May 14, 2009 posted by Lindsay

Whatever Happened to Kindergarten?

Whatever Happened to Kindergarten?

Redshirting kindergartners is ‘competiparenting’ at its finest. And it’s only getting worse.

(NOTE: The names of the mothers and daughters in this story have been changed to protect potential PTO appointments and prevent room mother throw-downs.)

Five-year-old Olivia Morrison is coloring and singing and skipping her way through the final days of kindergarten at her Williamson County public school. After a few months of summer vacation, her schoolmates will meet again in the first grade classrooms. Olivia won’t be among them.

Instead, she’ll be starting kindergarten all over again, this time at one of Nashville’s private Catholic schools.

“She was on the weaker side as far as academics go,” her mother, Sue, explains. “Her new school tends to be a little stressful, and I didn’t want her to not be as good as everyone else.”

Olivia is hardly alone.

Every year, hundreds of Nashville-area private school parents “redshirt” their kindergarten-aged children, holding them out for a year or two until they’re bigger or more mature. Many of these redshirted kids go to public school kindergarten in the meantime. Their parents hope it will give them an edge in private school admissions testing and, later, in the classroom.

The double kindergarten practice is frustrating to moms like Maria Anderson, whose own five-year-old daughter will attend Olivia’s new school this fall with only a year of preschool under her 5T belt. Maria’s afraid her child will lag behind the kindergarten vets.

“Obviously, I’m concerned about academics,” Maria told me. “Those kids have a leg up. But also, [with] socialization. They’ve eaten in a cafeteria, they know how to walk into school, hang up their backpacks, sit on the carpet. She’s going to go into a class with 25 kids and I’m willing to bet that 10 to 15 of them have already had a year of kindergarten somewhere else.”

It’s ‘competiparenting’ at its finest. And it’s only getting worse.

“That kind of waiting-out, particularly for boys, has been common at Ensworth, USN and Harding for years,” a local mom and former private school administrator told me recently. “Many of the elite private elementary schools ‘officially’ accept kindergartners who are 5, but in reality, tend toward kids (particularly boys) who are 6 or even 7. My son started kindergarten at 5 years old. There were two 7-year-old boys in the same class. My daughter also started at 5, with three 7-year-olds.”

Some education experts say such a wide range of ages can take a toll on a classroom.

“If you gear the class toward the older children, the younger guys get left behind,” says Catherine McTamaney, a professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt. “If you gear it toward the younger children, you spend a lot of your time dealing with behavioral issues with the older guys. We’ve created a monster in these structures, and these kinds of parent games just feed it.”

It’s bad enough in kindergarten, but many moms have told me that once puberty sets in, the age separation gap in private schools gets even more noticeable.

“When your daughter is in eighth grade, do you really want her with a boy who could be a sophomore in high school?” Maria asked. “Some of these boys in eighth grade look like men to me! Some of them can’t even fit in the elementary school desks for crying out loud.”

I shook my head in sympathy for Maria when she told me this, thanking my lucky stars that as a public school parent, I didn’t have to worry about these kinds of issues. Instead, I can focus my concerns on more pressing matters, like who hid that loaded gun in his locker at my stepdaughters’ high school, or how a drug dealer approached my 18-year-old in the school library, or whether that flasher is still hanging out at the bus stop on the other side of the fence.

Still, it burns me to think that a percentage of kids at my 5-year-old daughter’s public school kindergarten this fall will be there as nothing more than pawns in a parent game to make them seem smarter when they enter private school.

I think the notion that two years of kindergarten could significantly increase a child’s intelligence is ridiculous. Dr. McTamaney seems to agree.

“You can’t push kids’ development to build a higher-achieving kid any more than you can shake a cocoon to build a more beautiful butterfly,” she says.

At the same time, I have to admit that if I were a private school parent, I would feel a major temptation to keep up with the Frists. If everyone else is doing two years of kindergarten, why would I send my daughter into that environment without the same kind of preparation?

“She’s going into the lion’s den,” Sue told me. After we talked for a few minutes, she admitted she’d never have sent Olivia to public kindergarten this year if the other parents weren’t doing it.

“I wish they’d never started this,” she said. “Kindergarten should be kindergarten. It aggravates me that they expect so much out of them at such a young age.”

But who are “they,” exactly? The private schools? Or the parents?

Or both?


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This post  originally appeared in the Nashville Scene.




  • >I think it’s terribly sad that we want our kids to “win” before even having a chance to learn. I wrote about the parents who did their kids’ first day of preschool (3 year olds!) art projects for them – and weren’t fooling anyone. Least of all the teachers.

  • >I have never even hear of this. So what r the red shirts all about? The 5 yr olds wear the red shirts to tell them apart? This whole thing sounds way backwards to me? Are you saying that they hold the kids back to start kindergarten so that they have an advantage over the younger ones? Later in life(which lasts WAY longer than a few years of school), they are behind everyone else and lagging along in life:). I would consider these kids ‘behind’, not ahead. This whole thing makes NO sense to me. And who is even allowing this?. And then we wonder who is perpetuating the whole greed, and power thing. Sounds to me like these parents are acting out of fear and have no confidence in their own kids’ abilities. What a shame.

