Before becoming a mom I only knew the term “redshirting” as it pertained to college athletics; however, that all changed after our August baby was born. Once our son turned two we started to casually talk about preschool—where he would go, what that would look like and when he would start. That’s when we hit a snag… When would he start? A simple enough question, with no firm answer. His August birthday meant that he could enter kindergarten as either the youngest or the oldest in his class.
We all want to set our children up for success from the very beginning. As parents, we want to give them every advantage possible. It is no secret that school today is more demanding than it has ever been. I have often heard kindergarten referred to as the new first grade—and frankly, that is not alright in my book. I lean heavily towards the “let them be children as long as possible” school of thought—so my husband and I early-on, decided that our son would “redshirt” and that he would start kindergarten as the oldest in the class, instead of the youngest.
We made the decision and felt good about it. However, as his school year winds down and his classmates, except one, are leaving the school and heading to kindergarten, I have been experiencing two emotions that I didn’t realize I would.
The guilt, oh the guilt. While academically our son is excelling, his social skills are on par with his age. Much like me, it takes him time to warm up to “strangers.” He needs to get to know you and trust you before he will open up; and this means that it took months for him to warm up to his classmates. However, once he did warm up, he made leaps and strides socially. He has a best friend that he does everything with and talks about non-stop. It makes me so happy to see his smile and hear about their adventures at school. When I pick him up from school he is excited, even giddy, to tell me all about what they did that day. The downside here is that his best friend is moving on to kindergarten next year.
I feel terribly guilty about the fact that he is going to lose his best friend in class. Of course we will get them together outside of school and foster the relationship that way, but is it enough? I am worried that the loss is going to set him back socially.
I am a worry wart and I know that motherhood has only exacerbated this. So naturally, I am worried that we made the wrong decision. His teachers and the educators in our family circle early-on in the school year mentioned that we need to keep our minds open to him entering kindergarten as the youngest. He has checked all the line items on some “Enter Kindergarten” list, but we are still not pushing him into the next grade. Is he going to be bored? Is this going to spell trouble for him in later grades?
For now I am trying to keep the worrying at bay and focus on the present.
Right now he is happy.
Right now he loves school.
Right now he is excited to learn.
Right now everything is perfect.
Redshirting kindergarten is a debatable subject and there are arguments on both sides. Each child is unique and everyone’s circumstances are different. For our son, we know that an extra year of play-based education and the chance to be a carefree child is exactly what he needs.