Redshirting Kindergarteners…and College Grads

Readers zhreakhhyr
— This mom notices a continuum I’d missed! – L. 

Dear Free Range Kids: Lately I have noticed 2 trends that I believe relate to helicoptering.

My son will be 5 in late July.  The cutoff in our state for Kindergarten is “age 5 prior to August 1.”  My son has been screened by our local public school and deemed intellectually and developmentally ready to start school.  It never occurred to me to deviate.  However, nearly every parent, and more than a couple of educators, that know when his birthday falls related to the cutoff, seemed surprised that I would be sending him “so soon.”  Apparently “Redshirting Kindergarten” is a trend I missed.  It seems to be part of the competitive parent movement, that I am not giving him every possible advantage, by “holding him back a year, especially since he’s a boy.”

I sometimes feel insulted for him when I hear that phrase!  Regardless of how I may feel about Kindergarten becoming more like boot camp, with less time for exploring and play, he fits all the qualifications for attending, and he’s going to have to go at some point.  If I, or the professionals who screen preschoolers, believed there was a problem other than when his birthday falls, I would give this more consideration.  However, someone has to be the youngest in his class. He’s the oldest at home, so I think it will be good for him!

Helicoperter Parenting the College Grad

The second trend I’ve noticed hits at the other end of “childhood.” I own a few rental properties. Over the last couple years, I’ve had many instances of parents calling about properties for their college graduate children.  I don’t mean in a helpful “let’s get through these property ads” kind if way.  I often have to nearly beg for the privilege of talking with and meeting the proposed occupant before offering them a lease.

The parents make the initial call, receive, fill out and return the application, view the property, review the lease, inquire repeatedly about the safety of the neighborhood, and assure me of how perfect their offspring will be as a tenant.  I routinely email applications and leases, so it isn’t even an issue of the new tenant not yet being in the area.  Many times, the “child” comes with the parents to see the property, tagging along behind like my children did when we were looking at a new preschool.  It has gotten to the point that I usually ask a parent to co-sign the lease in these situations.  I realize I’m enabling this behavior by doing so, but I’ve learned the hard way that these tenants are more likely to skip out on their lease and move back home.  At least this way, the parent has some skin in the game.

I can’t help but wonder if “Redshirting Kindergarten” is part of a bigger trend of “Redshirting Life.”

Keep up the good work! — Beverly Peters

Redshirting: To postpone entrance into a program by age-eligible students.

Redshirting: To postpone entrance into a program by age-eligible children.

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220 Responses to Redshirting Kindergarteners…and College Grads

  1. stacey June 10, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    “especially for boys” because that way they will be older/bigger/better developed for sports….

  2. becky June 10, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    I respectfully disagree that “redshirting” (a term I HATE) is about helicoptering. I had a child that made the K cutoff by 5 days. Our district also has a “young 5’s” program, so my child could have been 4 until Thanksgiving in the same class with children who turned 6 over the summer. To me, that was too much of an age difference for young bodies and brains to be held to the same standards, so we chose to let him have another year to be a kid, unstructured and free. It was largely due to our free range parenting that we realized that asking him to sit “criss cross applesauce” for a full day program was not in his best interests.

  3. E June 10, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    Redshirting kindergarten is not new…my kids (who have graduated from HS) attended school with several kids that did this. Some with birthdates WELL before the K cutoffs. I think 60 minutes (or 20/20 or one of those shows) covered this angle on a show many years ago. People do it for academic and athletic advantages. Both my spouse and I went to K at 4, not turning 5 until Oct and Nov.

    On the latter front…I think that may just be because these days it’s difficult for most college kids (and I suppose grads) to enter into a lease because they don’t have credit and they might be getting $$ assistance. When parents are getting involved financially, perhaps it’s logical to know what they are paying for?

    We have an ongoing situation right now with a rental home for my college son. He and his friends did all the legwork and signed the lease (as parents, we signed a “guarantee” that if he didn’t pay the rent, we would). We didn’t see/visit/call the home/owner. We are finding out now, that the home is not zoned for the number of occupants they plan to have. There is also an issue with a converted garage (that was to house one of the boys) not being able to get occupancy approved. I was on the phone yesterday talking with the city govt to try and figure out what’s going on. At this point, only 3 of the 5 occupants would be legal. It’s a mess.

    In this case, it may have helped for a parent to be involved earlier in the process. It’s still a learning experience for the kids, but it’s become a pain.

  4. Jane June 10, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    My son’s birthday is right at the age cutoff also and we debated whether or not he should head off to K or wait a year. For a few reasons we decided to wait the year but I hated the thought of people thinking we were redshirting him just for the sake of it! Sigh.

  5. trish June 10, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    Our local cut off is 9/30. My son’s birthday is within a week of that. We are waiting another year.

    When I was in kindergarten, it was a half-day, mostly play affair. Today, it is a all-day affair that involves NCLB testing, the Common Core and daily homework that may take 20 mintues or more. Waiting another year is a decision we’ve made after talking with our preschool teacher, and it has nothing to do with athletics and everything to do with giving him another year to free range.