  • >My oldest is now in middle school and has a summer birthday. He’s been the youngest in his class by one to two years since Kindergarten. (in public schools) Luckily, he’s a big kid, so he fits in, size wise. The problem is that he’s competing for the Gifted program and sports teams against kids that are 18-24 months older than he is. Kids are tested at a grade level, not an age. He works his butt off to keep up, but it’s not fair. Meanwhile, I have to deal with ridiculous moms telling me, “My son’s not gifted. He’s HIGHLY gifted.” No shit, lady. He’s got a moustache and he’s in 5th grade.

  • >I have NO problem with holding your late summer born child back and extra year (especially boys!), but I don’t want a 7 year old in my 5 year olds class. No way.

  • >God bless public school.

  • >When my daughter was 10, she played on a Little League softball team for the first time. She was interested in pitching, so I figured, just tell the coach, he’ll let you try it… wrong! There were three girls on her team who had already been practicing YEAR ROUND with PRIVATE pitching coaches for two years… so my daughter, at 10yo was already too old to even stand a chance… what the heck!?! Yes, competetive parenting is out of control-and red- shirting is unfortunately but one example of it!

  • >Umm, careful with that whole God and public school thing in the same sentence. We dont allow any of that in Metro.

  • >We definitely see a lot of redshirting in our area. Sadly, they also use public kindergarten as an opportunity for free “daycare” until they feel their kid is ready for private school.The wide age gap in classes is frustrating. You start to notice it behaviorally and academically in first grade, and it’s alarming because it never works in a positive way. Never.

  • >First it was “outcome-based education” (aka “dumbed down education” as it proved to be, three decades after being introduced); now “redshirting” for kindergarten?Don’t stress the kids in learning the basics; instead, stress ’em by holding them back and expecting more of them?I’m sorry, but I will never get the “progressive” mindset in these silly, stupid games that make mere children to be pawns and exercises in parental ego.Thank God I was educated when basic education, and being a kid, was both allowed, and mattered.Lindsay, I don’t envy your coming choices for Punky and Bruiser.

  • >BTW..I don’t know where “Metro” is, but got news fer y’all: long as there are tests, there WILL be prayer in schools. Administrators, deal widdit.

  • >Don’t get me started! I put my bright sweet second son in kindergarten at 5 plus one month. It was the longest six weeks of my life before I pulled him out and put him into a new preschool. The old school teacher would not let up on his poor pencil grip and kept him in from recess for not paying attention. What happened to the kindergarten of our youth? Where we learned our ABCs and sharing and how to hold a pencil? Now half the kids are 5 and doing it again at a private school and the other half are 6 because their parents waited. What about the few kids stuck in the middle? The few that are where they are supposed to be get lost in the shuffle. It turns out my kid has a learning disability so holding him back and getting him help was great. But the teacher wanted to hold him back because of things that were NORMAL five year old boy behavior.I like the Waldorf idea of two kindergartens Jan-June one Kindergarten and June through Dec another. There should not be such a huge age difference within the same class. Doing kindergarten twice-one “practice” in Public school and one “real” in private is ridiculous. And thinking that the extra year gives kids an edge is nuts.Mostly I miss the idea of kindergarten being a place to learn about school. These kids are going to be students for a long time-they should be kids first.

  • >This disgusts me. On every level. I hate that parenting has turned into some sort of competition. I was aware if this practice but not of its prevalence.

  • >My mother did just the opposite. She put me in a private kindergarten that would accept me at a YOUNGER age. So I went through school running about 6 months to a year younger than most of my classmates. That worked out well for me. THIS is just screwy.

  • >and here i’ve been sitting around complaining that my son who was born September 8 and missed the sept 1 deadline has to wait a whole year to start Kindergarten and will turn 6 the first week of school. Imagine a poor little 5 year old in Kindergarten! If the schools are so uptight about deadlines and not letting them in until after they turn 5, they need to consider not letting kids who are too old in! Why would a parent want their kid to be bored in a classroom full of younger kids? I’d rather have them challenged and engaged. Don’t. Get. It.

  • >Really?! I can understand the “gift” (as our preschool teacher used to say) of another year…but 6 going on 7 isn’t a gift, it’s what we called “being held back” and we thought those kids just weren’t very bright. Come to find out, the kids are fine, it’s the parents who aren’t.

  • >Wow, I’ve heard the whole “boys mature slower than girls so hold boys back a year” theory but “redshirting” is nuts– You are spot on about middle and high school issues this causes. There is a HUGE difference between a 13 year old and a 15 year old. Oy!

