Have you been toying with the idea of delaying kindergarten? Find out Why I chose to Delay Kindergarten & went with redshirting my child.
Why I chose to Delay Kindergarten & went with redshirting my child
I grew up in an era when you went to school when you had to. Holding your child back was unheard of. I also grew up in an era when Kindergarten was spent coloring, learning our letters, and had 2 recesses. Life was different. Times were simpler and expectations were different.
In a study published by researchers at the University of Virginia. They realized through research that since the late 1990s, teacher expectations for kindergartners have become measurably higher, with a heavier focus on reading and math; meanwhile, time spent on things like art, math, and simple playtime has decreased. They were surprised to see just how drastic the changes have been over a short period of time. This speaks to the pressures many children and in turn, parents are feeling when having their kids begin Kindergarten.
What is Redshirting Kindergarten?
Times have changed and so has school.
Next year 5.0 is supposed to be starting Kindergarten. His Birthday is at the end of June. If you would have told me a few years back I would be considering redshirting my kindergartner, I would have thought you were crazy. However, one day as I began researching information on getting him ready for Kindergarten I realized the time just wasn’t right.
I don’t know why I began to feel this way but I did know that he needed that extra year just to solidify and grow in confidence in order to tackle what was to come.
At first, I thought it was just me being a paranoid helicopter parent. But then I realized it wasn’t that, but it was the experience I had been through with his older brother that made me realize this decision was necessary.
Every state has a different Birthday Cut off
You see in Connecticut the cut-off was December 31. Here in Pennsylvania, it’s August 31. 4.0’s birthday is Mid October. So when I placed him in Kindergarten before his 5th birthday I realized early on what a disaster that was.
He ended up doing Kindergarten again the next year. Thankfully now, he is on course thriving and doing his best this year as a First grader. All because he did Kindergarten twice.
I know his situation was different but it made me realize how challenging Kindergarten has become. Even more than when my 13-year-old was in Kindergarten. Children are expected to know quite a bit going into Kindergarten. They are to have a solid understanding of letters and their sounds, numbers 1-20, rhyme, write their name, know their address and phone number, and cut to name a few things.
Not only do they need to know those basic Academic skills they also need to have some social skills that are necessary for their success. Many are age-appropriate but others come a little harder to some children. Especially those that may not have gone through Early Childhood programs since they were little.
Why we chose to delay kindergarten (redshirt my child)
5.0 is a very bright little boy, however, I was looking at the bigger picture. How emotionally ready is he to head to school? How will he react to the confines of a classroom that is expecting so much from him? Will he be able to handle the emotional separation from what he knows? Being the child of immigrants who did what you were supposed to, I would have said, tough it up buttercup, and sent him to school. But is that really the best for him?
Part of me also felt a bit embarrassed because I don’t want others to feel like my little boy isn’t bright because they aren’t the smartest kids the ones who know everything early on?
Taking all that he knows, his emotional well, and the overall picture made me realize we would be sitting out one year. That coupled with some great studies on the benefits of delaying Kindergarten 1 year made this decision an easier one for our family.
Deciding to Hold him back was one decision I was finally comfortable with
As a parent, I question every decision I make, whether to make my son stick to Boy Scouts. If I should let my daughter take ballet instead of soccer. Less screen time, more veggies, etc..
It feels like no matter what decision I make with my kids I have second-guessed it all. Except for this one.
For the first time in my parenting years, I felt like this was one decision I was incredibly secure in. My husband was a little more doubtful because he’s a product of the ’70s/80s and holding back a kid just because you think it’s the right thing to do isn’t an option. I don’t even know if he’s 100% on board but is supporting my decision because of my Educational background.
One important factor that led to my decision is my commitment to keeping things up on my end with enrichment activities that will help maximize this upcoming year so that when he does begin school, he’ll be ready.
I’m not talking about having him learn the Canterbury tales, I’m talking about good old play learning that will help maximize the fun. From hands-on experiments, Visit fun and educational places like Legoland, Sensory play, and most important free play.
I plan to make sure this is a year of growth and readiness but most importantly fun.
We want kids to grow up so quickly.
Honestly, even though all the studies, suggestions from respected educators I know, and my own gut feeling, one final reason is that I want to give him one more year of being my little boy.
I remember being a first-time mom I was so ready for my oldest son to hit the Kindergarten milestone. Whether he was ready or not. It was a necessary part of life. But looking back now I ask myself why was I in such a hurry.
