Thoughts on Redshirting - Kindergarten

So this has been asked before, that is, the pros and cons of Red Shirting a child so that they start Kindergarten a year later then they otherwise could start.

Seeing how kids are starting school again I thought I would ask again for Dopers opinions and experiences with Red Shirting.

By way of background, my son is 4 (born late April, 2011). He is fairly speech delayed and has been in speech therapy now for two years. So he is going into five day pre-K in two weeks. My thoughts are that we hold him back another year as I think it would be good for him. So he would be 6 going into Kindergarten.

I’m by no means a child expert, but I’d say give it some serious consideration. I didn’t have that decision to make with either of my boys as both were born in months just slightly past the cutoff, so each was close to six when he started school. Both were so much more emotionally mature and better able to handle the experience. I think your little one would likely benefit quite a bit from the extra time working on his speech development.

But hopefully someone more qualified to answer your question will also weigh in.

Good luck with your decision, whichever way you decide to go.

Thank you for your response! I’m just canvassing thoughts and experiences, not looking for a definitive answer. Obviously we will speak to his teachers. He’s a tall kid, which helps and he is very active which is also good but I don’t see the downside of keeping him back a year. So the more I know the better informed my decision will be!

My birthday is 12/31/54. When I started school a child could enroll in kindergarten if they would be five before New Year’s Day. So my parents could have started me in school in the fall of1958. I would have forever been the youngest in my class.

They decided it would be better for me, that I would be more developed, if I started school in the next year. So I always was the oldest. I did very well in school, and I think this is because I was “redshirted”.

The dates have changed now, to Sept. 1 I believe, so if I was born now my parent’s would not have had the option.

I had a first cousin who’s birthday is Sept 5. He started school locally, finishing kindergarten and then starting first grade. Then the family moved to Texas, which had a sept 1 cutoff. He was only over by less than a week, but Texas made him go back to kindergarten. He was horribly embarrassed. as he had been doing fine in first grade. Another reason I find Texas to be a foolish state.

Have you read Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers? He suggests that children who are the oldest in their classes end up being more successful – especially when it comes to sports.

OK, I’m in Ireland so there are differences - kids start at 4 or 5 (rather than 5 or 6 as in the US, right?) but do two years of kindergarten equivalent. Also the cohort seems to go from about April to April (as in, kids starting last September were anywhere from around 4-and-5-months to 5-and-5-months) which seems to be different where you are. But my older kid just finished her first year of school, and this is what I noticed:

The very youngest kids in the class had some trouble making friends, because they’re just not as socially developed as the rest. They can’t connect to the kinds of games the older ones want to play. They’re not left out, but mainly they’re being hauled around as props (‘You’ve been captured! Go there till we rescue you!’) rather than really participating. I don’t think they fell behind academically, but socially there was a noticeable gap. That will probably even out over the next year or two, though.

The oldest ones’ experience seemed to vary hugely depending on the kid’s personality. The confident ones became leaders and had a great time. The less confident ones seemed to feel uncomfortable being bigger and older than the majority - one of them started putting on a baby voice and pretending to be younger.

Our first kid is a summer baby, so she was one of the older flight but not the oldest. That was perfect.

There are long-term consequences for either choice, too, remember. A woman I know has teenagers. One of them was sent to school as part of the youngest flight, but they held her back a year when she was eleven because she was the type of kid who they really didn’t want spending her teens surrounded by older kids - she would have followed them into doing stuff she wasn’t ready for. She hated being held back at the time, but now she’s very happy as one of the oldest in her class. Another of their kids has been the oldest in his class all along. He was bored and restless in his last year of primary school, because he was more than ready to move out of that setting, but he settled straight away in secondary, more easily than his younger classmates.

If I had a kid with a speech delay who could go either early or late, I’d lean heavily towards sending him late. Social interaction is such a huge part of what they learn at school in those early years - if an extra year will make that work better for him, I’d go for it.

(Never heard ‘redshirting’ before and it sounds fairly scary. Aren’t the redshirts the people who always get killed?!)

I was younger than everyone. If I had it to do again I would have waited a year, but my parent s didn’t think that way. I think an extra year would be advantageous.

When my son was that age, he’d just turned 5 in late July and I felt that he wasn’t ready. So we waited for a year and he started Kindergarten having just turned 6.

Well he just turn 18 a few weeks ago and is a senior in high school. There have been pros and cons to the whole thing. He is significantly older than most of his friends, which some times makes him feel awkward. People assume that he must have flunked a year of school. And he has always been tall for his age, and when he was a head or more taller than other 7th graders, he felt weird.

But on the other hand being more mature has helped him avoid a lot of peer pressure situations. He really wasn’t ready at age 5 to start Kindergarten, so waiting a year helped him be better academically and it’s kept him at home an extra year now that he’s 18.

School in my area starts around mid-August. My daughter’s birthday is early October, and my son’s is late August. She is among the oldest of her class, and he is one of the four or five oldest kids in his class (I am surprised he is not the oldest).

We started them when it seemed most appropriate, so I would not call it red-shirting, or “holding them back”. In fact, I take umbrage when someone suggests we “held them back”. No, we started them when it was most appropriate, for them, when they appeared to be mature enough to sit still and listen to another adult, and get along with other kids without creating a scene. Each kid and family is a different situation, and what worked for my kid may not work for your own.

