The Pros and Cons of Redshirting

Academic redshirting is a term that is thrown around a lot, but is probably something many parents do not completely understand. Redshirting, or holding your child back from starting school for an extra year, is something that many parents do for different reasons. When they don’t entirely understand the reasoning, many parents frown upon redshirting and wonder why any parent would want to delay their child’s education. Here is a closer look at some of the most common reasons behind redshirting and the possible pros and cons of holding your child back.

Why Redshirt?

Contrary to what many might think, there are actually very valid reasons for redshirting your child. Every child develops at different rates; we do not expect each child to walk at exactly the same time, so why would be expect them all to be ready for school at the same time? The majority of children who are held back are boys. Studies have proven time and again that boys mature at a slower rate than girls do and are more likely to not be quite ready for the classroom. Boys with birthdays in the late summer or early fall who are right on the cusp of the deadline, are usually held back, while girls cutting it close are generally enrolled.

Girls are often redshirted too; just not as often. Parents know their children better than the National Center for Education, and just because their age suggests they should be ready for school does not necessarily mean that they are. Parents can choose to redshirt if they feel their child is not developmentally ready, if they feel that they have not matured quite enough, or for any other reason. It is not mandatory for children to start school at age 5, and so the final decision is left up to parents.

The Pros

Enrolling a child in school before he is ready is like throwing him in a swimming pool and expecting him to swim; the chances of success are slim. A child who is not completely ready for school runs the risk of having serious problems, both socially and academically. Children who are redshirted tend to achieve math and reading scores that are either equivalent or higher than their fellow peers. The difference of one year helps them dramatically in comprehension. Having good test scores also helps their self-esteem and starts them off on the right track for confidence and success.

If a child goes through a year of Kindergarten and is unable to meet requirements, he will be held back another year. No matter how you look at it, it seems clear that redshirting your child is a much better choice than having him held back. Repeating the year will only make your child feel inadequate and is license for other children to tease him. For most children, confidence is not exactly bubbling over during their second year of Kindergarten.

Redshirting gives your child a little bit of extra time to build social skills. A confident child is a happy child; so is a child with lots of friends. Social skills are just as important as academic skills when it comes to your child’s success in school. The extra time (if he needs it) will do wonders for his self-esteem, social confidence, and circle of friends. Being put into school before they are prepared can often cause a child to act out with inappropriate behavior as a way of displaying their discomfort. Children who are redshirted are less likely to be singled out as the “problem child” and will need less disciplinary action throughout their school years.

The Cons

Like all things, redshirting is not all good and it is not always for the best. Along with the excellent benefits, there are also a few downsides to deciding to redshirt your child.

Parents who redshirt believe that they are doing out of the best interest of their child. They believe that their child is either not socially or academically ready, and this could very well be the case. For some children however, their apparent lack of readiness is actually the effect of an underlying disorder. By enrolling your child in school, the disorder will not only be recognized, but your child can receive the special education tools and help that he needs to get him back on track. If your child does have a learning disorder, redshirting him would mean setting him back an additional year since he would be missing out on much needed educational help.

Redshirting could also have negative social effects on your child. While in most cases it is not an issue, your child could potentially have issues making friends with peers who are younger than him. Sometimes the issue does not arise until later years when your child is a year older and able to do things before his friends.

Before making a concrete decision about whether to redshirt or not, it’s important to weigh out all of the different factors.

• Ask yourself why you would want to hold your child back? What is it that makes you feel like he isn’t ready?

• Was your child enrolled in preschool? If so, how did he do there?

• What kind of Kindergarten program are you thinking of enrolling your child in? Will he be able to meet the expectations?

• If you do redshirt, how will you use that year to prepare your child?

Redshirting is a big decision and not one that should be taken lightly. It may even be beneficial to have your child go through a Kindergarten screening just to see where he is in comparison to other children his age. Every aspect should be carefully considered before making a decision.

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