A Quick Guide on Redshirting for Kindergarten


For many families, this is a day that many kids and parents have been looking forward to for a long time. There might be a few tears on both sides, but in general, it’s a big step towards growing up for a child.

Some parents, however, hesitate at this idea. Nine percent of kindergarten-age children are “academically redshirted” each year, according to Very Well Family

This is the decision to hold a child back a year, even if they are the correct age for school. The cut off is different by state, and even by county. For example, the cut off in Jefferson County, Kentucky is now August 1. It was still October 1 when Lily went to kindergarten in 2014.


The School Debate

Cameron and Lily have January and February birthdays, so they are among the first to have birthdays in their classes. Cameron finds it hilarious that when he turns 15, he will be one of the first freshmen to do so. Lily will be 12 in the middle of her 6th-grade year. Julian, however, has a July birthday. He is usually one of, if not the youngest, in his class. He will graduate at 17, which he thinks is great. However, I almost redshirted him.

Julian has always been small for his age, even before the Vyvanse stunted his growth. That wasn’t a concern, because he can most certainly take care of himself. If not, Cameron is a good backup.

When Julian was about to start kindergarten, however, he had not yet been diagnosed and I wasn’t sure he was ready- socially. He is a very smart kid, but he was aggressive, hyper and destructive. I was afraid kindergarten would be a disaster. His second year of preschool was not going well- we got notes once a week about his behavior, and most of them were not great.

At home, he was so aggressive towards his siblings that they wouldn’t even play with him. This was a huge change from the boys getting into things together. Lily couldn’t talk well, but she knew to stay away.

I debated for months on whether to send him to kindergarten or not. I went ahead with it because I didn’t want whatever issues he had to further hold him back. I thought that he would get worse if I held him back. Plus, I didn’t think a third year of preschool would go well if that was even a possibility.

Julian was enrolled and I hoped for the best.

He hid under the cafeteria table at kindergarten orientation. I have never forgotten this. I was embarrassed, horrified and anxious at the same time. I had to peel his small hands off the table legs to get him to go with the teachers and other kids.

Kindergarten was as rough as I had anticipated, complete with meltdowns at school. He did get a full neuropsychological evaluation in November 2011 and thankfully was diagnosed with ADHD (combined) and autism (at the time, Asperger’s, now referred to as High Functioning Autism).

He was also medicated for ADHD. This helped a lot. His school helped by creating a 504 Plan, which assisted with behavioral issues. He later received an IEP in the 5th grade.

Am I glad that I sent Julian to school on time? Yes. Had we held him back, I think his issues may have gotten worse. He would have been bored, and that would have created a lot more problems for everyone.

Bus pic

Do You Need a Red Shirt?

Of course, this is an individual decision, and it’s not an easy one. Let’s look at the pros and cons of redshirting a child.


  • Less likely to need special education services
  • Less likely to be singled out for negative behavior because they had more time to work on social skills at home/preschool
  • Better motor skills
  • Increased social confidence
  • Reading and math are usually at or above where their peers are


  • In the adolescent years, difficulty making and maintaining friendships
  • losing a year of special education services (if needed) due to starting school late
  • May mask learning issues
  • Another year of preschool tuition

Questions to ask yourself while debating the issue:

  • What are the other factors, besides age, makes you feel that your child isn’t ready for kindergarten?
  • If your child has been to preschool, how is that going? Does the teacher feel that your child is ready? Are there concerns?
  • What does your district expect your child to know before going to kindergarten? You can look on their website for this information. Some, like JCPS (Jefferson County Public Schools), have kindergarten readiness programs during the summer to make sure kids are ready.
  • If your child does sit out a year, what will they do during that time to be ready for kindergarten next school year?
  • Does your child have any delays or other developmental issues? If so, can these be addressed once they are in school?

There is so much to consider before sending your child to school, and this may add to the anxiety. This topic is becoming more popular among parents of young children. Take time to think about it if you need to, consult with outside professionals if necessary. Most of all, do what is best for your child.

Did you redshirt your child? Did it go well, or did you regret the decision? Let me know in the comments!

