To Redshirt or Not to Redshirt? That Is the Question. - Chicago,IL

Updated on January 25, 2014
S.A. asks from Chicago, IL
36 answers

My 4 yr old son is in Pre-K 4 this year. He has an August birthday, so he started preschool right after he turned 4. He will be eligible to start K right after he turns 5.

I've had some misgivings all along this year that he might not be ready. His motor skills are a little behind, so he's not writing as well as other kids in his class. They have just started learning sight words since being back from Christmas break and he's not really picking up on them that well. I know that he has 4 more months or so to catch up, but still, I worry.

I had his conference just a week or so ago, and his teacher thinks he'll be ready. She said they don't have to know that much to enter kindergarten. She will do a screening in May, but made it sound like as long as he knows the minimum to pass, he'll advance to K.

I worry that he will struggle in K once the work steps up after next winter break. I don't want him to be a step behind everyone else. I don't want this to be something I'll end up regretting forever. My SIL sent her daughter (also with an August birthday) to K even though she didn't feel she was ready. And she wasn't. She is now in second grade and struggles with reading. She has to be pulled for extra help.

So for those with kids with late summer birthdays, did you redshirt? Why or why not? If not, do you regret it? If so, do you regret it? Was your child ever teased for being a whole year older than the rest of the kids? Do you find it better or worse that they are a year older?


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So What Happened?

Thank you so much for all of your thoughtful responses. Most of you mentioned not holding him back for academic reasons, but rather social immaturity. I do not feel he's immature at all. He is the youngest of 3, and is used to being around older kids all of the time. I think he's right on target from a maturity standpoint. My only concern is with his fine motor skills, and possibly reading. I think I'l wait until the end of the year and reevaluate.

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answers from New York on

Send him. Soon we will have 8 yo starting first grade it is crazy. By the time they hit third grade, you never would know who went to preschool, who did not, who maybe did not do well in K or first. Back when my kids went to,school, holding back was never even a thought unless there were glaring deficits. Now in K there is an almost two year age gap. T me that is nuts.

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answers from Chicago on

I would wait another year especially if you have some reasons to . We have 2 different neighbors born a week apart in August The girl child waited another year before starting kindergarten (moms a teacher) . She is doing great . The boy neighbor is a year ahead . He is smaller for his age to begin with . He has to work very hard yo keep up . It's a no-brainer for me . Set him up to succeed:) But don't have him repeat kindergarten twice .He will miss his friends and feel uncomfortable about not moving up .Good luck :)

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answers from Chicago on

First, you can search this site for this same question and see many differing POV's.

My daughter has a late August birthday and we decided to allow her to be the oldest in her class rather than the youngest.

She attends a small private school. I was amazed that all her classmates in kindergarten turned 6 shortly after school started, the last one turned 6 in January, so essentially they were all very close in age. After seeing that, I was very happy we didn't put her in when she just turned 5.

We also wanted to look beyond elementary school. Middle school and high school can be rough for kids. Our daughter is very bright academically but with the peer pressure in the higher grades, we thought an older kid MIGHT make better choices and not give in to peer pressure as easy as a younger kid.

As for academics, if your son is just getting by to enter kindergarten, is this something your ok with? Does your SIL regret her decision? Whats her advice to you?

Kids don't get teased for being older, they do get teased for being the *baby*. Well lets face it, kids get teased period…

My view is that your son would do better going to pre k another year.

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answers from Portland on

Please listen to your son's preschool teacher. Think about it... she knows how your son does without you, in the classroom/group environment. If it were the case that he really could use extra time at a pre-K, she would likely tell you, seeing that she might benefit directly, right? :)

I think it's natural to worry that our kids will struggle. Many kids are uneasy at the beginning of kindergarten-- it's not uncommon for them to really hit their stride in January. They are learning so much, but it's also important for him to be with his age group, socially. My son's birthdate was in April, so I could have gone either way, I suppose; I had reservations, too, but remember, they all sort of even out around third grade. You can always enroll him now, during the kindergarten round up, and then , if you get a strong sense from the teacher in May or June that he needs more time, you can just give him another year. Enrolling him doesn't mean it's set in stone and remember, compulsory education doesn't usually begin until age 6 in most states. You do have the option not to send him if you really feel he needs another year of preschool. My only caution would be-- if you hold him back, do it for social/self-help reasons, not academic. Seriously-- my son didn't know much of the alphabet or numbers and ZERO sight words other than his name. He's in first grade and has been at grade level all along. Have faith in your little guy!