Anyway, they have both done very well in school. Sure, they are doing good in sports, too, but I care more about their grades and their ability to learn and grow.

My nephew was started in Kindergarten at 5 (I think) and after two weeks his mom sent him back to pre-school for another year. He started Kindergarten as one of the older ones in the class, and he did very, very well in school. He’s now going to Harvard (no kidding).

To be honest, if you have the choice, I would allow kids to be on the older side when entering school. I have heard no bad stories about older kids struggling, but have known a few where the kid is one of the youngest in the class and has had issues. Not sure there is a relationship there, but there it is. Again, this only applies if you have the option - not everyone does.


It’s a sports term here in the US, which refers to holding an athlete out of competition their first year of college for various reasons:

Phew!! :smiley:

Our cutoff is September first. My son’s birthday is August 28th, so we held him - on the theory that he was a little short for his age (still is), of pretty average intelligence (still is) and that a year wouldn’t hurt. I’d do it again (although he’s going into his Junior year and sometimes I think that he’d be graduating this year and I’d be done with him in high school!). He is one of the oldest kids in his class - redshirting being uncommon here.

My daughter’s birthday is September 20th, so she is one of the oldest in her class as well.

I have a friend who has a master’s in remedial English - so she’s dealt with kids trying to catch up her whole career. She says she’s never seen anyone regret “redshirting” - she’s seen a lot of kids who would have benefited from not being the youngest.

But me, I’d be cautious - even with the three days the fact that he is supposed to be a grade above carries a little stigma among the kids - like he wasn’t bright enough to start, or was held back. I wouldn’t do it if it were months.

If it seems right for the kid do it!

Pope Kid the 1st is very bright. When we first took him to the local school they ran him through their tests and pushed us to put him into straight into Kindergarten rather than pre-school*. He lasted two weeks before it was clear that while he could handle the concepts OK he just wasn’t ready for that level of schooling (emotionally or physically) and we dropped him back to pre-school for a year and everything was great. (He’s now in Yr 1 and it’s a perfect fit - right choice)

Pope Kid the 2nd. By age (5 in early march this year) he could have gone into kindergarten - the school years starts in February here - but based on experience with his brother we decided to hold him back a year and get him into pre-school instead and it was the right decision as well.

He is now ready and really keen to go to his brothers school next year and will do great. Had he gone into kindergarten this year it would have been a miserable experience for everyone.

Both are on the ASD spectrum FWIW.

*The school was far more interested in how his academic scores would look good for them rather than in how he would benefit from an earlier start. We dumped them and moved PK 1st to a different school which has been fantastic, PK 2nd will be going there as well.

I wouldn’t hesitate to hold back a kid whose birthday fell near the cutoff date–like even by a few months. Being six when starting kindergarten doesn’t seem like a problem at all, especially–and I am basing this off a general impression that boys tend to develop socially more slowly than girls–for a boy.

I was one of the youngest in my class, and felt socially awkward quite a bit. It’s possible another year would have helped me.

My niece started full-day kindergarten this week, and she’ll turn 6 in three weeks. I think her parents had the option of going either way.

There’s no question that my niece wasn’t ready emotionally last year. She just stopped wearing Pull-Ups for pooping this summer. Once she finally did start pooping on the toilet she immediately became more confident. I don’t know if they could have gotten her ready a whole year ago (her mother has some problems of her own so my niece’s home life is kind of wonky).

My niece will probably be one of the bigger kids in her class, if not the biggest, but IMHO she would have been big if she started at 5 too. She’s just a very big girl and so was I.

Uhm…sorry that doesn’t really fit with your situation, but it’s just another example of a kid being 6 in kindergarten.

My twins were born in September. If we’d pushed the school, we probably could have gotten them into Kindergarten at 4 years 11 months, but we chose to keep them in Pre-K for the extra year. It worked out well.

I was nearly six (November born) when I started kindergarten, and I grew to resent it as I got older. My mother opted to send me to Head Start instead, merely because a family friend was the local director.

Since you’re on the fence anyway, just let the kid make the call when the time comes.

Does your child get services through the school system for the speech delay? Because if so, you’ll want to look very carefully into what will happen to those should you choose to hold him back.

Our district, for example, has various levels of special preschool and pre-K language classes for kids with IEPs and once you are kindergarten age, you are no longer eligible for those placements. If you want to redshirt, your options are to either be exited from special ed for that year and have to requalify, or pay for a year of private school and switch to an itinerant “service plan” from the county which will typically be much less support than you were getting in the special ed classroom programs.

I don’t know if it’s this way in all districts, but something to consider, anyway.

I think you should go by whether you think your child is ready. Sure, he can go this year, but that doesn’t mean he has to.

My birthday is in November, and the cut-off back then was December 1. I would have benefitted from being home another year (no nursery schools back then, either). It wasn’t an intelligence problem, it’s that I was extremely shy and quiet, and just not ready. However, I had a brother about 13 months older than I, with two younger ones at home, so there was no way my mother was going to keep me home.

So I think that if you feel your child can benefit from another year in Pre-K, keep him out of kindergarten. It’s really difficult to go and not feel prepared or comfortable.