These kids will be in school for 13 years. It’s inevitable. I see how they come home exhausted, overworked, and drained. School is so much all the time. From standardized tests to Common core Math even I can’t figure it out at times. Although my kid’s school does an amazing job at making it fun, it’s still a lot of work. A lot of stress. Most important a lot of pressure that won’t end until they’re in college and honestly does it ever?
Reasons not to delay Kindergarten
Delaying Kindergarten is definitely not the right decision for every family. There are actually children who may not benefit from this and may even do worse by redshirting. There are kids who even though tend to be inattentive, are extremely bright. Holding them back might make them bored creating behavior issues. Also if your child has a group of friends that they are close to and they’re all moving on to Kindergarten, leaving them behind may definitely be more devastating than not.
For some parents, financially it may not be an option. Because we’re holding off one year, we’re putting 5.0 in a fantastic preschool program. That being said, it’s going to cost us over a hundred a month to send him there. We have the economic means to do it, but not everyone does and so that isn’t an option. When we lived in Connecticut most preschools there were close to 500 a month. Making it impossible for many not to do this.
I know there are a lot opponents stating that this is an ” upper middle class problem” and that lower-income kids just don’t have the ability to pay for an extra year of preschool because of working parents. The fact that Kindergarten is free is also a huge factor.
That being said here in Pennsylvania Kindergarten is still a half-day program which means you’re going to run into issues regardless. Many parents still end up having to pay for private Kindergarten or childcare so that wasn’t an issue for us.
Alternative options to Redshirting in Some states
There are states that have amazing benefits for preschoolers. In Florida, they have the VPK program. A program one of my daughters took advantage of and was super beneficial to her. They were actually one of the first programs to offer this benefit to 4-year-olds. This free prekindergarten to all 4-year-olds is for kids who live in Florida. They have to be 4 years old on or before Sept. 1 of the current school year to be eligible. If their fourth birthday falls Feb. 2 through Sept. 1 in a calendar year, parents can postpone enrolling their child in VPK that year and wait until the following year when their child is 5.
So although they aren’t technically redshirting they are helping parents make this decision themselves. They are also giving them options which are fantastic.
It’s definitely a personal decision that no one can do for you. I also believe that no matter what you decide it will be the right choice when it comes to delaying Kindergarten one year. In the end, I feel like I’m giving him one more year to have fun, one more year to be little, and one more year to have him as my own. I’m well aware that the day he begins his journey into Kindergarten that little boy won’t be anymore. He’ll be dealing with pressures he’s never had before. Feel all sorts of feelings that I won’t be there to help guide him along the way. So for now I’m doing my part to capture him in childhood just a little longer.
Want to find out what we thought of our decision? I was interviewed by NPR. You can check out the interview here!
What we learned from redshirting my child
My little guy will be finishing his Kindergarten year in a few weeks. I am so happy we made this decision. Even my husband who was skeptical has said this was the best decision we could have made for our guy. Because his birthday is in the summer the age difference hasn’t really been a thing. He won’t be turning 7 until after school ends. My October baby who was in grade had more struggles with everything in Kindergarten my #5 has done really well. He’s got his sounds and letters down, numbers, and adding on grade level. He isn’t reading fluently but I know it will click any minute.
He’s adjusted amazingly and has a great group of friends in our neighborhood that are in his class (we even had a carpool this year going because his school is half-day Kindergarten) I was also able to include him in my preschool Spanish class because it’s in the afternoon. So in all having kept him back one more year was an AMAZING decision for our family. Like I said before this decision is a personal one and everyone has to see what’s best for their family. The stars may not align for your family and you may have to put them at grade level. Just know that if you are toying with this idea and the stars are aligned you won’t regret your decision. They’re only little once!
How has 1st grade been since redshirting my son (update February 2023)
I wrote this article a few years back and I wanted to update you on what it’s been like for my son since he was redshirted for kindergarten. He is halfway through 1st grade and has grown leaps and bounds in all subjects. I am constantly amazed at how well he’s doing and grasping all his subjects. He’s really flourished with reading and is doing really well with Math. He hasn’t missed a beat with his friends and does so well in school behavior-wise. He follows the rules that are expected of him and continues to amaze us daily. I can’t stress enough how glad we are that we made this decision for him. Like I said before this decision isn’t for everyone and in the end you know your child best. That being said if you are on the fence and feeling strongly about doing this, this option is a fantastic one.