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answers from Seattle on

My son has an October birthday. He missed the cutoff here by 6 weeks. Academically, he was MORE than ready to go to school when he was just shy of turning 5. Socially he wasn't even close.

Based on the advice of my MIL, who has an ECE degree, has raised 6 kids, ran an in-home daycare while her kids were growing up, and is a preschool teacher, AND the advice from mom's here, when it was Mamasource, AND listening to my SIL research results (her son's birthday is Sept 1st, missed by one day), I chose to wait.

I'm glad I did. He's now in 4th grade and thriving. He's one of the oldest in his class. He still struggles socially a little bit, but not nearly as badly as if I'd pushed him in early. He also was diagnosed with Asperger's and ADHD a year ago. He's 10 now.

Found my old question:

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answers from Los Angeles on

I do not believe in redshirting unless there is a major red flag. In my opinion, being young is 100% not a reason to put off kindergarten. The cut off date is there for a reason - children born before the cut off are expected to succeed. There is no reason to assume a child on the younger side won't be able to keep up.

Kids do not have to be reading sight words when they start kindergarten. They need to know how to write their names and they should be able to recognize all of their letters, though some don't. If they know the sounds the letters make, that is helpful but, again, not necessary.

If your niece is in second grade and still struggling with reading, I honestly don't think it's because of her age. I just think there are some kids that it doesn't click with and that require more help. They are given enough instruction in kinder and first that most will pick it up.

My son is in first grade and each week I volunteer for an hour with the 19 lowest readers in the grade (out of 90 kids total). They have a range in ages, including one who turned 7 in September and another who turned 6 in October. A lot of it comes from how much help/practice they get at home. For a few of them, it's a language barrier, though those kids are picking it up quickly as their English improves. There are other kids who turned 6 in September and October and are in the middle and highest reading groups. Several with summer birthdays are in the highest.

It's not their age. A child should be in kindergarten when they are five years old, not six. Kindergarteners focus on a letter each week - how to write it, what sound it says, etc. They are not expected to come out reading. First grade is focused on basic sight words, high frequency words, and building up the ability to sound out words that actually meet the rules of grammar. It's NOT that intense.

I really don't think you should hold back an August baby (my brother and I both have August birthdays and were successful in school). He will be ready for kindergarten.

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answers from Miami on

Here's what happened with my younger son. He would have been one of the youngest in his kinder class. I worked hard with him to help him be ready for school. He was in a great pre-school and I had a lot of faith in his teachers.

In the spring, the preschool director talked to me about how she felt about him going to school. She told me to have the guidance counselor give him a fully kinder readiness test. She said that she felt that he needed to mature before going to school and wanted me to consider having him stay in preschool for another year.

I very much wanted he and his brother to be two years apart in school, as they are two years apart in age. When the guidance counselor told me that he tested a little above average in some things and a little below average in others, I asked her what SHE would do if my son were hers. She told me that if I couldn't afford preschool and needed to send him to kinder for financial reasons, to put him in school and hopefully he would catch up on the maturity issue by the end of the school year. But if I didn't have a problem with paying for preschool, to keep him there. She told me that being the youngest in the class, especially for a boy, can be hard on them. She also told me that in the higher grades, it can really come to bear, the age difference.

I trusted the people whose advice was given with my son's best interest in mind. It turned out that it didn't hurt my kids relationship at all to be 3 years apart in school. And I have never been sorry that I "red-shirted" him. At this point, he is a senior in high school and I will only have to pay one year of double tuition instead of two. That helps with THAT sting! LOL!

I recommend that you go the route I went this coming June and see how the testing goes and the feelings of those teachers he works with.

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answers from Honolulu on

My son was almost exactly like that, is August born, and only had 6 months of Preschool, and entered into Kindergarten at 4, then turned 5.
And he, was fine.
I didn't worry about my son.
Neither did the Preschool Teacher.
Nor did his Kindergarten Teacher.
And, he QUICKLY blossomed, in Kinder, and did fine.
He was never, "behind" the other kids, academically nor socially nor emotionally. In fact, older or younger kids, cannot be compared. My son was on the young end. And he was fine. Then some of the older ones, were not.
It really varies.

