The term “redshirting” used to be applied to high school and college athletes. The “red shirts” were the ones needing to gain more experience before joining the varsity team. Now, more commonly, moms of preschoolers are using it for their children.
When my oldest, Asher was born, I knew that about 5 years later I’d need to make a tough decision about kindergarten. Asher was born in August, which puts him as one of the youngest in his class and there is a lot of research out there about whether or not that is a disadvantage. As a kid, I felt it was a disadvantage. Being born in May birthday, I was one of the youngest in my grade. I often wonder “If I had been “redshirted”, would I have benefited?” I struggled with math, sometimes with socialization, and I was one of the last of my friends to get a drivers’ license, which kind of sucked. As a result, my husband and I leaned toward redshirting our son and having him spend another year in preschool. He will be almost 6 when he starts kindergarten
The Pros and Cons
As an educator, and natural researcher, I dug into the pros and cons of redshirting. The research I found showed that many parents choose to redshirt to get a “leg up” for their child. However, the benefits of the “leg up” may quickly dissipate by third grade. However, anecdotally I know that many kids who are not socially or emotionally ready for kindergarten generally benefit from spending another year in preschool. On the other hand, some kids can benefit greatly from being the youngest and having to perform at higher level with their older classmates.
Knowing all this now, and that really, its all a wash by third grade. Our decision was really quite personal and for the present. We had to look at what would really be right for Asher as a 4 almost 5 year old. I feel we’ve made the right decision in that he really needs the extra year.
The gift of time can greatly change the success a child feels in school. That is where the heart of our decision lies. Asher, like a typical 4 year old, still needs to work on following directions and sitting and attending to a task for an extended period of time. He just isn’t quite developmentally ready for the academic rigors of Kindergarten in 2018. He is also on the autism spectrum. This means in general he’ll just need a little more time to catch up with his peers and that’s ok! If more time gives my son the confidence in academics that he needs, then I’m taking advantage wholeheartedly.