  6. Teri June 10, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    Completely off topic, and I see nothing wrong with either letting a 4-year-eleven-and-a-half-month old start kindergarten or waiting another year depending on the child’s developmental progress, but when I see “redshirting” I think of something completely different than postponing kids’ entrance to kindergarten.

    As a slightly nerdy Star Trek fan, “redshirt” to me means the nameless crew-member who follows Captain Kirk and his officers on missions to planets’ surfaces, and who is invariably killed by whatever’s down there this week.

  7. Angela June 10, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    I have to respectfully disagree that “redshirting” is helecoptering as well. As a teacher I have seen how the testing culture has turned kindergarten from an opportunity to learn social skills and explore to a military style classroom with all children being forced to read and write. Studies are continually showing that kids who are young for the grade are more likely to be “diagnosed” with ADHD and evaluated for special services. Also, here in CA they were letting 4.5 year olds into kindergarten for a long time,which is way too young in my opinion. My child is one of the oldest for his grade so I didn’t need to redshirt him, but I know many parents who would have had young kindergarteners and decided to redshirt and none of them have regretted it.

  8. ESKL June 10, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    Actually, I support redshirting young children at the parent’s discretion, and here’s why: kindergarten is now the new first grade. Boys AND girls often benefit from the gift of a year to become ready for the new Kindergarten-on-Steroids that’s being shoved down their throats. My daughter has a September birthday and, based on all the “readiness measures” the school used, was deemed ready for Kindergarten. She’s 10 now, but I still count starting her in K when I did as the single biggest parenting mistake I ever made. She wasn’t emotionally ready for the academic pressure and K was a soul-crushing experience for her. She went from being a happy, confident kid who was eager to learn to read and do math, to a kid who told me more than once that she was “bad” 🙁 and that she HATED reading and math. I think having another year of maturity under her belt would have helped her manage K better. We homeschool now, so all that’s water under the bridge. But my heart still breaks when I think of my then five-year-old begging not to go to school and sadly telling me that she’s a “bad girl” and “I always mess up.”

  9. Ann C. June 10, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    The redshirting is driving me nuts. My children’s birthday falls in June, which would make them on the youngest end of their class anyway, but SEVERAL children in their second-grade class are TWO full years older than they are at the start of the school year, which means, at some point before my kids’ birthday, they turn three digits older than mine. Some have been held back twice — by the parents. They want their kid to be at the top of the class, they want their kid to be a “leader”, they want their kid to excel. 20% of their class is redshirted. What this means for my kids? They wouldn’t be at the top of their class to begin with. They’re strong students, but not prodigies. They’re pretty much holding up the middle of the bell curve. In reading, they’re reading above grade level, but not several grade levels. They both started 2nd grade in the enrichment reading group because, with the older, redshirted kids in their grade, the bell curve has been skewed and now they fall into the lower third of the reading classes, which automatically places them into the enrichment class. Not that I’m eschewing extra help, because it has had its benefits. One of the boys progressed out of that reading group this year and is even a stronger reader because of the extra attention. What I have a problem with is that when you compare age-appropriate students in a grade with students who have been redshirted, the expectations change because, suddenly, they seem to be behind or lacking when compared to their peers. Their peers who should really be in fourth grade. Sometimes even I forget that some of the kids are so much older and start comparing them and worrying. Are we really saying that we need to BURY the playing field now? That leveling it isn’t enough anymore? Some kids truly might need an extra year maturity wise, developmentally wise, and I support that. But every kid in my kids’ classes who has been redshirted does not fall into this subset (of note, we are in a private school which does not accept children with IEPs or those in need of special education).

  10. Nancy Malecha June 10, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    I always saw this as a case by case situation. I know some kids with late summer birthdays (our cutoff is September 1) who went right in with no anxiety on anyone’s part, and some who waited to the benefit of the student and classroom. My middle son has a late October birthday and I probably could have gotten an exception for him based on his educational readiness, but emotionally, he was NOT ready to be a part of a broader community as a classroom is. He went to a second year of preschool instead, one that would get him into the rhythm of a kindergarten day. I think it is OK as a parent to make that kind of call without being labeled as anything other than the parent. My father, by the way, criticized me harshly about this decision (mine and my husband’s to make). He felt that we held our son back. That son has finished third grade, is still one of the top students of his class and is doing just fine. He was not stunted. He is flourishing. I realize this us slightly different than the situations the article describes, but I feel, in the kindergarten case at any rate, that there can be legitimate reasons to hold a child out a year. As for the young adults incapable of negotiating a lease, well, I got nothing for that.

  11. Pam June 10, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    I hadn’t heard the term “Red Shirting Kindergarten” (although I’m familiar with the concept of “red shirting” for sports teams).

    My son’s birthday fell 7 days prior to the cutoff for the province we were living in when he started Kindergarten. But that cut off is 3 months earlier than most of the rest of Canada – Quebec uses Sept 30, most other provinces use Dec 31. The school encouraged us to keep him back because he’d be the youngest in his class. Well, someone has to be the youngest, and the youngest will always be nearly a year younger than the oldest.

    Our problem with keeping him back was that as a military family, we knew we were moving prior to his 6th birthday. So he’d be in a province for grade 1 where he’d easily be within the cutoff, but wouldn’t have had the year of Kindergarten to get ready for grade 1. So then what would we do?