At this age, they do NOT have to know, sight words.

I have a son and daughter. BOTH late born.
And both entered Kinder at 4, then turned 5.
And they NEVER had, any problems, academically or socially or emotionally.

- I work at a school. I see and know kids that were held back.
And it is mostly boys. And, well, they look older. Physically they really look older. And in height. And, from what I see, the kids that are held back, are NOT necessarily better. Some even regress because they are around kids who are younger than them. Or, they STILL have the exact SAME issues & problems they had last year (and that was the reason the parents held their child back), and it has not, changed, at, all. They still have the same, problems or immaturity.
And, it can be real boring for the kid. Too. Because they are repeating the same thing, again.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I think it's just sad to expect any child to flunk kindergarten. Why put him through pre-K again, he won't be learning anything that will help him in kindergarten that he doesn't already know right now so it's a wasted year.

Put him with the kids his own age and see how he does. Kids have a huge mental growth spurt between Christmas of their kindergarten year and the end of first grade, they become total sponges and soak up everything. He may not be ready to move to first grade at the end of kindergarten but he certainly won't be any more ready for kindergarten next year than he will be in August of this year.

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answers from Austin on

Honestly, I think he sounds like he is doing great. From now till school starts he will be even more prepared..

You can look up, Therapies for fine motor skills to build up his hand strength.. Do not call it therapy, it is just fun things to do.. Especially now with the cold weather.. You will need crayons, playdo, some small cars and big pieces of paper. I used to use old Gift wrap paper on the plain side.. ..

If he is good at following directions. Is good at paying attention. Can communicate his feelings. Wait his turn, share.. He is going to do just fine in Kinder this fall.

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answers from Washington DC on

My son has a July birthday. He started K when he was 5. He has had no problems at all. He is in 1st grade now and is in advanced math! His preschool teacher had told me that he was really behind in his fine motor skills and to have him play with play dough and cut paper. He did that all summer and was writing his name with no problem by Sept. If your sons teacher says he will be fine to start, then I wouldn't worry about it

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answers from Washington DC on

Talk to her again in May. You don't have to choose now. You can choose later. My DD is also an August baby and my friend's son was 4 days shy of the cut off for our district. She red shirted her son. I sent my child forward. We both have had moments of doubt. In the end, it will be like the preschool teachers told me - we'll never truly know because we don't have a clone of that child to observe doing the opposite.

My SS was always older (Dec. baby with a Sept. cutoff) and my SD was always younger (late July). They both fared OK and had their strengths and weaknesses. One of the things I did with DD was send her to a summer session that the school offered before I made my decision. She did OK there, so we sent her on to K. Even had I not sent her to K, the reality was her preschool teachers didn't think she'd be challenged there, so I would have had to have found a new program for her.

You are already worrying what will happen a year from now. Start with seeing who he becomes in a few months. If over the course of the summer you don't think he has the maturity (which I think is the biggest thing - my DD is smart, and my friend's son is super smart, but we both worried about the kids' maturity) to go to K, then find another program for him. But do listen to what the preschool teachers have to say. This is your son, not your niece. If you think he will struggle, why? What are your specific concerns and can the preschool help you address them?

Could you talk to the kindergarten? See the "norm"? There's a wide range of abilities coming into K, even if what they "want" is a kid who does x y and z. I bet he's not as far behind as you think he is since he's been in preschool. And as far as writing, there are things you can do to encourage that, but bear in mind he's only 4.

Overall, I don't regret sending my daughter to K. We thought hard about it. She has her moments of behavior which could be better, but she's flying through the reading and is already at a first grade level (and she met her first sight word in the elementary school's summer program, not in preschool). She would have been bored to tears in preK. So we work with her on the areas she needs to manage and praise her for her successes. Every kid has his or her issues. Even my super academic, super well behaved SS had problems with things like time management his whole public school career.

