Making the Decision to Red-Shirt Your Kindergartner


Oh mommas, believe it or not, it’s that time of year to start registration for Kindergarten. My little one is 18 months old and while kindergarten may seem a distant milestone, the truth is it will be here before I know it. Not long ago I heard a group of mothers talking and one of them mentioned redshirting her son. My ears perked up. Surely this 30 something mom is not old enough to have an NCAA eligible athlete as a son, right? Then I realized she wasn’t talking about a standout on Dave Campbell’s Texas Football watch list, but about her 5-year-old who was adeptly navigating the monkey bars nearby.

In case you are as out of the loop as I was, redshirting is the practice of postponing entrance into kindergarten of age-eligible children in order to allow extra time for socio-emotional, intellectual, or physical growth. The term is borrowed from college sports, where athletes will practice with the team for the first year, but sit out competition while they get bigger, stronger, and more competitive (hence why my football loving ears perked up at the playground!).

Here are some pros and cons from a previous AMB article. 

Red-shirting Pros

  • Emotional maturity – Kindergarten nowadays isn’t like it was when we were kids. They have homework, less playtime, no naps!
  • Physical maturity – There are a lot of arguments out there for physical maturity of an older child meaning better results in athletics.
  • Better grades – There are mixed answers on this, but one theory is an older child will do better because they will have a better ability to grasp the information
  • Leader – An older child will be a leader instead of a follower in the class.

Red-shirting Cons

  • Harder on the teacher – She might have kids as young as 4.5 and as old as 6.5 – that is tough!
  • Motivation – Might push younger child {the non-redshirts} to strive to achieve what the older kids are doing
  • Labels child a ‘failure’ – The child might think there is something wrong with them that made them be ‘held back’
  • Lazy – Some studies show that an older kid actually DOESN’T make better grades/become a leader because the work is ‘easy’ for them.

My memories of kindergarten are of a warm nurturing teacher, a bright stimulating environment, learning letters and numbers, and the smell of melted crayons for craft time. We sat on colorful carpet remnants in circle time, didn’t have desks, and rotated through fun sensory stations. Today kindergarten is much more academic. That combined with the high-stakes testing in today’s schools made me pause to think, would I redshirt my son?

Did you redshirt your child? Any regrets? Has redshirting your child helped them excel?


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One Response to Making the Decision to Red-Shirt Your Kindergartner

  1. Lysbeth March 1, 2016 at 9:45 am #

    We did not redshirt. In fact, my first born (now 7) entered Kinder at 4 and was in 1st grade math. My second just turned 5 and will be starting 1st in the fall and doing 2nd grade math. They are just ready for the work. Both my husband and I were so bored in school from a lack of being challenged that when we realized our kiddos were following in our footsteps, especially in math and behaviorally, we decided they needed to be challenged more academically that the social part. Don’t get me wrong, they get along well with their fellow classmates, but you can tell they are younger. My 5 year old still can fit in 3T clothes. But they hold their own academically in their classes.

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