  • >As a public school kindergarten teacher in an upscale area, I can not begin to tell you the stories about what the parents are doing. A local preschool starts kids as babies…when they are two they are put in those table things that have attached chairs so babies can’t get out and given pencils and paper and forced to start writing their names. At two, they go home with homework of letters and sounds. By 4 they are reading and writing sentences. BUT, they can NOT get along with others, can NOT be on their own for a second or they are being disruptive or out of control and fight, can NOT self manage, can NOT follow simple directions to complete art activities. They have never been allowed to be children…to play…to create…to enjoy the school process and songs…to learn in an appropriate developmental way. They may be academically advanced but they are literally social misfits. I could go on and on as one year I had 7 in my class that were in that particular school. Each parent sat in conferences and told me I was not meeting the needs of their children and why wasn’t I teaching multiple languages to the children??? My reply was always I am interested in fostering well adjusted, well rounded children in a developmentally appropriate manner. They fought me all year until they stepped back and realized their child LOVED my class. The parents fought and fought and were negative, but their child came home every day in love with school. I would say 80% of those students did not return and very well may have done the exact thing you have talked about. usually, it was more that the public school was not pushing them enough. Although, you have no idea the process, lesson plans, and so on that we must go through to make sure we adjust every child’s learning experience to their needs and their level of academics.It is terribly unfortunate the route parenting has taken. We are not their friends, they are not our trophies, they are not an extension of ourselves…they are their own person with their own set of needs and abilities. Unfortunately, what is right from wrong is no longer taught or rather so skewed.

  • >Ok, forgive me, I went back and read the original blog about redshirting……which I have never even heard of before…..shaking head… So glad I homeschool… No, I am not one of those moms who is involved in every homeschool organization(I am involved in NONE of them). And not because I have to keep my kids safe from all the ‘heathens’ lol……but simply, because it is EASIER. And now I’m learning that by homeschooling I am keeping them out of all this made up nonsense that has nothing to do with real life too. Wow, we will find anything… Best we start planning our pregnancies appropriately…….I have four children. Three of them are now 19, 17, and 16. They went to public school in MN until we started homeschooling when they were in 4th, 6th, and 7th grades. All entered school at ‘normal’ time according to birthdays. My second son, after K, 1st, and 2nd grades, thought about holding him back ‘before it got to be too late and would be a stigma with it’, because he always seemed to struggle. He is graduating this year with his older brother. Now have a six year old and it is so fun to not even think about bringing a box of kleenex by Friday, two boxes of pencils by Thursday, 3 dollars by Monday, three red notebooks for this, blah, blah, blah, much more time to live real life. Dumbest question I’ve ever been asked? “How r they going to learn to stand in line”? LOL. Hmmm…..I don’t know……how about the bank?…..the grocery store….lol….shaking head. All have more social life than I, so please, no one comment to me about that….groan. Asked my oldest a few years ago if he wanted to go to public school or keep homeschooling. He tells me, “No, I don’t have time to sit around in a classroom. I’m too busy”. Which pretty much sums it up.And lest this poor grammar, shortcut blog typing thing gives the wrong impression, I am an R.N. and work in the Neonatal Intensive Care(not that that means anything, just saying, I am not the stereotype that comes to mind when someone hears the word ‘homeschool’).And yep, everyone has to make the best decision with the info they have for their family……It just shows……takes all kinds……I also waited to start vaccinating the 6yr old until she was two(when child’s natural immune system is known to be fully developed). Imagine working in the NICU, and at a local pediatric clinic as an R.N. and NOT vaccinating your child on the ‘normal’ schedule. lol. I kept it on the DL as much as I could, didn’t talk about it alot:).

  • >Interesting…I haven’t noticed much redshirting in our area. My son was essentially held back in kindergarten (he has dyslexia and was not mature enough for 1st grade), which worked out well since he was the youngest in the class anyway.What I see more of here is parents pushing their kids up grades. For example, one of my 1st grade daughter’s friends is in 4th grade…they’re only 6 months apart in age. Parents homeschool through K and then test them into the highest grade they can. These kids aren’t gifted (they didn’t test into gifted programs), they’ve just been forcefed enough material to skip grades. I don’t understand it…the same kid I mentioned above is a junior in scouts because she wants to be in with kids in her class, but she isn’t mature or physically big enough to really contribute to and participate in the troop the way other girls do (e.g. I don’t want a seven year old near me with a bow and arrow!). I just think it is so unfair to these kids to put them in situations for which they are so unprepared socially and emotionally.Re Little Girl Big Glasses: IQ and ability tests, which are usually used to determine eligibility for gifted programs, are age indexed down to the month (in addition to or instead of being indexed by grade). Achievement tests measure knowledge and are more likely compare students within a grade rather than against kids of the same age. So, generally kids won’t be labeled “gifted” unless they perform well for their AGE.

  • >Redshirting is actually a really good idea for the child. Studies show most of those kids do much better, academically.

  • >There were FIVE kids in my daughter’s 8th grade class with driving permits. Enough said. She is a 9th grader now and fully half the class behind her is older than she is. Many by more than a year.

  • >Wow. I’ve always just assumed that my kids’ classmates were their age (and to be honest, they all seem to be.)I guess we’ll know for sure when, like B-Mo said, classmates start getting drivers permits.Interestingly, my kids 12 and 11, (not redshirted) were the first in their classes to show signs of puberty. My son’s always been bigger than his peers, and my daughter is the tallest in her class. (So much for Asian stereotypes)They are mid-pack in a VERY competitive school, so I’d say we’re OK. We don’t pressure them. if they try their hardest, we’re happy. But it’s just weird, I had never heard of this before. If it goes on in my kids’ catholic school, it’ not very obvious.