    I said “no thanks,” enrolled him in Kindergarten. He is now finishing grade 8, among the tallest in his class, and entering advanced placement high school courses next year. I can’t imagine him fitting in easily in a grade 7 class, which is where he’d be if we’d kept him back that year.

  12. Jane June 10, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    And also – a quick survey of classmates revealed that, even with an August 31 cutoff, parents were redshirting kids born in May, June, July! Informal checks revealed the same pattern in elementary grades. So my August 31 guy would’ve been the youngest and likely smallest by quite a bit. Hate to say it, but that was a factor in our decision, even as it perpetuated the trend!

  13. Lola June 10, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    Funny (in a brow-raising way, not a ha-ha way). In my country, we’ve got mandatory paid maternity leave for the first four months. School is mandatory from age 6 (for those born from January 1st to December 31), to age 16. No exceptions. Children are not allowed to skip ahead a year, and it’s extremely rare to hold them back a year, even in High School.
    To each his own, I guess. I’d rather have your system, and be allowed to home-school my kids.

  14. stacey June 10, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    To the Nerdy Star Trek folks..
    Yes… Redshirt=expendable=dies on the planet.

  15. Wendy W June 10, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    Intruding on the adult end I can’t comprehend. From the time my kids were big enough to approach the counter alone, I made them make their own requests to trade a happy meal toy for another choice. By 20, they darn well better know how to handle such things themselves!

    On the other end, I did “red-shirt” one of mine. He has an August b-day, speech delays, and signs of an LD relating to memory recall. The school said he was “ready”, but their little 30min test did not begin to address the areas he struggled in. We homeschool, so I could have skipped the test, but wanted to see how he did on it. I have never regretted the decision. Throughout the years, he’s now 14, he’s always fit in very well with the group he’s in. And he still struggles with the written work. We are not a sports-minded family, so that wasn’t even an issue.

    So many boys struggle in a system that caters to the learning style dominated by girls, and kids can be vicious to the poor kid who doesn’t measure up academically. I’d much rather give my kid the chance the be on the successful end of the spectrum than have to make him a “failure” for simply not being ready yet.

  16. TaraK June 10, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    It is a horrible trend! My son has a September birthday with a September 1 cut off…and I petitioned to have him start at 4 and turn 5 a few weeks after school started! He was interviewed and tested by the school and found to be as ready as they could predict! (They go to a private school, so their school is more able to look at the individual student.)

    When I spoke to people about this, I also received the “but he’s a boy” speech. This was nothing but the best decision for our family. He was beyond ready academically, he was completely ready socially and emotionally. When I told one pre-school what we were considering they were appalled that I would consider sending a boy early! They refused to put him in the kindergarten readiness class and insisted he should be with his same age peers. (We did not use that pre-school but chose one which would do what we thought best.) What is wrong with boys that they can’t handle school???

    I also have a second September birthday who I did NOT send early. My motivation was not to get them into school and out of the house. My motivation was to do what each child needed. Second born son was not ready and is thriving as one of the oldest in his class.

    Now my oldest is 13 and one of the top students in his just finished 8th grade class. Physically (which is one of the “but he’ll be smaller later for sports!”) he is 6 feet tall, super coordinated and as a freshman may get varsity playing time with basketball in the fall. He has been BEGGED to go out for other sports by the coaches. He has always fit in socially and never had a moment of emotional trouble.

    As parents we have to be students of our children. We know them best, we know their abilities and strengths, we know their limitations. It is up to US to parent our children. Not society!

  17. Laura June 10, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    On a lighter note… I had to laugh. My kndergartener, who turned 6 at the end of December, is going on an end-of-school field trip (walking to the local park) today and they all have to wear a red shirt to be easily identifiable.

  18. Brooke June 10, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Luckily, I have the option of sending my son to parochial school for kindergarten. It’s half day and there aren’t any insane testing standards (although they do start learning reading and writing).

    If it was a “kindergarten but really first grade” program, I would absolutely consider redshirting. I just don’t think 5 year olds are ready to be chained to a desk for 7 hours.

  19. Jessica June 10, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    I remember looking for a place in college. It is exciting and complex and parental guidance is quite helpful. I believe that if you are old enough to live on your own than you are old enough to do ALL the legwork. Parents that take this valuable learning opportunity from their children are being short-sighted. Not only are they interfering with important life lessons but they are preventing their son/daughter from the feeling of accomplishment and pride that comes from navigating and learning an adult task. Mistakes will likely be made by the college student, but that is how we learn, we cannot rob our children of these important moments in life.

  20. Liz K June 10, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    I am a proud free ranger who “redshirted” both of my kids. We did it not for any sort of competitive advantage either academically or athletically but because, with their teachers, we felt an extra year of growth and development would be beneficial to them. There is a big difference between being academically ready and being mature, and our kids were both very academically ready, and very immature as compared to their same age peers.

    Our district then had a transitional first grade that acted as a bridge between kindergarten and first grade, and in my opinion, was a much more “free-range,” developmentally appropriate classroom for 6 year olds — lots of movement, lots of singing and small motor skills like cutting and glueing, an extra recess daily and an emphasis on social development. My daughter is a classic social late bloomer. Giving her an extra year to get her feet under her and to be with kids who were more her speed has helped her to find a wonderfully supportive group of friends. That very shy, tentative five year old was just voted “most confident” in 6th grade. Our son was a typical wiggly little boy, and I was not going to have his active boy-ness penalized by sitting in a classroom all day.

