The time of year is creeping up where our kids will be heading back to school or going to school for the first time. It can be an interesting transition for both parents and the child, and the questions about if they are ready start to come up.
I “academic redshirted” my oldest child which is defined as, “the practice of postponing an age-eligible child’s kindergarten entry by a year, typically one whose birthday is very close to the cut-off date.” Fellow Babble writer Buzz shared that he will NOT be redshirting his January-born baby and says, “Life is not easy, why should we try to make school easier?”
I live in Canada and our school system is a bit different than what may be happening in the United States. Our kindergarten is not mandatory but is broken up into Junior Kindergarten (JK) and Senior Kindergarten (SK) and most schools (though it’s quickly changing) are on a 2-3 times a week schedule. When a child is turning 4 years old sometime during the school year, they are eligible to enter JK. My son was born in December and with this schedule he would have been eligible to enter school at only 3 years old (school year starts in September). He was not ready — physically or socially so we held him out of JK and had him enter SK the following school year. He was the youngest in his SK class being 4-years old and it really did make a huge difference, more than I thought it would.
He struggled to “keep up” with his older classmates and when we spoke with the teacher, he was perfectly in line with the JK students and behind his fellow SK’s with his skills. Socially, he preferred to hang out with the JK’s. That was when we made the decision to have him re-do senior kindergarten the following year in place of moving to grade 1. I wanted him to love school and thrive instead of feeling like he constantly has to catch up. It wasn’t about making school easier for him, it was about taking all things into consideration to set him up for a positive experience and not make things harder than it should be just because of the school age cut off.
We had to schedule a lot of meetings because according the the Ontario (where I live) guidelines, any child who is 6 or will be turning 6 in the school year must attend full time (every day) school. Happily, we were approved to have him re-do SK and while I struggled with the decision at first, it became SO clear when my February-born daughter started junior kindergarten that same year.
She is one of the oldest in her class — being 4 (turning 5) years old when she began school vs my son who was 3 turning 4 years old for the same program. It became very clear to me the advantage age has on all areas of school — academic, social and skills.
“Redshirting” him was the best decision I have made for him so far. He is now thriving both academically and socially (but not to the point where he is not being challenged enough) and he loves school! I know many other parents are either opposed or on the fence about this topic — either because they don’t understand the ‘why’s’ behind it or they feel we are trying to cheat the system and make things easier for our kids.
Tell us in the comments, would you ever consider redshirting your child? Do you think it gives our kids an advantage or makes their life ‘too easy’?