Pics courtesy of unsplash

Information courtesy of Very Well Family

9 thoughts on “A Quick Guide on Redshirting for Kindergarten

  1. mommatrek says:

    We wanted to redshirt our kid in Kindergarten because we felt he wasn’t ready for first grade. We begged. We pleaded. We did everything but up and move to a new district. Unfortunately, we were told “Sorry. He academically passed so..SUCKS TO BE YOU, BITCH.” even though socially he wasn’t ready and he’s one of the youngest in the class thanks to his April birthday.

    At the end of first grade it was lather rinse repeat. “Sorry..he academically passed. SUCKS TO BE YOU, BITCH.” and we got moved to a different school because we got rezoned even though the elementary he attended for kindergarten and first is LITERALLY less than a 5 min drive (15 min walk) from our house. We got moved to a school across town that took at least 30-45 min to get to in the morning because of frigging traffic. When we asked to remain at the first school, we were told “Sorry. We just rezoned half your neighborhood and we’ve got 200 other parents doing the same thing.”

    J spent all of second grade being pissed off (and I was too, frankly) and finally, around the middle of the year in 3rd, he settled down.

    But not being able to redshirt him has come back to bite the school district in the ass. He wasn’t ready for 1st and spent a lot of time trying to grasp concepts, etc that the other kids were picking up easily. By the time he got to 4th, it was a serious problem (especially with his math) and the school more or less gave up and said “Fine. Give him whatever accomodations you want. We’re done with this shit.” and gave him what we’d been asking for all along in order to help him succeed since he wasn’t ready emotionally or socially to be in whatever grade he was currently in.

    He finally started doing better in middle school and has absolutely thrived this first year of high school, thank bob. But elementary was a shitty time in our lives, thanks to our school district being assholes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mommatrek says:

      Oh I was pissed as hell. At the ARD meeting for 2nd grade where we discussed having him tested through the school for ASD (they’d rejected our dr’s results), the principal leaned over and patted my hand and pooh pooh’d me. If my husband hadn’t grabbed my other hand under the table I would’ve launched myself across the table at the dude. And of course, they do their testing and OF COURSE he has Asperger’s and I was like, “WELL NO SHIT SHERLOCK. We fucking told you that and you didn’t listen.”
      Elementary was NOT a fun time for us…it wasn’t quite hell, but it wasn’t always fun either thanks to a handful of assholes. Including the OT who cornered me in the front office one day and practically DEMANDED I put my son (who also has ADHD inattentive type) back on meds (we tried that in kindergarten. It was a shit show of epic proportions an we were like “never again.” after that). I told him that unless he was willing to adopt my kid and parent him himself, then fuck no. No meds for my kid.
      We’ve learned different coping techniques and he’s had a lot of therapy throughout his life to help him deal with all the shit that comes with ADHD, ASD and all the comorbid crap (like balance issues, hypotonia, etc) that comes along for the ride. And once he got out of elementary, he started doing SO MUCH better, thank bob.
      Our district is fucked up in so many ways. SO fucked up. I keep reminding myself that in 3 more years, we are done with their bullshit and on to whatever comes post-high school because I’ve had enough.

      Liked by 1 person

    • wraemsanders says:

      They rejected the Dr results?!?! Is that even legal??? Chairs would have been flying. Omg this sounds like a complete shit show. Luckily we haven’t had anything close to this.


    • mommatrek says:

      I don’t know if it is or not…but we weren’t the first it happened to is all I know. I have a friend who has a teenage son who is also ASD who the school rejected the dr’s assessment as well.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mommatrek says:

      Apparently not. We had a 504 and an IEP already because he’d been in SpEd with the district since he was 3 1/2 after he aged out of the state services. He’d only been diagnosed with speech. motor skills and social delays as well as ADHD at that point, so he definitely qualified. The ASD diagnosis was just something else to add on top of his other stuff so we could get more support for him. Unfortunately, even though he was supposed to have an aid for 3-5th grades, he didn’t actually GET one (and even then it was only part time because by then, he didn’t need one full time) until middle school because the elementary only had 3 aides TOTAL for the entire school (outside of the self contained SpEd classroom).

      Liked by 1 person

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