    With all that said, I was the youngest, littlest kid in my classroom growing up, and I was fine. I made this decision knowing that they would probably be fine no matter what we chose.

    I would say that our decision had less to do with helicoptering, and was more aligned with our “slow family” philosophy, in which we reject the almighty “busy” in favor of peace. Thus we opt out of travel teams and competitive dance and the family rat race in general. We decided a long time ago that our children are not emblems of our success as people or parents, and that we would let them grow at their own pace.

    Of course, you are entitled to your opinion, but there are a lot of non-helicoptering reasons families do a lot of things, including redshirting.

  21. JR June 10, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    I can’t believe people have a hard time making this decision. If your kid is ready, then they’re ready. Don’t worry that they are going to be picked last for dodge ball, or that all their little friends will start school a year later. If they are ready for a structured learning environment, then send them off. New friendships will be forged, the old ones will be kept (my childhood friend and now adult friend was a year behind me in school).

    Life isn’t a race against your pre-selected peers. Holding back your kid a year so they can compete academically is nonsense. A 4 year old can learn to add as easily as a 6 year old can if they, themselves, are ready to learn. If sports competition figures into your decision then… I don’t even know. That’s just disgusting.

    This is coming from a guy that started kindergarten at 4 and was always last to be picked at dodge ball (I don’t think it’s because of the age difference, I’ve just never liked sports). And anyway, the lessons I learned from that FAR FAR FAR outweigh the pain of being the last to be picked. Also, my team of misfits rocked the house when it was my turn to pick teams.

  22. Sheri June 10, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    My son was an August baby who started at 5. A decision I have regretted almost since the day school started. He is not just the youngest in his class (which is much less of a problem today in high school as it was in K and other elementary grades), he was held to the same developmental standards as 6 year old children because schools and school standards have changed. That one decision changed our son from an engaged child who soaked up learning to one who was beaten down by a system that expects 5 year old children to sit work for 5 or 6 hours a day. Having been an August baby myself, I didn’t feel it would be an issue, but I’ve learned the hard way that school is not at all what it was when I was there.

    As for getting a lease, even 25 years ago when my husband and i moved to college, we had to have parent co-signers for a lease because we were….college students, without an income and no credit. And as a parent who will be held responsible financially for any lease, it is only responsible to ensure you have all the information. We also, gasp, had parents who helped get everything squared away, filled our fridges and gave us money and furniture…and yet we managed to become responsible adults.

  23. Nanci June 10, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    I think a lot of the ‘redshirting” issues today have to do with state laws changing. My birthday is Aug. 22, when I started school the cut off was the end of Oct. My son’s birthday is Sept. 11, I still live in the same state, the cut off is now July 31st! He had to wait to start until he was turning 6, I thought this was ridiculous, he will be 18 his entire senior year! I get that the poster’s child just barely made the cut off and she has a “choice” to make, but a lot of us who would have gladly sent our kids at 5 don’t even get to make that decision. When I graduated the graduates were 17 and 18, now they are 18 & 19, just another way we are slowing down the process of growing up. I’m sick of hearing people say that kids grow up way too fast today, they actually grow up much much slower!

    As for the other end of it, the 20 something “kids” still holding mom and dads hand, that to me is far more disturbing. I have every expectation that by 20 my kids will be on their own, sink or swim. Hopefully they will swim, if not it’s on them at that point. I got married at 20, and was fully independent of my parents at that point. We still have a close relationship, but not one of dependance and running to them for help. I’d rather my kids live in a crummy apartment and eat ramen noodles and be independent, than be perfectly comfortable and well provided for in my home and not be able to stand on their own!

  24. Kristi June 10, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    My incoming 4th grader will turn 9 the day of the cutoff. Because of redshirting and our district’s late cutoff, she will be in class with kids that turn 11 (the age of my sixth grader!) during the school year. It also contributed to the delay in her dyslexia diagnosis, because all the teachers and administrators attributed her struggles to “being the baby of the class.”

  25. John June 10, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    Regarding kindergarten, I agree with most of the other comments here. If a kid is ready then send them to kindergarten but if they are not then hold them back. Our daughter is born at the end of July so she will always be one of the youngest in her class. But she was more than ready for kindergarten that holding her back I think would have been worse for her then letting her just be the youngest. And then there is always the option of holding them back in kindergarten for another year if you realize that they are too young/small.

    Regarding college, this post reminded me of some of the comments recently about the new proposal’s by President Obama regarding student loans. The comments were directed not so much at the President but at the president of the student associations who essentially said “we are adults” but then goes on to say that we shouldn’t be burdened by the debts we incured. Well college is when young people are supposed to start learning how to be adults and that means taking on the responsibilities of being an adult. I still will call my dad to ask questions (because he still seems to have an answer to everything) but I ask a question, get the answer, and then use that information to make my own decision. It seems as though kids/young adults these days don’t want to make their own decision and live with the consequences.