So....unless there is a huge maturity problem, my opinion is to send him on if the preschool says he's ready. See what he can do. If you do hold him back, do it for his own sake, not because it's currently trendy or something. Talk to HIS teachers and HIS schools and really think about HIM.

ETA: If you feel he could use some work on motor skills, talk to the teacher. There's a lot you can do before August.

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answers from Boston on

Red shirt is a term from athletics - has to do with keeping someone off a team so they can play an extra season or year. That happens a lot in prep schools where there is a 5th year after high school - you save your top athlete for the later season.

My son has a June birthday. I didn't start him at 5, but waited until 6. We did an extra year of preschool. I never regretted it for one second. My reasons were many - he was physically small. He had been a long-nap kid until well past the age of 4 (3 hours per afternoon) and I knew he could never handle afternoon programs at age 5. He didn't have as much focus as I hoped. I knew I could not make a mistake in keeping him out a year. I knew I could make a huge mistake if I started him too soon. Repeating a year is so much more devastating than just waiting to start.

You already have your answer - you have concerns, and that's enough. His motor skills are behind. Moving on to kindergarten has nothing to do with how many words they can read or how smart they are. I have no idea why the teacher is talking about having the bare minimum in skills - you want your child to really be ready. I agree kindergarten is not about what knowledge they have (writing, sight words) but more about being able to hold their own in a large group, sit in a circle and walk in a line, follow directions, and negotiate their own space without whacking the next kid. I'm not sure your SIL's daughter's problems with reading have anything to do with her age - it could be something else. Lots of kids need extra help for lots of reasons. But the point is, your SIL didn't trust her own gut.

I never heard one single thing in the negative. He was never teased about being a year old because he wasn't the only one (so he wasn't actually a year older!), no one ever questioned what was "wrong" with him that he didn't start at 5. In fact, a few other kids in the neighborhood did the same thing, and then they all started at the same time with those who "just missed" the cut-off. So a whole gang of friends started together. Even if that's not what's going on in your neighborhood, your child will never know the difference if you give him another year of skill development - that means motor skills (fine and gross), socialization, maturity, focus, etc. It does NOT mean drilling on the alphabet or anything else. Fine motor skills can be honed not just by writing, for example, but by doing crafts, painting with a brush, coloring, stacking legos, working jigsaw puzzles, and other activities.

So again, I never regretted my decision, no one knew the difference, no one teased him. He was still one of the smallest kids in his class until about junior year of high school, but he found out freshman year that joining the cross country and track teams had nothing to do with his size or height. He turned into a champion runner. And he was one of the first to get his driver's license - but far from the only one, believe me. The youngest kids in the class got pretty frustrated waiting until the end to be able to drive! So there will actually be benefits down the line.

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answers from Billings on

Boys and girls are not the same. Schools try to lump all the kids together by age and gender to keep things easy. Lots of boys just aren't ready for the rigors of school. Girls that start k young are usually fine. A lot will be expected of your son in K. Is he ready to sit and listen to directions and do a lot of writing? You are smart for at least thinking of what might be best.

FWIW, I red shirted my son, no regrets

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answers from Colorado Springs on

I read your post because I had no idea what the color of a shirt would have to do with anything!

But to respond to your question, my younger son (now an adult) has a September 3 birthday. He was always bright - and still is - but as preschool time ended we decided that a little more social maturity might be good for him. He could have spent another year at preschool but his teacher said he would be bored. So he went to kindergarten twice. He didn't *have* to repeat kindergarten; he was *privileged* to have another year of it! No, he wasn't teased about his age at all. And as he progressed through his school years, he was the oldest in his class instead of the youngest.

I don't know how it would have been had he needed to put off third grade, or ninth grade. But preschool and kindergarten? Not a big deal.

Happily, his children are spring and summer babies, so there won't be any birthday questions about them.

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answers from Chicago on

My son turned 5 in early June and, as of now, we're planning on sending him to Kindergarten in the fall. He is pretty immature still, but so were a lot of the younger kids in my older son's kindergarten class.

I read an article a few weeks ago that said that younger kids tend to do BETTER than the red shirted kids, because they're always trying to work harder to prove that they can do it.

My son is so excited to start Kindergarten. He can't wait to do some of the things that his older brother gets to do already.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Current research supports starting them at their correct age (5) and not red shirting them. Their is no detriment either academically or socially when matched groups of kids are followed all the way through high school. There are apparently down sides to being the oldest kid.

