The school year recently started here in St. Louis and I mentioned a few times on Instagram that we decided NOT to send Cooper to kindergarten this year, despite the fact that he *technically* could have started based on his birthday. We’re redshirting in kindergarten… and I want to explain why because a lot of you are debating doing the same!
As a v. important note before we get started – I am not an educator, child development specialist, counselor, social worker or pediatrician. I’m just a regular mom trying to do what’s best for her fam :).
What is redshirting?
The term for ‘holding kids back’ – which I’m using to describe not starting him in kindergarten versus describing having him repeat a grade – is redshirting. Redshirting in kindergarten means delaying the start of a child’s academic career to give them more time to mature. It’s a pretty hot debate and I’ve discussed the pros and cons with many of my mom friends.
Here in Missouri, the cutoff for school is August 1st. My son’s birthday is within a week of the cutoff and would make him one of the absolute youngest kids in his grade if he were to start when he was eligible to start.
But, honestly, there was never any doubt in our minds about NOT starting him in school as a just-turned-5-year-old. We’ve pretty much known from the day of his birth that we would hold on him starting school to make him ‘older’ for his grade.
Why would you redshirt for kindergarten?
One of the books that Chris and I read, pre-kids, was Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. One of the theories he presented in that book is “in competitive situations, a person who’s relatively older than the others will probably be the one who wins.”
His evidence in the book for that theory outlines Canadian hockey players and how the cutoff there is January 1 and presents a stat that of the Canadian hockey players that reach pro-level hockey, a much higher percentage of them are born in the first quarter of the year. Basically, being older gives a physical advantage.
It made sense to us, so we tried to time our first pregnancy so that our child would be among the oldest in its class. Type-A much?! It worked and Quinn – our oldest daughter – was born in September, making her nearly 6 when starting school in late August and among the older kids in her grade.
Then Cooper was born in July… timing was a little off ;). And we’ve known pretty much from day one that we’d hold him for a ‘victory lap’ of preschool, to give him more time to mature emotionally and socially.
Why We Decided to Redshirt in Kindergarten
Of course, every child and situation is different, but here are the factors we considered – not in order of importance – when deciding to give Coop another year of preschool:
Honestly, Cooper is a very typical boy (not to stereotype or generalize) – he’s less emotionally intelligent than some girls his age or older boys. An extra year of developing some emotional regulation will 100% help him to better succeed in a classroom.
Another honest answer here… if I felt like Cooper would be bored by starting kindergarten as a just-turned-6-year-old, I would’ve started him at 5. But I don’t think he’s so far advanced, academically, that he won’t be properly engaged at school.
Does Coop have lots of friends? Yes. Can he improve the way he interacts with friends, practice more patience, and work on how he expresses frustration? Hell yes. So that’s what he’ll do in his last year of preschool.
Coop – like all of our kids – is on the small end of the charts physically, so we figured it wouldn’t hurt to give him an extra year of physical growth.
Other Resources If You’re Considering Redshirting
I’ve had a couple of people ask how I knew it was the right decision, and, truthfully, we never struggled with it and had the full support of his teachers, pediatrician, and Chris and I were on the same page about it.
SOOO that’s why Cooper is doing his victory lap in preschool! I’m confident in our decision but totally understand that it can be a hard choice based on birthdays or behavior or boy vs girl.
Sending them on-time or not, we’re all just doing the best we can do!