  26. Doug D June 10, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    There are lots of reasons to delay kindergarten, many have nothing to do with redshirting. I waited the extra year with both our kids mostly because I am not in a hurry to instititionalize them. I see the trend of “earlier is better” as a way of sucking the fun out of childhood.
    I am not going to be the parent leasing dwellings for my children, I don’t even accompany my 6-year-old in the mall.

  27. lihtox June 10, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    @E: Nothing wrong with parents being involved with the finances and offering advice. But the kids should be taking the lead.

  28. E June 10, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    I’ll add my voice to how K has changed. I have 2 kids, same gender, 3 years apart. My oldest had K teacher that was very experienced, probably in her 50s and K experience was well, Kindergarten. Three years later, my next one goes off to K, has a teacher in her 2nd year of teaching and it’s COMPLETELY different. It was extremely structured, and all together a different. My 2nd kid hated it — I thought he’d hate school, but we honestly think that it was just his abrupt transition.

    I will say, my older son (that had the pleasant K experience) was actually a little behind in his reading when he arrived in 1st grade. It took us some time to get a good feel on his strengths and weaknesses because we had NO indications from his K experience and were caught a little off guard.

    I don’t have a problem with kids who are close to the cutoff waiting, but I certainly know people who did it because of sports. And from the new program that covered it, there are PLENTY out there — and many who admit it.

  29. Trs June 10, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    My parents red shirted my brothers back in the 70’s. If you looked up free range parent in the dictionary. Their pictures would be printed. This has nothing to do with helicopter parenting. Probably the most over protective mom I know did not red shirt her daughter even though her birthday was so close to the cut off mark. Maybe it was because she was much younger that her mom felt the need to hover and still does – now that her daughter is in High School

  30. required name June 10, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    My daughter’s birthday is in September and our district’s cutoff is September 1st. The district evaluated her (not a private school…districts also have the ability to look at the individual child) and the testing showed she was ready to start Kinder a year early, so we sent her when she was still 4. Best decision ever! She is 8 now and yes, she sometimes says she hates reading and has her days when she doesn’t want to go to school, but my 13 year old started Kinder on time and she says the same things. Both girls loved learning as preschoolers, so I guess (shockingly) kids just change as they get older! But my 8 year old usually loves school, she got all A’s in 3rd grade and will confidently announce that she’s the smartest kid in her class. She has a best friend who has an April birthday, so they’re not too far apart in age. She was also one of the taller kids in her class, so I can’t imagine how she would have towered over those 2nd graders if she had waited another year. Now she’s been selected by her teacher to be in a 3-4 combination class because they need their 4th graders to be self motivated and independent. Not only is it a compliment, but now she’ll get to be in a class with kids who are actually younger than her for the first time. We couldn’t be happier with her situation.

  31. Trs June 10, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    I don’t get red shirting for sports. My daughter is a swimmer and she swims in the age group she is that day. All club sports have age cut off dates. That is where the recruiters look . The club teams.

  32. DND June 10, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    There is a difference between holding a child back because they honestly do need the extra year in order to keep up and holding a child back simply because you can. I have a September birthday. I also learned to read before I was two. If my parents had held me back a year simply because I would have been one of the youngest in my class (the cut off for my area at the time was December) I would have dropped out the minute I turned 16. Not because the work was too hard, but because it was far too *easy*. Parents never seem to consider what it will be like for their child to be treated as a free tutor all day, every day for thirteen years. It’s a soul destroying experience for even the most motivated kid.

  33. E June 10, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    @lihtox…I agree with you, however, given the experience we are having right now, there’s no way we won’t be more involved next time (remember, we are helping to pay for living/school). I’ll admit that even the adults are learning about things (that the city has changed their occupancy limits and homeowners had to file for exceptions — this homeowner did not). If we are going to agree to pay the rent, I’m going to be much more involved next time because kids a) have less experience, and b) ignore the risks because they want things badly.

    We assist our kids with transportation (used, old cars). There’s no way I’d let them chose the car on their own, even if they SHOULD evaluate the options in the same manner we would. It’s part of maturation and life experience that teaches you to walk away from situations that aren’t optimal.

    I suspect the kids would never have signed the lease if a parent had been there to evaluate the entire situation.

    Obviously there are situations where parents are too involved in their grown children’s affairs…but if I’m signing something that says I’ll pay several thousand dollars, I’ve got to protect my own interests, bottom line.

  34. Puzzled June 10, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    >What is wrong with boys that they can’t handle school???

    Reverse the clauses here and you’ll have your answer.

    On the rental front – it’s true that most will need a cosign. I’d think, though, that a well-raised and taught 20 year old can be trusted to figure out the apartment part, to the point where the parent could feel comfortable just signing the papers. I know that’s how I’ve handled every apartment until I was making enough (and would have handled a mortgage if I ended up buying a house this year, since my income wasn’t high enough for that and they wouldn’t accept assets as backing unless I committed to liquidating) and it never caused a problem.

  35. pentamom June 10, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    Back in the stone age when I started kindergarten, the cut-off was actually January 31 of the FOLLOWING year, so with an October birthday, I started school at 4. I think I had a class mate who didn’t turn 5 until sometime in January.