To the moms who say you will never regret having your kid be the oldest- not true. My son has a late December birthday and we have a September cutoff so we had no choice at all so he is one of the oldest kids. So for him to be where he would be if he had just started K the year he would turn 5, he is pulled out for advanced reading and does differentiated math within the classroom. My brother and I each skipped a year of school and we started K when we had each just turned 5 (that put us right in the middle of the pack age wise back then). Thank god my parents didn't ever consider holding us back.

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answers from Phoenix on

I haven't read the other responses. This is my experience. My son's bday is 8/20. The cutoff in our district is 8/31. When he was that age, my husband and I both felt he was not ready for Kindergartenl. He was bright in preschool and really wasn't behind, but our gut said to wait. They say that boys do better in school if they start after age 5.5. So we did red shirt him. He took another year of preschool and went into Kindergarten at 5 turning 6. We have never questioned this decision. He's in 3rd grade now. But I do have to say he was diagnosed with ADHD in Kindergarten and has been on meds since. He struggles in school academically. And every year, it becomes harder and harder. He's just not where he needs to be to learn fractions, division, etc. He struggles with spelling and writing. I couldn't imagine having him in 4th grade right now, it would be a nightmare.

My now 4 year old daughter, shares his birthday (8/20). She has been writing her name since she was 3, she knows all her letters and their sounds, and she just started reading last weekend. She knows simple math. Her preschool teacher can not believe how advanced she is and she is the youngest child in her class by a few months. We are putting her in Kindergarten this coming year, we are not red shirting her. She is more than ready.

My point is, every child is different. But for a boy, I would definitely lean towards red shirting. I am so thankful I did. Don't just think about how he would do in Kindergarten, think about how he could handle the ongoing grades that get harder and harder each year. If he's youngest in the class, it'll be hard in the later years, not so much in Kindergarten and 1st grade. Good luck! And to answer your question, my son has not been teased for being older. Not yet anyway.

I read some other responses and I want to add that you should check with your district about the option to repeat Kindergarten. Some district will NOT allow this. There may have to be significant signs that he is struggling before they allow him to repeat Kindergarten instead of moving on to 1st grade. If your gut says to wait, then make sure if you do put him in Kindergarten this year, that you do have the option of repeating, if you are hoping for that to be your fall back.

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answers from Detroit on

I think you should read some studies on this.. google redshirt effects or something.. I used to think sure hold them back.. but I think the studies show the best way to get ready for kinder is to go to kinder.

I have a first and second grader.. I have been in the classroom enough to know you can absolutely tell the younger kids from the older kids in kinder.. they cant color write or draw as well they are not as coordinated.. they are young.. ..
by 3rd grade these differences vanish.. because the kids have the shared experience of school.. they all level out..

I would probably send him and see how it goes.. if it doesn't work.. he can repeat kinder.. or repeat first grade..

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answers from San Francisco on

Please understand that your child does not HAVE to know ANYTHING to go into kindergarten. My GD never went to one day of preschool. She only knew how to sing the alphabet and write her name. Period. She only recognized the letters in her name. She did great in Kindergarten and every year since.

To be honest, as long as you take the time to help with homework to re-enforce what they learned in school, he should be fine. It kills me that a preschool would say that a child cannot progress to kindergarten because they aren't academically prepared. Again, a child does not have to know anything to go to kindergarten and it does not mean that they will continually struggle.

As for your sister's child, it could be that she would still struggle if she stayed home for the one more year - you don't know that starting K just after turning five is the reason she struggles.

Also, FYI, I started K on my 5th birthday and of course never saw the inside of preschool (I don't even think they had preschool then, lol!) and I never struggled either.

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answers from Washington DC on

You may someday regret having him be the youngest in the class but you will never regret having him be one of the oldest.

I have an October son (5th grade) and am so grateful in so many ways that he is older. It could just be a coincidence but all of the older ones seem more calm, mature, focused and confident than the younger kids, especially the boys. I thought at this age a year wouldn't make that much of a difference, but in his class, it does. Also, surprisingly, there are at least 4 or 5 older than he is, with summer b-days.