  • >When will it end. Just let kids be kids and stop pushing our competiveness onto them.

  • >Hot button topic for me, for too many reasons to list here, but to hit some of the “high points.” First, I have a daughter in 4th grade (started at age 5, so age 9 at start of year, turned 10 last month). She has a boy in her class who is 13. I was in 9th grade when I was 13! (I started K when I was 4.) I have had to have talks with her regarding subjects I thought I wouldn’t need to address quite so soon, because of the “maturity” (age wise) of this boy (who has expressed interest in my daughter.)Second, I have a daughter in 3rd grade who started the year at 7 and turned 8. She started school when she was 4 (with a late November birthday, and a December 1 cut off date by the school district), which was allowed after much arguing and a perfect score on the admissions test on her part. She gets straight A’s. Her reading tested at 99% nationally (HS comprehension). My daughter is by far the youngest in her grade at her school. We did not anticipate moving when she started school, and did not know we would be entering a “red shirt” district. She is younger than the majority of the 2nd graders, and if she started school in our current district, would be in 2nd grade, (and if we followed local practice, she would be red shirted and in 1st grade).She is, for right now, proud to be the youngest kid in her classes. She has been, over the years, socially a bit behind, but catches up quickly. I don’t know what the future holds for the red shirted children. I wonder if they will be frustrated when they are older? Sophomores old enough to be in the military and vote? HS parties where the seniors have ID to buy beer? I know each parent must make their own decisions for their children, but I worry that holding the kids out has become such an entrenched, accepted practice.

  • >Long time reader, first time posterI will say as a teacher (high school) that even if you’re little love is two years older in kindergarten and has an advantage, that advantage will wear off around 6-8th grade. After this point the “home knowledge” or pre-taught skill from home (we all have the mother in the group that brags about “little suzie who was reading since she was 18 months old…) begin to wear off. Very rarely does a parent pre-teach their child algebra or geometry so academically they will all even out unless they are truly gifted or have a learning disability. As an educator I do suggested that if boys are near the September “cut off” date that they are held back. Boys are usually about 2 years behind females in maturity so having the extra bit of time is usually beneficial. Kirsten

  • >Technically, I’m guilting of redshirting my oldest, but in a public school setting. How did that happen? Was it all a gamble to get him to excel ahead of others? No. The cut-off date for kindergarten where we lived was October 31. His birthday is in November. We moved the July before his birthday. That school district had a cut-off date of November 30, which we discovered two weeks before he was eligible to start kindergaten.Obviously — or at least, obviously to me — you’re not going to throw a kid into kindergarten with just two weeks notice. It turns out, though, that he wasn’t the oldest child — by far. So many parents held back their kids — especially boys — who had birthdays after about June 30.As for what you described — essentially sucking space in a public school setting to bide your time for private school — that just sucks on too many levels.

  • >Before we pulled our kids to homeschool we decided to send our daughter to kindergarten a year “later.” I wonder if some of those parents are keeping their kids home another year just because childhood is fleeting enough as it is – why rush them into school? Maybe another year to grow socially, emotionally and physically isn’t such a bad idea? We seem to rush our kids into growing up so freaking fast. Reading, writing, counting – all those things will come. It’s the short days that involve just being little that fly.

  • >You have just hit my current sore spot. My daughter meets the K cut off by 2 weeks. She’s been tested by 3 different family members who are teachers and say she’s ready for Kindergarten. Her preschool says she’s ready for Kindergarten. We took her to the K testing for the French immersion charter school she will be starting in the fall and were told that she is totally ready for “normal Kindergarten” but since many of her peers are already 6, and it’s French immersion, we should hold back our perfectly capable of Kindergarten daughter so she’ll be “the same age as the rest of the class”. No way! If she’s ready, she’s ready. At the same time I’m worried that she’ll be academically competing with 7 year olds in March since she turns 5 in August. This redshirting is ridiculous! She’s perfectly ready and she might be behind because we refuse to redshirt. I’m so frustrated!

  • >Seriously, what happened to the kindergarten as I remember it when I was actually a kindergartner? The crazy thing is that K is not even mandatory in all 50 states. So you could potentially have a kid who has 2 years of Kindergarten under his belt entering 1st gr. with a child who is potentially entering school for the first time. I taught Kindergarten myself before my girls were born. Kindergarten in opinion should be about the social and communication aspects first, and academics second. There is such an increasing pressure for kids to learn more, faster, earlier. I feel like kids today are lacking in empathy, social skills, respect for adults, and just plain problem solving skills and getting along with others. The focus of kindergarten SHOULD be about getting along, learning to follow directions, paying attention, developing respect for one another and learning appropriate ways to solve problems and just plain get along. If you can’t successfully master those skills, success in school and in life will be quite difficult.

  • >remember when Kindy was all about the fun play stations, snack time and recess? Our major stress was trying not to get our name on the board for talking during nap? Crazy.I home school the kids, so I miss out on this lovely parental phenom.