    I think my parents always regretted not holding me back, but I don’t think it ever occurred to them at the time that it was an option. When it came down to it, it was suggested that I repeat kindergarten, but they didn’t think that would be a good idea, either, so I was put into a summer program to try to help me “catch up” and moved right along. My problem was that I was a deadly combination of physically small, emotionally immature, and intellectually ahead. In the final analysis, I’m sort of glad I didn’t lose another year of adulthood, but keeping me back might well have made a lot of things better for me during my school years.

    All this to say that it’s not always about “coddling,” or about trying to get a jump on other kids by being bigger or more mature than everyone else; sometimes the younger kids just aren’t yet ready for what’s going to be expected of them at that point. The continually moving cut-off date doesn’t really change this, it just resets the standard. It’s not anti-Free Range or necessarily helicopterish to say, my kid just isn’t ready for this yet, in another year he’ll be better suited to the situation.

  36. Max Lang June 10, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    Helicoptering students is not new or confined to the US. When my youngest son was in his second year at university in the UK he shared a house with 3 other students. On the day he moved in we dropped him off and stayed for a few minutes.

    Other parents were there and were busy cleaning and dusting. We asked our son if he wanted us to stay to help. As we provided him with all the skills he needed for independent living we got the answer we expected – “No way” he said, and referring to the other parents, “this is embarrassing!”

  37. Trs June 10, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    My mom had us during the Vietnam War. They were drafting 17 yo boys that had graduated from HS. Something to consider with boys. Plus she was a teacher and saw how much better Summer birthday kids did if you had them wait a year.

  38. Ajm June 10, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    First, I love and appreciate this site so much. I refer to it often.
    However, I respectfully disagree with the post in part. IF you feel your child is ready, than by all means, they should be where they are emotionally and scholastically age-appropriate. My son started school at 2.5 yrs old. His birthday is in February, so he’d always be one of the oldest of the class or the youngest. In his first year, he was the youngest, and he was noticeably behind the others. So we “redshirted” him. He had the same class again, and THIS year he is right on target- as big as his peers and an equal, socially.

    We had put him in school so young to encourage speech, which he was delayed with. Keeping him back was the best thing for OUR son.

    As an aside, I was always the youngest in my class AND the tallest, and I was forever facing problems from kids and teachers expecting much more of me as a kid because they thought I was older than the rest when I was actually younger. I saw that happening for our son, had we forced him to move to the 4yr old class at 3.5. My mother, a first grade teacher for 23 years, says she often saw kids, (yes, mostly boys) in her class who were not socially ready. She came to believe boys, as a rule, would generally be better starting school a year after girls. Again, this rule does not apply to every child, but our education system is in sad shape and already an uphill battle… I think many kids NEED to be where they are emotionally the most prepared, whether or not their age matches. Perhaps parents are just realizing their kids aren’t as ready as they thought to move ahead, and I suspect those kids and their peers will be better off for it. (Immituraty and insecurity can be very disruptive to the class and the child experiencing it,)

  39. SKL June 10, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    Redshirting is one of my pet peeves, as you have probably noticed.

    I don’t agree that normal kids can’t handle the academics of today’s KG. Maybe they won’t get everything right the first time, but that isn’t the point. You don’t go to KG to prove that you are the most brilliant person on the planet, you go to be exposed to important stuff that is age-appropriate.

    KG is different from what it was in recent decades – because they dumbed it down in recent decades. Historically it has been normal for kids to begin to read and compute in KG (not everywhere – it depended on the location – but my KG (1971-72) required reading, and my immigrant grandmother had to repeat a semester of KG (~1915) because she didn’t pick up on phonetic decoding fast enough.

    Also, in historical KGs that did not teach reading, look at what they did do. Build stuff with actual wood and hammers and nails, collaborate in groups, get themselves to and from school and do everything school related without parental assistance. Shoe tying was expected prior to KG entrance. Bike riding, jumping rope, skating on real sidewalk skates, etc. were expected in kids of that age group. Today they are not. Why?

    Would today’s parents who redshirt dare to send their kids “on time” to the non-academic kindergartens of yesteryear? Or would they be using those dangerous hammers and unreasonable shoe-tying expectations as their excuse?

  40. Trs June 10, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    Max Lang – I live in a very diverse community. I agree with you that people from other countries hover more than Americans. My Syrian neighbors across the street will not let their 8th grade daughter walk the the neighborhood. She can not leave the yard, go on class field trips, birthday parties….. Her mom scolded me when I let my 5 yo play outside in our yard by herself

  41. Annie June 10, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    I had never heard of redshirting before reading this article in Canadian Family magazine:

  42. Sharon Davids June 10, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    My daughter started kindergartent when she was almost 6. She missed the cutoff by 6 weeks. She was also under 40 pounds. The biggest difference she will have her basmitzah early in 7th grade some of her friends are late in 7th grade or early in 8th grade.

    After begging me to go on early field trips she now says I am banned. I did not do anything wrong she just wants it to be tween time with only teachers present. She has been cleaning my house now the finals are almost done. Lucky me.

  43. Donna June 10, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    I rented my house in a college town while I was in A. Samoa. I ended up renting to a non-college couple who stayed the whole time I was gone so it wasn’t an issue, but my property manager was definitely told to get parents to cosign any lease by a college student. Parents have incomes to cover rent and any damages to the property; college students traditionally do not. It is a matter for finances, not helicoptering.