I really think an extra year will pay off in high school and college, as well.

All of this is said only from my experience. It really depends on the child, the class and what people are doing with their August-born children in your area.

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answers from New York on

Never heard the expression redshirt. What's the origin of that?

My son also has a Summer birthday (late July) and I would have held him back had he not been the tallest kid in his grade (He still is - 6'4" at age 14). He was taller than his 2nd grade teacher by the end of that year. But I didn't want him to be too freakishly tall among kids in his grade - so he started Kindergarten with all the other 5 yr olds and it's been a tough journey for him. He had some learning delays in language skills (reading, speech, etc) although he excells at math - so he was pulled out for special ed, etc. I don't think he would have needed as much intervention had he started a year later. (he's doing really well now)

While teachers know alot about the kids in their classes, moms know their kids best. I would rather start my kid a year later when he doesn't realize he's older than the kids - and by the time he does he's one of the class leaders and things are easier for him to grasp and understand.

You still have a few months to go before making a decision, and really - you can send him to Kindergarten and make the final decision at the end of K to have him repeat it if needed. I think you will know best - trust your instincts.

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answers from Sacramento on

I think it depends on the kid and I think that it is less about academics and more about social behavior, impulse control, maturity etc... If they have the maturity, the academic will come.

My son is an late August birthday as well. He turned 5 the day before he started kinder. In some ways I very much regret starting him, but it's difficult because he is also a big kid and as I looked back on it he wouldn't have fit in if I had held him back either. He's very smart, but gets distracted easily and is very social, so it's more fun to make his classmates laugh than to persist classwork that he finds difficult or intimidating.

Another issue is that many of the kids are a full year older and my son. It's a big gap in the world of young boys. Teachers look at him and don't realize how much younger he is and they expect the same from him as they do the kids that are older. They don't have time to consider which of the kids might be struggling because they just aren't as mature as some of the others. Unless you have an exceptional teacher, class sizes and testing standards keep them from being able to give much individualized attention. His teacher this year told me that because my son has less behavioral problems than some of the others in her class he is slipping through the cracks.

Most kids can handle the academics in kinder, but it gets more difficult as they get older and the work becomes more and harder. I think that it's good to take the preschool's opinions into consideration, but ultimately you know your child best. If you feel he's not ready, find a more academically based preschool (rather than a play based one) and keep him out another year.

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answers from Washington DC on

i'm DYING that this is referred to as redshirting!
my geek life is good.
my older boy started kindergarten when he was still 4. he was fine academically, a little behind socially for a bit, but really had no issues with it at all. i don't think we'd have regretted redshirting him ::::::::giggling:::::::::
but we certainly don't think that sending him in young was a poor decision either.
you know your kid best.
:) khairete

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answers from Phoenix on

My older son's birthday is in November, and our cut-off in AZ is September 1. I was very concerned about waiting until he was 5-turning 6 in 2 months entering K. I am so glad I did not push for earlier entry into K! Even though he is at the advanced end academically, he still has had a few bumps with social skills- things like not playing with his friends when he should be paying attention to the teacher, standing quietly in line and not engaging in a pencil sword battle with his neighbor, typical K behaviors! He has made so much progress this year, but I know it would have been such a struggle if we had started last year. My younger one has a late SEptember birthday, and I am thrilled that he will also be one of the older K students. This is a total 180 for me, but I absolutely see the value in waiting now. I would redshirt without hesitation!

ETA: I would also talk to his potential K school about their expectations. I am surprised at some of the descriptions here. In my son's K class, they are divided into ability groups. So yes, you could have a student go in without knowing sight words, etc, but they would be in the lowest ability group and would have to do a lot of catch-up. I would be concerned with my kid getting pigeon holed as having less academic ability. But I am a huge nerd and academic achievement is very important to me, so I admit a bias. To be in the middle or high groups in K, they are expected to be able to read basic words, sound out longer words, write sentences without spelling and properly spell sight words, etc. One letter a week and the sound it makes was in preK.

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answers from Springfield on

Our son has a July birthday (Sept 1 cutoff), and we decided to let him start kindergarten at age 6.

