Academically redshirting your child is a topic often discussed by parents as their children get ready to enter kindergarten. In short, redshirting your child for kindergarten means to hold them back from attending kindergarten even though they would otherwise be eligible to attend according to the state cutoff age. Although academic research has found no significant long-term difference in redshirting your child, many parents decide to do so in order to allow their child to grow and mature for an additional year. Some parents, however, decide that redshirting isn’t the best option. Even though their child is “young”, in that they have a later summer or early fall birthday, these parents decide their child is ready to head off to big kid school. Reasons vary, from their child being academically ready to wanting their child to finish their school career earlier. One mom decided to do just that – send her child to kindergarten early – despite others telling her it wasn’t the best decision. And she’s happy that she did.
There are many areas of parenthood that are difficult for me. Patience. Leaving a messy playroom. Waking up several times a night. But there is one area I never thought I’d have an issue with, and that is school readiness.
Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I was a teacher. A preschool and kindergarten teacher to be exact. So I thought I would have this whole kindergarten readiness thing in the bag when the time came. My oldest child was born October 15th, and I knew that in most states that would mean she would *just miss* the cutoff for kindergarten. I had assumed throughout the first four years of her life that this would mean she would be an older five year old when she entered kindergarten. But as we approached her second year of preschool I began to second guess that decision.
I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past six years, but for three of those years I ran a preschool from home for my daughter and a small group of children her age. My curriculum grew with her starting at two years old until she was five. When she turned four I decided to send her to an “outside” preschool for a few days a week so that she could socialize in a larger setting and get used to other teachers. It was then that I realized I should start consider sending her to kindergarten the following year instead of holding her back.
My daughter loved preschool. She loved her teachers and her friends; she loved playing and painting. But she was only fifteen days past the cutoff for kindergarten, and my husband encouraged us to start exploring the option of sending her to big kid school early rather than make her wait one more year. We felt as though another year of preschool would hinder her learning. We knew she was academically and socially ready for school, and we wanted to see what was available to us in terms of sending her to kindergarten the following year.
As a previous preschool and kindergarten teacher I felt as though we should hold her back another year. I always could tell which kids had come to kindergarten before they were ready, and it made it difficult to differentiate instruction. But as a parent, I felt torn. I knew she was ready for kindergarten and I knew she would thrive. I did my research and I talked with her teachers, other teacher friends, and relatives. Although academic research supported my thoughts that redshirting wouldn’t play a significant role over time, I still wanted to do what was best for her.
Everyone who knows my daughter personally said that she was absolutely academically ready. My concern was that she wouldn’t be emotionally or socially ready, but her preschool teacher assured me that that wasn’t an issue. However, I did hear some negative input about sending her early, such as:
- “She will be a young middle schooler and high schooler.”
- “She will graduate high school and attend college at 17, which is very young.”
- “Parents say they never regret holding their child back, but always regret sending them early.”
My husband and I took all these points into consideration, but in the end we decided to send my daughter to a private school for kindergarten rather than waiting another year for her to attend public school. And we are so happy that we did. A few of the reasons we decided to send her to kindergarten were:
- She was academically and socially ready to attend.
- We found a kindergarten that was a small class size (13 students).
- We felt as though she would be bored in preschool for another year.
- She was already hitting kindergarten readiness milestones.
Academically, my daughter is thriving. She is reading, writing, and completing projects on her own that I would have not expected from a five year old. I still feel as though another year of preschool would have hindered her abilities, and I am more than happy with our decision. However, as a teacher I do recognize that some children who are young five year olds are not always ready to enter kindergarten as I have seen in my own personal life. In the end, each parent has to make the decision that is right for their child, and I believe that we did just that for our daughter.
Photo Credits: MJGDS Library, Lauren Lomsdale