  • >My son will be five for only a few months when he goes into kindergarten. He’ll probably be a bit bigger than other children, although he’s on the small side. I agree that parents shouldn’t do it on purpose. I just worry about parents being mean to me or my child because of where his age falls, thinking we were purposely doing it. His sibling will be born in Sept. and will have the same issue. I know you aren’t talking about this, as it’s not the same thing. I’m just saying a few of those children might be older for that reason as well.

  • >Something I just thought of. If a child is way too old to be in a classroom, like your example of a 20 year old getting his h.s. diploma; then that child just looks like he got held back in school. I wouldn’t want my child being too old for a grade, it makes them look, how to say it nicely, not smart. Wouldn’t you agree?

  • >My daughter, a Sagittarius, turned six in the middle of kindergarten. Her oldest classmate was asked not to return for first grade next year. Redshirting didn’t work out well for him. My son will be starting kindergarten at the ripe old age of 6 years and 1 month. The school’s cut off is June, about a 3 month phase shift from the public school cut off.

  • >Wow, it seems to me that there should be a law against this kind of thing. My stepdaughter started kindergarten late and then repeated the 1st grade. She will be a few months shy of 20 when she graduates high school. I have always felt so sorry for her because all the kids her age are 2 grades above her.

  • >Woah, I had never heard of that before to be honest. I could never do that. I’m off to check out your article.

  • >Sigh. Again with all the judging of other parents. Don’t we have better stuff to write/talk about than how every one else is doing it wrong?

  • >This is ridiculous. Ready for a long & rambling post?My older sister & I grew up in a dist. w/ a Sept. 1 cut off. I have a Feb. b-day, & was always a B+ average student. My sister has an Oct. b-day, but tested as G&T so she entered K at 4. She was always in the top of her class & graduated at 17. She was naturally competitive (still is) & excelled in sports. I was not (still am not) very competitive, but excelled w/ music. My point is if your kid is naturally competitive, like my sister, they will push ahead just fine w/ peers their own age; they don’t need their parents choosing that path for them. And if they aren’t, they’ll probably be middle of the road like me. Either way, we turned out just fine, even though we weren’t redshirted. And what happened to the stigma of being held back? I remember being in Ms. Whaley’s morning K class & becoming friends w/ a girl named Nicole. Come first grade, Nicole wasn’t in my class. Later that day during recess I saw her on the playground & learned she had to repeat K. SHE WAS HELD BACK! Oh, the horrible shame and horror associated w/ being held back. She wasn’t “smart enough” to move up to 1st grade! I told my mom when I got home & she explained that kids develop at different times & that was probably best for Nicole. It’s one thing to hold your kid back if that’s where they are developmentally, but another thing to redshirt them so they can have some sort of pseudo-advantage over other kids who are technically supposed to be less capable than they are. That brings me to my next question. What happened to ½ day K? We only had ½ days when I went; and all the kids that stayed that school district graduated at the same time. When did full day K become the norm? What happened to transitioning kids into the school routine? Ugh, it all makes me never want to have kids.

  • >Zozo’s Mom – It’s an important issue when your kids have to compete against kids that are 18-24 mo. ahead of them developmentally – mentally, physically & socially – just because you put your child in when they are supposed to be put in. If other parents weren’t trying to one-up everyone else, then there wouldn’t be any issues, and we could all let the chips fall where they may. Do you really want your little Jane being bullied by a big Betty who is 2 yrs older than her? I certainly would hope not.

  • >I get that it’s an important issue. My frustration is that many comments are focusing on (and judging) what OTHERS are doing instead of on how THEY want to deal with their own children. Maybe I’m just having a bad mom week, but I’m feeling pretty down about moms frequently judging each other instead of supporting each other.

  • >This is a serious pet peeve of mine. SERIOUS. Gabriel’s going into kindergarten at five. Because that’s when kids go to kindergarten.

  • >Shannon I agree with you. I was always the youngest in my grade and I always did just fine. I never thought much of the age gap at all. Even being hospitalized in High school for a few months didn’t stop me from Graduating High school on time. I took the Summer school and Night classes just to catch up. It has to do with the drive of the child not the age. Poor kids have a full day of Kindergarten now and it’s very easy for children to get left back these days. The stigma associated with being left back is what drove me in school. No one wanted to be “that kid”. So sad!

  • >I was really excited to be having a baby at the same time as an old friend. The babies were born a few days apart and from the start my friend was super-competetive. My son was more physically advanced than her daughter and she was sooooo jealous. She would call me and brag about ridiculous things like her kid getting a tooth first or my personal favorite, that her kid could eat cheerios but mine would gag. I thought this friend was unique in her insanity until my kids started school… These parents need to back off and chill out! Their kids will be so burned out they will probably skip college to work at a gas station and never play the chosen sport again!

  • >My kids are technically redshirted but that’s because here in Michigan the cutoff is Dec. 1. My boys have late September, October, and November birthdays and they were just really not ready for kindergarten and all that entails when they were four. My fourth son’s birthday is Dec 6, so I won’t have to red-shirt him and he’ll still be almost a year older than some of the kids in his class. Having a child go to two kindergartens to give them an edge is just….crazy.