He started preschool at age 3 (on track to begin kindergarten at 5). He was the smallest, but that wasn't really our concern. At first everything seemed fine. He was doing great academically, got along with the other kids and really liked preschool. But over time we could see that the other kids were maturing in ways that he was not. By the end of the two years it was just very clear to us that he needed more time to be a kid. He just needed another year.

He is one of the oldest in his class, but he is not the only one and he is not the oldest. There are several boys in his class with summer birthdays (6 when they started kindergarten). There are even a couple of girls and a couple of kids with February and March birthdays.

Our son is in first grade, and doing well. He still struggles a bit with maturity - he's not on green everyday and whines a bit more than I think is normal for a first grader - but I can't imagine the struggles he would have had if he had started kindergarten when he was 5.

Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about the academics. Kindergarteners come from all different backgrounds, and many do not know the who alphabet, much less sight words. And even if he is a bit behind on sight words or counting or colors, you can work with him on that. But the only thing you can do to help him if he is less mature than the other kids is give him more time.

I definitely do not regret letting our son have that extra year before beginning kindergarten.

ETA - One of our son's preschool friends also goes to grade school, so there have been a couple of times he mentioned that he is "supposed" to be in 2nd grade. But right now he thinks it's really cool that he's one of the oldest. I don't think kids get teased for being one of the oldest. If anything, I think they are envied - first to turn 10, first to drive, first to be 18 ...

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answers from St. Louis on

Follow your instincts,mom, you know your kid better.
Redshirting has become very controversial for some parents; however, I think it is just a matter of common sense and how well you know your kid.
Kids mature at different pace, and they are ready at different time for Kindergarten as they are ready for potty training or something else. Moms have different experience with "redshirting" and their kids. I would suggest you that you follow your lead, there is no rush, especially now days in which kindergarteners are expected to have much more work than in the past, which is not bad at all, but the kindergarteners today need to be more mature now days.
Have fun with your kid, teaching him by playing, read to him A LOT, and little by little introduce some schedule, Self-help skills (it is NOT just about academics), and all the typical things he will need to learn/master/get used to when he attends school and go out without mommy.
Don't worry, be happy!
A. :)

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answers from Lancaster on

My now 14 year old DD has a Sept birthday. She started preschool 2 morning a week when she just turned three and 3 mornings a week when she was four. She wasn't quite 5 when she started K but I've never regretted my decision. She was very verbal and mature and she was ready. She is a little younger than a good portion of other Freshmen in her HS but her maturity works in her favor. She's doing well in all of her classes including some honors classes.

She has a male cousin who was born just a few weeks after her. His mother decided to start him in K the year he turned 6. He's never been very verbal and he isn't overly mature. For him, it was the right decision to hold him back for that year. I think you just have to go with your gut. I think if I thought my daughter would struggle, I would have held her back a year before starting K. Good luck.

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answers from Rochester on

My daughter has a late July birthday. We started her in kindergarten at 5 and she did great. If we had not started her she would have been extremely bored in preschool. Our son has a late August birthday and we are planning to send him to kindergarten in September. He doesn't know "everything" yet, but he is ready both academically and socially. I have a friend whose daughter's birthday is just a week earlier than my daughter's. They waited a year to start her in kindergarten because she didn't seem socially ready and are very glad that they did.

As a reading teacher who works with struggling readers in 1st and 2nd grade, I think maturity and the ability to focus are a big part of kindergarten readiness. Most of the struggling readers that I work with are kids who are immature compared to their peers (baby talk, not understanding personal space, don't know how to interact appropriately with others). They also are kids who can't sit still and concentrate on anything (excluding electronics) for more than a couple of minutes. Most of the time, they are kids who were not involved in pre-school programs at anytime and did not have parents who read to them or engaged much with them due to life circumstances (homeless, mental illness, physical illness, working 2-3 jobs to survive).

I supervise someone who works a lot with kindergarten kids and reading skills. Most of the kids that she works with exit the program within a month or two and are meeting the expectations of the classroom. Some of those kids do not know all of their letters when she starts working with them. But they pick it up pretty quickly with the one-on-one that she gives them.

In our district, the expectations for kindergarten readiness are that they are independent in the bathroom, can sit still long enough to listen to a story (5-10 minutes), can follow directions, can sit in a circle, can walk in a line, can put coats and shoes on independently, and recognize their names. That's about it.

