   We waited to send our second son, born in the spring.  This choice was MUCH harder, but we know now that we did the right thing.

Our pediatrician told me that if we have a child born AFTER March, we should wait to send them (the cut-off here is September 1st).    Maturity levels play a big part in this.   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.   As a teacher, it was best to have a blind eye and deaf ear to the “advice” about students coming up the next year…

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 many answers out of him.”
Or “Did you get _____ this year?   He is really smart and so polite.”  Good or bad, their reputation follows them.

Today my very dear friend, Kristy McKito, is sharing her side of the story.  She has her child enrolled in the TK (5 year old transitional kindergarten, also called Pre-K) class at her preschool and wrote this to future parents.   She and I share similar views on many topics and she is a wonderful resource for many subjects, including this one.

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

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…

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.

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 I 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!

should I redshirt my Kindergartener?

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)

I hope this was helpful,



have a litte faith in me

teaching letters in one week


what your child's teacher wished you knew about reading

5 things your child should know before starting Kindergarten

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…)

photo credit: Phil Roeder via photopin cc




  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.

      • Monica says

        Hi :) here in Europe things work a bit differently. My daughter is a July baby and will turn 3 this summer. She is meant to be starting “pre-school” this September. This is like a government sponsored nursery for about 3 hours a day and is not compulsory. Kids then would start their proper schooling the following year. My daughter is bright and sociable but a part of me feels uncertain about starting her in formal schooling when she has just turned 3. It is virtually unheard of for anyone here in my country to turn down the prechool but I am having serious doubts. Those I have voiced this to think I am being over-protective and that it would not be good for her if I keep her home one more year. At the end of the day I want to do what is best for my daughter. I have sent the application forms in and will have to make a decision in the next few months. It is hard sometimes to go against what is considered the “norm”, especially when there are so many strong opinions on pre-school being good for them for social skills and to not give her an dis-advantage when she starts proper school at 4 years old when all her class friends would have all gone to preschool. I am unsure if she is ready this year. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.

  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!

    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.

  11. says

    This could not have come at a better time! My oldest son will be starting Kindergarten this coming Fall. He has a March birthday, but most of the children in his class are a year older than him.My husband and I have been debating for awhile now what we should do. He is definitely ahead for his age and much more mature {at least thats what his teacher tells us}. I always worried if I held him back then I would have to hold me second child back as well otherwise they would be in the same grade. The cut-off is Sept 1. here too but it seems like more and more people are starting to hold their children back {esp. boys} another year. It has become the norm in our school district. As much as I would LOVE that extra year with him I think he may be ready to start Kindergarten…? I would hate to see him behind everyone else as he gets older though.

  12. M says

    We are deciding what to do for our preschooler. My experience in school was different than many other commenters. You say older children won’t be bored but they can be. I was one of the oldest in my class, October birthday and the state moved the cutoff to September 1st that year. I wish someone told me people skip grades when I was in elementary school. I was doing multiplication in 1st grade but there were too many students for the teacher to help me. I sat to the side while she helped others with subtraction. Similar stories all through school. I would routinely fall asleep in high school calculus, rarely got a B. I didn’t disrupt class, so no one cared that I wasn’t challenged.
    My sister with an August birthday wasn’t held back and seemed to fit better in her grade. She didn’t graduate as high in her high school class, but went on to law school and is doing great. We are 3 years apart in age but were 2 years apart in school.
    I just wanted to share the other perspective, that giving a child more time isn’t always a gift.

    • says

      Thanks for the perspective. I think it is different for each child. Our son is very smart – performing years ahead of his peers (academically), but his leadership skills have really grown this year and for him, that is what we needed (he was very timid, etc…) I think it really does depend on the child. :) Thanks again!

  13. Even Permutation says

    As a man who was redshirted, I must say I hated it. A lot of parents say they redshirt to children to give them an academic advantage, but let me ask: How do they have an academic advantage over all their peers when they’re a year behind all their peers? How are they ahead if they’re in second grade when they’re supposed to be in third. This is why I would never redshirt my kids. I’d much rather they be doing okay in the grade they’re supposed to be in then be doing spectacularly being a grade behind. Doing better than kids a year younger than you is nothing to be proud of, and I want to be proud of my kids. Part of glory is doing things early, and if I redshirted my kids, they would be deprived of any academic glory, like I was. So don’t redshirt your kids. If anything, try to get them tested in early. Becoming valedictorian is really nothing to be proud of unless you were against kids your own age or older.

    • says

      I think each child is SO different for this. I think that academics is the least of most parent’s worry when it comes to redshirting. My view was always on maturity, leadership, etc… I think that most kids are ready for K when they go, because if they aren’t, the teachers will prepare them. Our kids have always done very well with academics and are preforming years ahead of where they are, but as far as being leaders and having more confidence, maturity, etc… waiting to send them has been the right decision for us. To each their own… thanks for your input on it! I love to hear what others have to say about it. :)

  14. says

    Well, things are a little different where I live (Alberta, Canada). Most cutoffs here are March 1st of the next year. So I could send a 4 your old to kindergarten if they turn 5 before March 1st of the next year! In practice a fair number of people don’t send kids to kindergarten if they have January or February birthdays and a few school districts are adopting a December 31st cutoff – still a lot later than many school districts in the States seem to be with September 1 cutoffs.

    Anyway, my oldest had a December birthday and my youngest a late November birthday and for both I chose to “red-shirt” (not that I’ve ever heard that term used around here) after some wonderful advice. Neither showed signs of major academic advance, and I wasn’t worried they’d be bored. I knew that in their cases they would do well with extra time before starting school. Still, even being pretty confident in my choices, I wondered if I should have pushed them ahead instead.

    This year, my oldest is 13yo. He is one of the oldest in his grade. And I am now a million percent sure that we made the right choice to not rush him off to school when he was only 4. The tween/teen years are another whole ball of wax!!! I see some of his younger classmates struggling with maturity. Ok, even he still struggles, but it’s very easy to see the difference it makes in being 13 and facing some choices and being 12 and making those same choices. He likes being one of the older kids and he especially likes knowing he’ll get to drive a car before many of his friends lol. I highly recommend that anyone making this choice really give some thought to these teen years more than just the kindergarten year. Kids can manage pretty well in kindergarten even if they are younger, but the social choices and other things they face in middle/high school usually benefit from kids who are older and a little more mature.

  15. says

    Stupid question.. what is TK?

    I have an August 8th child and it has just occurred to me that I’ll likely keep him at home until next year. Poor thing would be 4 years old in Kindergarten for a while. One more year with him at home is fine by me 😉

  16. Kelli Dougan says

    I have just published a book about Kindergarten Redshirting that covers a lot more items that parents need to be aware of. You can find it on Amazon.

  17. LT says

    I find this thread interesting as here in Ontario full-day kindergarten has been adopted in the last few years. Junior Kindergarten/J.K is for youngsters who turn 4 before Dec 31. This means that my 3 year old with an October birthday is slated to start full-day junior kindergarten this September. I struggled with my decision, but ultimately decided to pay to put her in a friendly, local montessori for just 2 days a week. I am under the impression that some people think I am coddling my child or am too attached, but all day in a formal school setting for a 3 year old seemed like far too much to me. I want her to still have time to play, to muck, and to just be a kid. I also want my time with her too. It all goes too quickly! I am also under the impression that the majority of parents in the province are thrilled about all day kindergarten, because it relieves the cost of daycare.

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