  • >When I had my five year old tested for private K after he’d spent 2 years there in preschool I was strongly discouraged, I was told he was young (turned 5 in June) and it would be better for him to wait. I sent him anyway, he wanted to read. What I didn’t get was he may have been ready for K with other 5 year olds but he could not compete with 6 year olds. I ended up holding him back and I didn’t bother sending his brother until he was six. It does anger me, I just don’t think it’s right.

  • >Hmmm…I agree with not pushing children too hard. Otherwise, I don’t see the big deal. Maybe I’m missing something? All four of my children attend public schools. My teenagers (19 and 15) began school on time (age 5) and have attended class with children their own age as well as those left back for whatever reason. My daughter is one of the youngest in her class and will be driving later than her peers as well as being only 17 when she graduates. As they have moved on to high school (and now college for my son) they have kids of all ages in their classrooms because advanced freshmen are allowed to take higher level courses with seniors. It has never been a safety issue for them. No one cared if one or two boys began shaving in 7th grade. They thought it was cool. Yes, there are taller boys and more developed girls…but there are smaller and larger, older and younger, smarter and less-intelligent people in the work force as well. In fact, I don’t know of any other situation in life where my kids will only be exposed to people who are exactly the same age as they are. Can you imagine working with only 25 year old for the rest of your life?Of course there are glaring differences in kids’ sizes and development at the middle school level. Unfortunately this isn’t always age-related. My twins are almost 12 and one of them is of average height while the other is the size of an 8 yr old. They were held back a year due to prematurity and the smaller one is still shorter than most of his friends. He just has to deal with the fact that people hit puberty at different times. Oh well. He may end up shorter at 30 as well. Our school system has rules regarding the age of players in sports. If you’ve turned 15 years old before Sept 1 of your 8th grade year, you don’t play. Same with high school…19 before Sept 1 of senior year is the limit. There are no 20 year old men playing football here. Perhaps other schools need similar rules?

  • >Zozo’s Mom – I agree that women in general, not just moms, need to learn to support each other a whole lot more than we do. Women judge each other far too much. But it’s difficult to support someone who is so blatantly not playing fair. We teach our kids that they have to play fair and by the rules. We should lead by example.

  • >To BethanyWD:I will have to disagree with your statement about holding back boys for a year. I was a May baby, and when it came time for Kindergarten testing, I tested too high for it (was around a 4th grade level according to the tests). Instead of skipping Kindergarten and going to first grade, where I would be more mentally stimulated than Kindergarten, they just put me in Pre-1st to keep me with kids my age. Instead of learning, I was constantly bored, and this happened throughout my entire primary school education. If a kid has the mental competency to make it through a particular grade level, the social skills will develop to meet it. Don’t retard the process by holding them back.

  • >On 3 separate occasions, i was offered the opportunity to skip a grade. On 3 separate occasions, my parents turned the school down. (They would have saved a year of tuition in the process). They felt that it would be better that I be allowed to develop my “EQ” as well as my “IQ.” In addition, the class ahead of mine was full of hooligans.

  • >My first boy was an Oct. birthday. My second, a girl, has a July 24 birthday. My husband started school at 4 and graduated at 17. He thinks (use to think, actually) send them as soon as they can go. I don’t agree with holding them back two years (I didn’t even know you could.), but if they have a summer birthday, it’s up to the parents. They know their child better than anyone else. I do disagree with the decision being based on sports, or even academics, for that matter. I don’t think it should be to attempt to give them a leg up. It should be to allow them one more precious year at home to mature and foster a familial relationship where they are a little more ready to face the influences they will in the world of school. (By the way, we do public school.) As with almost every decision made in life, I think it is based on motivation, which is hard to judge. And shouldn’t be anyway.My daughter finished preschool yesterday. She did excatly what I wanted her to: she grew socially and her confidence has blossomed this year in 5-year-old pre-K. I am beyond pleased with our personal decision.And my third child, not a chance she will go to Kindergarten when she is four with her Sept. 29th birthday. By the way, my husband completely agrees with me now.

  • >My oldest's best "preschool" friend was red-shirted. Philip had a June b-day, and although academically on point, was a bit "retiring." He needed the extra yr to develop some confidence & is now a charming young man. My younger son (March birthday) possibly going to need to be red-shirted for the same reason. I hesitate because he is already so much physically larger than the other kids. I don't want him to be labeled a "jughead" or me a competitive/pushy mother b/c his emotional development will delay him a yr. I don't want him to hate school b/c he can't handle the emotional pressures yet.I know it's a minority, but there are those who red-shirt for "good" reasons…and usually after jumping thru many hoops w/the school district.

  • >Hey! My son has a May 24th birthday, so I am struggling with the decision of sending him to K when he’s 5 or 6. I would send him when he’s 5, but am afraid that since all the moms are waiting to send their kids, he’ll seem immature. My husband had a June birthday and he went to school as a 5 yr old. . he always excelled at athletics and is a professor. . .I don’t agree with holding them back for athletic reasons. What to do?!

