Academic redshirting is the practice of delaying a student’s entrance into kindergarten to allow another year for emotional, intellectual, and physical development, thereby improving the student’s likelihood of success. It also allows an additional year to develop the necessary motor skills to thrive in a kindergarten setting. This can greatly benefit some children, but does little to help others. A few things to consider:
• The fact that your child may be among the youngest in her class is not necessary a negative. Children develop at different rates and many younger children are among the most successful. Be clear about why you are considering redshirting your child; age in itself is generally not a sufficient reason.
• Be assertive in discovering what the school system expects for incoming kindergartners. Is there a preparedness test? Take a look at it and get a feel for how your child would do.
• Speak with your child’s preschool teacher and pediatrician. Both will have informed opinions about your child’s preparedness. The preschool teacher sees your child everyday in an academic setting with your child’s peers. The pediatrician sees similar aged children on a daily basis and is an expert in child development.
• Speak to the kindergarten teachers in your school system regarding their expectations. How does your child currently compare to those expectations? You might even consider taking your child at a later date for an informal meeting. The teacher should be able to provide some advice regarding potential redshirting or provide ideas about how to best prepare your child for kindergarten.
• Consider your child’s ability to be independent. Can he manage all bathroom activities without assistance? Wash his own hands? Drink from an adult style cup?
• Is your child able to follow simple directions without excessive prompting. For example, “Take off your boots and put on your shoes.”
• Are her motor skills sufficient to hold a pencil and use scissors? Many kindergarten activities are dependent on these skills.
• Is your child able to interact in a positive way with other children? Does he understand the ideas of sharing and taking turns? A child must be able to successfully function as part of a group of similar aged children.
Consider all the above when making your decision, but do not fail to get expert advice as well. Your school system, preschool and kindergarten teachers, and pediatrician are all there to serve as a resource. Failing to access all the available information creates the potential to make a serious mistake regarding your child’s’ education, future, and happiness.
If your child has difficulty with any of the basic daily tasks we have mentioned and doesn’t show signs of improvement towards these goals; you should seriously consider ‘Redshirting’ your child. No child should be placed in a situation where she does not have the maturity or skills to be competent. Many parents are concerned with the idea that their child may be among the youngest in the class. However, many younger children thrive in school, so parents should have specific concerns in mind. These specific concerns can then be addressed with the aforementioned experts. The decision to keep your child out of kindergarten for an additional year may be difficult, but there are many resources to help you with that decision.