I first heard the phase “redshirting your kindergartner” a few years ago while I was watching an episode of 60 Minutes. The story went into great detail on why parents did or did not choose to send their five-year-olds to kindergarten. Some parents who made the choice to hold their children back did it because they just felt like their child was not ready; others thought it might give their child an advantage in sports down the road. Parents who sent their young kindergartner often did so because they thought holding them back might actually do more harm than good, and some parents felt like, financially, they did not have a choice but to send them to school. I was intrigued by the story, as our oldest son has an August 1st birthday (Iowa’s kindergarten cutoff is September 15), and I knew this would be an issue we would be facing in the next several years.
Why I Have Thought about Holding Him Back
I have talked to many teachers and have always gotten the same advice: “You will never regret holding him back, but you might very well regret sending him.” These words have stuck with me while we have made the tough decision on how to proceed with his education next fall. Do I think that we could send our son to kindergarten and he would do fine – maybe even excel? Yes, I do. But I also know that he will benefit from an extra year to grow socially and emotionally. And, selfishly, I’m happy to keep him to myself for one more year before sending him out into the real world of school.
Why I Have Thought of Sending Him
My son currently attends preschool at our local school district. He goes four afternoons a week, and we have seen unbelievable changes in his academic skills, confidence, and behavior since he started preschool in the fall. Unfortunately, our district does not offer a transitional kindergarten; so if we do not send him, we have to find a private preschool program – and I worry about him being challenged enough and his behavior if he is not.
What We Decided
We decided that we would “redshirt our kindergartner.” Even though we feel like he would probably do great next year in kindergarten, we decided to wait one more year. We found a preschool program at a local church that is specially for older four- and five-year-olds and builds on the curriculum he used this year. After many, many months of debating on what road we should take, we finally feel at peace and know that we made the right decision for our son and our family.