What You Need To Know Before You Redshirt A Kindergarten Year

Redshirting kindergarten has become more commonplace in recent years. Aping Vision/STS via Getty Images

 Kindergarten has recieved a lot of attention in the last few years.  Kindergarten curriculum has picked up the academic pace when states adopted more rigororous expectations with Common Core State Standards movement.  That alone made kindergarten more like first grade.  

In addition to that, several states and local school districts have placed more focus on kindergarten.  Kindergarten readiness assessments, required screenings before attending school, state and distrcit wide full day kidnergartens, and a push to make children more "kindergarten ready" by improving and expanding early child care programs.


If you live in a state that has strict guidelines that each child born between certain dates of the year fiver years prior must attend kindergarten, you don't get much choice in whether or not your child will attend kidnergarten.  The thing is, many states make kindergarten available to children born five years prior between certain dates, but do not require children to attend school until age six or seven.

If you have been hearing about how kindergarten is the new first grade, you might be wondering if you would be better off to wait until your child is a little older before beginning school.  You want your child to get a great start to their public school education.  You want to be certain  they are ready to handle the demands of the classroom.  You want them to feel success, not a difficult struggle that might dampen a young childs natural desire to learn.   This is why parents consider "redshirting", the term used for delayed entry to kindergarten and the child's academic career.

Is Redshirting or Delaying Entry to Kindergarten Always a Good Idea?

Malcolm Gladwells popular 2008 book "Outliers: The Story of Success" covers how professional Canadian Hockey players almost all have birthdays within the first three months of the year.  He explains that when kids begin playing hockey the birth date cutoff is January 1, leading children who are born in January to compete against children who are born in December.

 Gladwell goes on to reason that this gave the older players, born in the first months of the year a competitive advantage in hockey that continues throughout school years and into the professional league.  Gladwell then goes on to speculate that this would extend to all of academic success, and suggest that schools begin a rolling admissions policy.  

What many parents took away from this is that waiting a year to give their younger child a little more time might give their child an edge or boost in school.  

The reality is that there are a lot more factors than just your child's birthday to determine kindergarten readiness.  Two five-year-olds with the same birthday may naturally have different aptitudes for learning.  One five year old may have attended a top quality preschool program that carefully prepared children for kindergarten, while the other child may not have had that chance.  Some children do stay home with their parents or other caregivers who work hard to provide play with other children, educational outings, playtime, reading time, and even teach letters, sounds and counting.

Some children come from disadvantaged families that cannot provide as many opportunities for their children the way middle or upper class families can.

 Additionally, some children experience developmental delays or even having learning disabilities that slow down their learning before they attend school.

Yet, when that kindergarten year starts, the classroom will be full of a wide range of kids who have a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and are at different points in their development.  Kindergarten teachers find ways to provide the best kindergarten experience to this widely varied group each year.  

You need to ask yourself if your child is ready to benefit from being with this varied group of (mostly) five-year-olds or if waiting a year would really help.

Wait too long and your child may be bored with kidnergarten and resent being around other children who are learning the very beginning skills needed for school

Rather than assuming it is always best to wait until close to six years of age to start kidnergarten, do a little more checking around before making a decision.  

  • See if you can visit the kindergarten classroom where your child would attend, and think about whether or not your child would be ready for the expeprience that you see.  
  • If there are kindergarten screenings offered through your child's preschool or by the school district before school begins, have your child assessed.  Take time to talk with your child's preschool teachers and ask what readiness skills your child has, and what they might need to work on.
  • Read this article on social  and developmental kidnergarten readiness

Take all of this informaiton together to make the best decision you can for your child.  You are their parent, and you know them better than anyone else.  In the end it is your decision whether or not to wait a year for kindergarten, not the latest media trend.

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