  • >JessicaMae3–You put it beautifully…they are not our trophies. That is what this all boils down to, I think. Parents are basing their own self-worth on the accomplishments of their children. I tried to say the same thing over at City Paper, but you put it so much better her.

  • b

    >My oldest will be entering Kindergarten this year. She has a Jan. birthday, is incredibly bright and mature, but also very small for her age. I have been told by both her pediatrician and preK teacher that she is doing first grade work already and could skip ahead, but that her size and age will be a major disadvantage. Though I can’t feasibly do it, homeschooling is looking better and better.On the flip side, our cut-off date of October 1st seems very late to me. Many of my friends who live elsewhere have a Sept, or August cut-off date, which makes for an older crowd anyway.

  • >I think we all agree that “red shirting” so your kid can be the biggest, etc. is questionable and throws off the balance. I hate when I see a kid held back or re-doing kindergarten in private school. I do think those kids will be bored. But I like to think people are supportive of moms like me who held her son back for the right reasons. Kindergarten “readiness” is not just one thing. It is not just pencil grip and reciting ABCs. It is waiting your turn and using manners and being able to delay gratification. Kindergarten should be all about learning those things. Instead it has gotten so heavily academic that the expectations placed on these kids is developmentally impossible for some five year olds.It is hard enough having kids at such different ages but often kids who are the same age are very different developmentally. The kid who can read may still not be able to cut with scissors.I wish these kids could take back kindergarten! Back off of the academics and teach learning through play in the structure of a classroom. That is what kindergarten ought to be about. Not the new first grade. I liked the old first grade.

  • >I think it is a problem created more by parents than by schools. If schools make the admission criteria more restrictive, some kids might face problems. A friend of mine decided to hold her son back one year because he is lagging a little in physical development and she is afraid he’d become a target for the bullies AND have problems with day to day tasks. I understand such parents’ concerns. It is the other parents who are twisting this criteria to suit themselves that tick me off. But a small part of my mind also wonders if that is so bad. It IS a parent’s duty to give whatever opportunity they can possibly give to their child. I would never redshirt my child but I am just trying to understand what makes a parent do this.I wouldn’t worry too much about the academic “leg-up” these kids will have over my kid. Research has shown that kids who lag behind due to a late start usually catch up by sixth grade given the right environment. I am not sure if that happens with regards to their mental, emotional and social development. I would, definitely, worry about the mental, emotional and social advantage the redshirted kids will have in later years.

  • >Wow. I didn’t realize this was going on! My daughter misses the cut off for kindergarten enrollment by 12 days, and I was really worried about her being the oldest in her class next year. Apparently an extra year of pre-school will just give her a leg up. :)Back when I was in school, there was a stigma attached to kids who were older. Back then it usually meant that you’d been held back for some reason (other than being competitive). ~Brandi

  • >My son has a September birthday. I’m thinking about holding him back for a year. I haven’t decided yet, he’s only 3. I really don’t want him starting at 4 though. I don’t think private schools hold back any more than public schools. What does red shirt mean?

  • >yes. completely stupid. my son is in 4th grade and a lot of his giant preschool friends are in 3rd grade. which gives you NO LEEWAY if they are to fail or be held back. geez, i was so ready for BOTH of my kids to go to kindergarten, i hardly came to a complete stop at the drop-off. (kidding, people. kidding.)

  • JCK

    >This is definitely a problem, but there are many parents like myself who have children who are emotionally not ready for Kindergarten at 4 turning 5. So, we give them an extra year, and they are 5 turning 6. And that year makes a tremendous difference in their development and growth, social confidence, etc. So much more is expected of children in Kindergarten. At least here in the States. It is a tremendous amount of pressure to put on a child. Once they get turned off to school, it’s very hard to get them back.

  • >Here in Big D, we implement the five-year plan in pre-school, and we hold ’em back until puberty. By the time they graduate high school, they’re grandparents. What is so wrong with that?

  • >Parenting has gotten totally stupid. I am so glad I am a rebel. I homeschool my kids and for example my oldest would be in 5th grade this year. She did 4th grade Spelling, 4th grade English, 6th grade math, 7th grade Science, and…well…I am not really certain what grade level to put her Social Studies in since really the things she learns they don’t really teach at any grade level. I am so thankful I can go slow with the weaker subjects and faster with the strong ones and I can be consistent. I don’t do it to make my kids ‘smarter’. I do it to make my kids ‘real’. I am not only raising children, but future adults. There is no such thing as failing in my house. There is no only getting something at 70, 80, or even 90%. Something is learned and we don’t move foward until it is. And they are never made to feel like failures when something takes longer to understand because there are no grades….only working at it until it clicks. When they get it is irrelevant and the only thing that is relevant is that they do.I have 2 very good friends who both have boys that just turned a year with a month difference between them. The younger one started walking at 10 months but doesn’t do much talking. The older still has yet to walk, but babbles his cute little butt off. The mother of the older one who has yet to walk nervously asked me one day if I thought there was something wrong with her son. It was just sad that any mother would even have to think that. He is going to learn to walk, just like the other little boy will learn to talk. When they get there is irrelevant because the only thing relevant is that they do….and they will.Society treats kids like cattle and it really is sick. Herd them in and expect them to all learn the same things at the same time and in the same way….oh, but be an individuals. The educational system is laughable and hypocritical. The fact that most parents who no doubt love their children buy into this is about the saddest thing in the world to witness. What’s even sadder? A 15 year old boy having to have hip surgery or a 17 year old who has broken collar bones, legs, arms, and had so many concussions he borders on brain damage but continues to play football because it makes daddy proud. Injuries that will be with these kids for life all for the sake of daddy being able to brag about his star athlete son during his brief high school stint. Wow. They should be so proud of themselves.

