Parenting: 'Redshirting" in kindergarten?
January 26, 2012 (WPVI) -- It's a growing trend among parents of young children: delaying a child's entry into kindergarten due to age, size, maturity, or ability. It's called "redshirting."
Four-year-old Aidan Curley loves to play. He exhibits creativity. And he is learning how to read.
Aidan turns five on October 13th. The cutoff for kindergarten at his school in Berks County is October 15th.
Given that Aidan would likely be the youngest in his class, his parents have decided to wait another year.
"I want him to be a little more mature," Aidan's father, Tom Curley, told Action News. "Emotionally mature going in there. And physically."
The practice has become common enough to get the name "redshirting."
We visited a kindergarten class in Upper Darby, Pa., where the cutoff is September 1st.
The school's principal, Patrice Scanlon, says parents are delaying sending their child to school for the wrong reasons. She understands if the cutoff is near the child's birthday, but generally opposes the practice.
"I think you are holding your child back from another year of being able to interact with peers of their own age," said Scanlon. "Your child is going to be who your child is going to be, and it doesn't matter if you are the oldest or the youngest."
Scanlon also says holding children back may delay a diagnosis of a learning disability if the child has one. Her bottom line: if you are on the fence, send your child to school. She believes they will always be better off in kindergarten, even if they don't seem ready.
Statistics show 9% of kindergarten-age children are redshirted every year. The practice is more common among boys, and in affluent communities, where parents can afford more pre-school or daycare.
As for its effects, research is mixed. Aidan's parents consulted with their school before making their decision.
"As he gets older I think he'll appreciate this now," said Tom Curley.
Scanlon suggests reading the book The Yardsticks by Chip Wood. It provides benchmarks for the development of children between four and 14. Here is a link to the book on Amazon.com.
Of course, no one knows your children better than you. Consulting with school is a great start if you are having trouble making this decision.
If you have a child like Aidan who is in a similar situation as kindergarten approaches, I invite you to share your thoughts and concerns on my Facebook page.
matt o'donnell parenting reports, parenting, matt o'donnell
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