Kindergarten Conundrum

At any given school, on the first day of kindergarten you’re likely to find a bunch of nervous five-year- olds gathered in a colorful classroom. There’s a good chance there will also be several six-year-olds among them. A majority of states designate age five as the appropriate time for kids to start kindergarten, but in recent years, what was once a strict enrollment cutoff has become little more than a fuzzy suggestion.

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In a noticeable trend, many parents are opting to redshirt their kindergarten-age children. A concern in education circles for over a decade, redshirting means that an age-eligible child is withheld from entering kindergarten for at least a year. While a family’s decision to redshirt a child is usually made to allow the child extra time for social, intellectual or physical development, evidence shows that kids who start school late gain no real benefit in the long-run.

As most teachers can tell you, a kindergarten classroom is the perfect environment for kids to develop the skills that parents may worry are lacking. Children who seem overly shy or slightly behind developmentally benefit greatly by interacting with same-age peers as early as possible. And while redshirted kids usually thrive throughout elementary school, by the time they reach high school they are often less motivated and perform at a lower level than their younger classmates.

When it comes right down to it, entering kindergarten on schedule is almost always the best option from a child development standpoint. Based on the kindergarten recommendations in most states, schools already know this. Teachers, is redshirting a common practice in your district? If you’ve observed results of redshirting (positive or negative), please share your experiences in the comments below.