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.
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