    Now why the parents are escorting their children to look at properties and filling out paperwork, I can’t understand. I can totally understand parents doing it if they are local and their children still away at college. That is just being helpful and something that I would do for friends and family moving from out of town. I can even understand parents wanting to see the property if they are going to be cosigning or paying, but the children should be taking the lead by college age, let alone post-college.

  44. pentamom June 10, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    I don’t care how much you trust the person you’re co-signing for, you don’t co-sign for something without checking it out yourself. That’s just basic common sense. If you WANT to just leave it up to the other person than can be okay in some situations, but the idea that it’s none of your business to make sure that something is a sound investment if you’re actually on the hook for it because you’re supposed to “trust the other person’s judgment” is actually not a responsible attitude.

    I really don’t think there’s anything even remotely helicopterish as such about looking over an apartment with your kid, especially the first time, provided you’re only showing them how it’s done, not taking over the process completely. Even surgeons “watch one, do one, teach one” — they don’t just go straight from the classroom to independent surgery. Apartment-hunting is a great example of something you learn by going with someone who’s done it before. By the second or third time, they should be independent, but there’s nothing over-protective about teaching a kid how to pick an apartment by doing it with them the first time or two. I’m not saying no kids are able to do it on their own they first time if they choose, but that it’s not taking over and mommying to actually show them how it’s done in a real life situation, before expecting them to do it on their own.

  45. Havva June 10, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Okay, reading the debates parents are going through really seems to indicated just how messed up our public schools are. Some parents are worried their child won’t be challenged enough. Other that it will all be too much. And worst of all the parents that thought it would be okay and sent the kid, and then the kid grew a dislike of learning and felt like ‘bad’ kids.

    These schools/states/etc that want high performance need to seriously look at Montessori and uproot their approach. As a Montessori student I have seen young kids perform at a high level. It was pretty common to know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, read, and write in both bock and cursive by the time we finished kindergarten. (I get not every kid can do that and we were from a high socio-economic standing) We weren’t pressured for a moment, and we NEVER had worksheets. It was fun, it was gradual, it was a layers process, and it respected our abilities and addressed our deficits. It gave us time to master the fundamentals before asking us to try something that required mastery of those fundamentals.

    Then I transferred to a “gifted and talented” program in a public school where the socio-economics were about the same. It was the first time I was ‘tied to a desk’ or asked to learn at the same speed as others. It was painful for me and I realized it was also why for the first time ever I heard kids declare things like “I’m not good at math” and “I hate reading”. I never heard that at Montessori. It was always just a case of. “I haven’t gotten to [the free reading area/multiplication/cursive] yet. I’m still working on [phonetics book 5/my number strip/block letters].”

  46. SKL June 10, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    My kids just finished 2nd grade and at least 3 of their classmates turned 9 before the end of the school year. (The year they entered KG, the cutoff was September 30, so these kids weren’t even close.

    One of these is a kid with real learning challenges, so I have no judgment there.

    The other two are top students. Each year they are recognized at the awards ceremony for their achievements. I would be embarrassed to have my kid up there receiving awards due to my manipulation, at the expense of the kids who are the normal age for their grade.

    In all, at least one third of the kids in my daughters’ class are turning 9 before the September 30 cutoff. There is pressure on moms to redshirt even bright children. It’s a shame.

    Of course redshirting also makes it harder for the other kids, because it sets the bar higher for those who are not redshirted. That’s just not fair.

    As for whether school is too much for young kids, both of mine are young for their grade and they manage. Being free-range has helped them to be more capable of many of the challenges than their older classmates. Do I think some of the assignments are idiotic, yes, but I would think the same if they were a year older. At least they are getting it over with.

  47. Donna June 10, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    I have no problem with parents making an individual decision based on the readiness of their own child whether to red shirt or not. Not doing so with my brother is probably my parents biggest parenting regret.

    Red shirting is only a problem if it becomes the set standard for everyone. That is not happening at all in my area, but it does seem to be happening other places based on what I read here.

  48. pentamom June 10, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    SKL, you make some good points. I just want to point out, though, that having a different opinion on whether a child is ready or kindergarten is more challenging that it used to be or whatever is not the difference between Free Range and helicoptering, nor is it easily chalked up to certain motives and attitudes about child-rearing or life in general, it’s a difference of opinion. Two people can have rather different perspectives on what constitutes a child being ready to start kindergarten and how to determine that, and it not reflect whether both, neither, or only one of them is Free Range. Not everyone who thinks X child isn’t ready for X kindergarten setting is being overprotective or underestimating what kids are capable of, and not everyone who sends their youngish child to kindergarten is Free Range.

  49. pentamom June 10, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    And I do mean to refer to “normal” children there. Even within the range of “normal” children, it’s not necessarily overprotective to have different ideas about what’s appropriate for a given child in a given setting.

