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This is Why My Son Will Be Redshirting Kindergarten

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.

redshirting kindergarten

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.

Guilt.

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.

Worry.

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.

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10 Responses to This is Why My Son Will Be Redshirting Kindergarten

  1. Suzi June 29, 2018 at 10:55 am #

    This is certainly a tough decision. I am a school administrator and have seen children come through that aren’t ready and ones that come through that are beyond ready. The ones that aren’t ready almost always find their stride, and something important to keep in mind is that readiness is really not based on their age. I’ve had five-year-olds turning six at the beginning of the school year who are less ready then four-year-olds turning five at the beginning of the school year. It all depends on the unique child in their situation. Former kindergarteners I’ve encountered (the number is in the thousands) that were beyond ready often have family or teachers recommend for them to be moved to the next grade level. I think this is primarily because it’s so difficult for teachers, even the really good ones, to understand how to truly differentiae instruction (which can lead to stifled academic advances, behavioral issues, and/or a dislike for school due to boredom). I think you’ve actually made a really brave choice that others may wish they had made but didn’t due to outside pressures. It’s a family choice- a choice I will be left with in a few short years with my own August born son!

    • Lauren
      Lauren July 2, 2018 at 11:22 am #

      Thank you for your kind words, Suzi!

  2. Heather June 30, 2018 at 6:23 am #

    Thank you for writing this article! I am a Kindergarten teacher at a accelerated charter school. I have seen 4, 5, and 6 year olds walk into my classroom every year. This year, I was faced with the same decision as you, as my twins birthday is September 5th. They could’ve tested early and gotten in with many of their friends, but I decided to wait until next year. It was a tough decision because they could’ve done fine in Kindergarten this year. I looked at all of the factors (social, emotional, academic, etc.) and decided that it was not their time yet. I want them to grow and get more comfortable in a school setting without the pressure. Currently, they attend Primrose where they have a great curriculum, but it is play-based. I have talked to them many times about their friends leaving, but I also remind them that they will make new friends and will go when it is their time. 🙂 Sure, it would be much cheaper to send them off to Kindergarten for us, but it’s not their time yet.

    It is a tough decision for anyone, but you made the right decision for your child and his future. Thank you for sharing your experience with others, and letting them know that they don’t have to feel guilty.
    So thank you!

    • Lauren
      Lauren July 2, 2018 at 11:23 am #

      I completely agree about letting them grow without all of the added pressure. I am so happy that you enjoyed my post! Have a great day 🙂

  3. Jill July 10, 2018 at 9:46 am #

    We faced the same dilemma with our 3rd child. We went from 2 October babies to an August baby. I struggled with the decision and decided she would start AK and be one of the oldest in her class. Emotionally, I felt she wasn’t ready. I was a September baby who started at 4. I had an extremely hard time leaving home at 17 to start college 3 hrs away. I was a homebody and emotionally wasn’t ready. Maybe my 3rd would have been fine, but I don’t want to have her feel the way I did. She’s entering 5th grade this fall and I have no regrets.

    • Lauren
      Lauren August 31, 2018 at 6:03 pm #

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Jill! So far our son seems to be loving Pre-K (Round 2).

  4. Carol July 17, 2018 at 4:25 pm #

    It has been a long time since we faced making this decision for my son whose birthday is at the end of August. I experienced a lot of pressure to hold him back one year, but I believed him to be ready for kindergarten. I sometimes second guessed if he would have benefited from another year at home. Could he have been the valedictorian rather than just in the National Honor Society? Would he have applied himself more, rather than taking such a laissez-faire attitude to his studies, or would he have been bored and paid less attention? I will never really know. I do know that he has turned out to be a well rounded individual He has achieved the highest degree in our family, is socially active and is a loving husband and father. Thank goodness, since I am sure I would still feel guilty about my decision if all of that were not the case. Best of luck to all of those making this difficult decision today.

    • Lauren
      Lauren August 31, 2018 at 6:09 pm #

      Sounds like you made the right choice and raised a wonderful son, husband and father! I hope to one day be able to say these things about my two grown boys. 🙂

      For now though, they are wonderfully rambunctious and adventure loving children and I am relishing in this stage of parenting.

  5. Kirsten July 18, 2018 at 1:36 pm #

    From personal experience, I couldn’t agree more with your decision Lauren! I have a May birthday and when I finished preschool I tested into kindergarten easily. However, once I was in kindergarten I had issues paying attention in class-I wanted to keep playing at recess or painting during class when we needed to move on to the next activity. Ultimately at the end of that year my teacher and my parents decided it was best to hold me back in kindergarten.

    There were a few instances that next year when old classmates made silly jokes about me repeating kindergarten but even through that I am forever grateful my parents and my teacher made that decision. I excelled every year after that and never felt out of place. I always felt extremely prepared emotionally for each year and have succeeded in life and career because of that extra year. I wish I could have stayed in preschool one extra year as the stigma might not have been so heavily attached to my parents’ decision but regardless it was the right move. As a new mom of a June baby I’m leaning towards keeping him in preschool one more year. Life is already such a rat race, every child should be given the opportunity to fully enjoy being a small kiddo before hitting the big world of elementary school. Each person who was given an extra year that I’ve met in life has been well-adjusted. Kudos to you for making the hard decision, I think one day your child will be writing a similar post about it 🙂

    • Lauren
      Lauren August 31, 2018 at 6:06 pm #

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Kristin! So far our son is loving Pre-K (Round 2) and I am confident that we made the right decision for him. I completely agree that kids should get as much time as possible to enjoy their childhood and learn through play.

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