  • >Pardon me for going off topic but I could not let this lady’s ending remarks pass without comment. If you don’t want your kids to experience sports, then train them that you think it’s a bad and dangerous thing for them to do and that you will not allow them to participate. You and “daddy” must work out the message, not the poor kids who, apparently, have no say.But also, if you don’t want your kids to do things that could be bad and dangerous, then don’t let them drive, play video games, have a cell phone, surf the internet, have a pet, play in the park, climb a tree, go swimming, even dream, or do anything else kids and their friends would enjoy doing together. After all, these could be bad and dangerous activities and cause life-long injury and problems. One might say this is an apples to oranges comparison. Perhaps or perhaps not.

  • >I didn’t say sports were bad or even that kids shouldn’t play. What is bad is a kid who feels he can not stop or a dad who won’t let his kid stop after life altering injuries. Actually I think sports are a good thing as long as it it something the kid desires and not something the parent desires. My daughters ride horses and if they fall off and get hurt and never want to get back on I would never make them feel like they had to.Not once did I ever say kids should not play sports…not once.

  • >People have been doing this for years to give their kids an edge in sports. I guess we should be glad (!??) that academics are worth it now too.

  • >I work at a private school in North Alabama. “Redshirting” hasn’t hit here yet. I’ve never even heard of it. The idea just blows my mind! Sounds like it’s just a competition among parents.

  • >We waited to enter kindergarten for both our children – summer birthdays. It has worked well for us. There are kids who are older than them in both their classes. Nobody here thinks much about it – it’s a personal decision for families. We waited due to social immaturity, and our youngest is special needs. I think a few parents might hold back to give their kids a leg up in sports or academics, but I think most parents simply want that extra year of maturing, like we did.

  • >I feel for the girls who are being ‘red shirt’d’ they are going to be so much more physically mature than their classmates and everyone knows that that isn’t a good thing

  • >Interesting, I figured this was always for kids with summer or fall birthdays. My friend is a special ed teacher and says there is such a difference in first graders who are just turning 6 in September, versus a kid who will be 7 the following January. But that’s the way most school districts work. If the kid turns 5 by the end of the calendar year, they can start k, but they’re so much younger and less mature than their classmates. It’s really unfortunate.

  • >I am personally really freaking out that my son who has a birthday 2 weeks after our district's December cutoff is about to enter kindergarten at the age of 5 1/2 not because of his age but because 1.) We never found a preschool with an opening for him and 2.) It feels like he is going into first grade with the 6 hour day and the list of expectations I was handed by the school. The principal even stated in her welcome letter that yes, Kinderegarten is the new first grade. I am scared to death he will be labeled the problem kid even though he went to a social skills class for 6 months. I spent from the age of 3.5 to now worrying incessantly about his lack of experience before kindergarten and I am so sad now that I couldn't just *enjoy* the time with him, there has always been this worry in the back of my mind, and often at the forefront. Will there be enough other children like my son for the teacher to set the curriculum at an appropriate level? Will he be able to take the six hour day? I was always the kind of parent who was relaxed about school until I was notified for the 3rd time that there was no space for him at the 3rd preschool where we applied. I am angry that not only does he miss out on the transition time to ease into school, but I do too!Putting him in school suddenly for 6 hours a day is going to be hard on us. Send me all your confident and supportive mom thoughts, because I am going to need them!

  • >Try not to worry. He's going to be fine. My daughter hasn't been to preschool either, but I've put her in enough community clases to see her interact with children and adults and know she's going to be okay. I'm sure your son will be the same way.

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  • Bethany

    My son has a late September birthday and I kept him in pre-school simply because he wasn’t ready for Kindergarten – lots of boys aren’t after just turning 5. I did what was best for my child and was hardly based on him being the oldest or ‘best’ – the fact that parents would actually make a decision that’s sports related, is laughable. I never even knew there was a term for this until recently – I only acted in the best interest of my child, based upon his individual needs…as everyone should.

  • agirlandaboy

    Interesting. In my area (SF Bay), we hear more about parents starting their kids in private kindergartens, then moving them into public school, not vice versa. Since I have a son who will just barely miss the kindergarten cutoff but will otherwise be very ready for Kindergarten as a four-almost-five-year-old, my beef with this whole thing is that it’s unfair that parents are allowed to redshirt but it’s much harder to test kids in early. I wrote about it here:

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