It all comes down to what you think about your child. And, I would take into consideration what his preschool teacher thinks. Preschool teachers usually know what kindergarteners need to be able to do and they are pretty good judges of who will succeed and who won't.

By the way, "red-shirting" does not always equal academic success. We had family friends when I was younger who red-shirted their son so that he would be more successful playing football. They wanted him to be bigger than everyone else his age. He struggled a lot in school despite being six when he started kindergarten. But, he was a very good football player.

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answers from Philadelphia on

The cut off date is Sept. 1 in our district so if your son was born just 4 weeks at most later he would have virtually no choice but to do another year of preschool. Although he could be a year older than some classmates there will be plenty of kids that have birthdays in the September/October time frame.

My daughter has an April birthday and is one of the youngest in her class. Since no one seemed to want their child to be the youngest, a lot of parents held their kids back if they had summer birthdays. I can also say my daughter does not like being the youngest. (She is 15yo) Pretty much all of her friends have driving permits or their licence.

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answers from Reading on

Our son has a July birthday and we waited because he was socially immature. His preschool teachers and his father and I all felt it was for the best. He did a semi academic pre K program with a lot of other kids with summer birthdays and started K when he was six. I am extremely glad we waited, not only because he was very immature at the time but because he will continue to be more mature than many of his peers through the more challenging teen years.

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answers from Kansas City on

My oldest (now in 3rd grade) has a late July birthday (Sept. 1 cut-off for kinder). Academically, he was ready. However, he is small and young, so I thought about it a great deal. I decided to put him in kindergarten and let him repeat if necessary (his dad was also deployed during his kinder year and I thought that might affect him). I was very open with his kindergarten teacher about holding him back if necessary. We never held him back.

We moved to a different state this summer (military) and the cut-off here is either Oct. 1 or Oct. 31, so he's not the youngest in his class. He is still the smallest (but, holding him back wouldn't make him grow more). He earns straight As on report cards and is not struggling academically.

Socially, he is shy/introverted. But, holding him back would not have changed that either--he has his dad's personality.

Go with your gut. If you're really not sure, let him go to kinder and repeat if necessary. I think he would benefit more from 2 years of kinder than 2 years of Pre-K 4.

P.S. My husband never wanted to entertain the thought of holding him back. My husband has a late August birthday and started kinder at 4. He graduated from high school at 17 and West Point at 21. He feels you just go with the cut-off. Some kids will make it by a mile and some kids will make it by an inch.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would wait until the May evaluation before worrying about this.

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answers from Houston on

My son has his birthday in September. We started him in K. He was one of the youngest kids there. The cut off for school was October 1. I was concerned but thought we would try it. Also, K was 1/2 day. I have always felt if K had been all day, he would have had more success. However, we decided to have him repeat K the next year, which was all day! Grr!!!

We haven't regretted our decision. The boy is now 21 and a Junior in college.



answers from Denver on

My daughter is the youngest in her class. She tested into early K and started at the age of 4. She's now in 6th, just turned 11 at the end of Oct. Most of her friends are 11, turning 12. In her case, she was socially ready, academically ready, physically ready (one of the tallest in her class), and emotionally ready. She never really struggled in elementary school (except for math a bit) and is thriving in Middle School. For her, starting her early was the best decision. I also started a year early and was fine for my entire schooling life. I graduated HS at 16 and college at 20, so I knew what my daughter would go through. Having her be the youngest in her class has never been an issue.

Had she been a boy, I probably would have approached things differently. I don't know if I'd like my son to be the youngest in the class (boys just mature later than girls, emotionally and physically). It's not an issue I've ever had to deal with, honestly. Many of my friends have redshirted their sons. They just weren't mature enough to start K at 5, but now as High Schoolers are doing really well in the one grade lower. You will need to figure out what will be best for your son and make the best decision for him. There are pros and cons either way. If you don't have to decide right now, give it a few more months and decide then.



answers from Dallas on

My husband (7/25 bday) still gives his mother a hard time for not red-shirting him - and he's 43! IMO - it comes down to emotional/social maturity. If he's on par with the other kids socially he'll probably be fine. If not, hold him back.

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