  50. Jessica June 10, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    I would argue that the trend of red-shirting is a side effect of the increased expectations placed on kindergarteners. Instead of learning through play the academic requirements are becoming more rigorous, including having “homework”. As a result, kids (often boys more than girls – Developmentally speaking) do not have the social-emotional readiness or the impulse control to manage these expectations. Kindergarteners now do what first graders used to do, so the newly 5 years old child is expected to do work that was once appropriate for a 6 year old. And the behavior expectations have changed with a more rigorous academic expectation. As a result, parents are sometimes encouraged to keep their kid home (out of kindergarten) an extra year because they are not “ready”. So instead of the school meeting the child where he or she is (as it should be) the child is expected to meet the school where they want him/her to be. Developmentally this may not be an appropriate expectation.

    The other concern is with the cut off dates themselves. They are arbitrary and in many areas (including mine), they vary by district not even by county or state. So a child who lives one street over from me who happens to live in another district and who has the same birthday as my child might be eligible for Kindergarten while my child is not eligible in our district despite academic or social readiness.

    So while parents might be part of the issue with red-shirting, it’s my opinion that this is a systemic issue that has trickled down onto parents and not the other way around.

  51. Brenna June 10, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    I think there are a lot of problems with redshirting kindergarteners. For starters, as several people have pointed out, there are ALWAYS going to be kids who are the youngest in the class. As the 60 minutes show pointed out, what happens when we’ve redshirted everyone who has a January – August birthday? Now the December kids are the youngest in the class, and we’ve effectively delayed the start of school by an entire year.

    Secondly, this is really only a problem for the middle and upper class. There is an entire segment who cannot afford daycare for yet another year. So we’ve now put those kids, who may already be at a disadvantage, at yet a further disadvantage.

    And as others pointed out, this would not be such an issue if we kept kindergarten as (at least I think) it should be. Fun, games, play, and not the start of yet more horrible testing.

  52. Paul June 10, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    I say it all depends on the parent’s reasons and the child’s abilities. Kindergarten can be a very non-free-range experience so I understand when parents want to delay kindergarten for their child to have more free time. I also understand when parents feel their child isn’t ready for various reasons. Some children just develop at different rates.

    My boy is two and half years old and our cut-off for school out here is September 1st. His birthday is on the third. My son is already much larger than other kids his age and we read to him so he is already pretty good with his alphabet and picking out words he’s memorized from books and writing a few letters. If he maintains the same rate I think we will petition the cut-off so that he isn’t bored in school.

  53. melanie June 10, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Seems useful to point out that redshirting or no, life isnt fair. There are kids that turn 6 in September or October that are often ahead of their classmates and part of that could be attributed to an age advantage. No matter when your child has a birthday, parents can celebrate their child when they do their best whether they are the first to read chapterbooks or last to learn multiplication – in fact, any child may be both! All parents have the responsibility to model skills that help kids cope with both perfection and failure, and at some point along the way may have to step in to work with a teacher to get their kids specialized help.

  54. Beth Holmes June 10, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    I shared this post of FB and so far have only received 3 comments all of which disagree with this and one of whom was almost irate. I guess this touched a nerve. Of course the last one has kids who are in their late 20s and 30s and went to school when the cut off was in December which makes a difference.
    Here they are with names erased
    Commenter #1: Can be true especially for males. I know one set of parents with a child who had a late Sept. birthday before the cutoff date at that time (the cutoff seems to be gradually moving earlier) who would tell you that holding him back was the smartest decision they ever made for him.

    Commenter #2: They tried moving me from K to 1st grade (precocious reader). But I felt over my head (as I dimly recall) and was put back in K. Good move.
    17 minutes ago · Edited · Like

    Commenter #3: I have two sons with October birthdays and I redshirted both of them … they were also physically small so I kept them home with me another year.
    It’s one of the best decision I ever made for them … I’m not a helicopter parent to my now lawyer and engineer, though.
    My other two guys had late spring birthdays and I could tell for YEARS that they were “young” compared to many in the classes.
    The author may want to rethink “trend” and start researching child development.

  55. Katie S June 10, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    I do think some children really need to be “held back” a year with schooling. My 2 stepkids started K at age 5, and it was clear they were struggling a bit with some of the work in both K and 1st grade. I wondered then if we should have held them back a year, but we didn’t. They’re now in 3rd and 5th grade, and finally starting to catch up and be doing work at grade level, but it has been an uphill challenge for both of them. I’ll be curious to see how they progress as they get to middle and high school.

    If you can hold your child back so they have every chance of maturing and being more capable of the work, I think that would be better than having them struggle year after year, losing confidence and thinking they’re the “dumb kids” and hating school.

    It’s really an individual decision, to be made by the parents for each child.

  56. Beth Holmes June 10, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    What also annoys me is that it’s up to the parent whether they “redshirt” or hold their child back if they think they are not ready for K, but in the reverse situation most school districts will absolutely NOT budge on the cut-off date if your child has a birthday just after the date is absolutely ready to start school. That’s just too bad. My daughter has an early October birthday and our cut-off is Sept. 1 so she is one of the oldest in her class. She was absolutely ready to start K when she was 4 almost 5 but was not allowed to. How come parents get a choice in one instance and not the other. Many girls are ready to start K if they have a birthday right after the date. I have a close friend who’s daughter’s birthday is Sept. 3. She actually wished she would have had her in August. They are a tall family and her daughter will now be the oldest in her class and will also be the tallest and biggest and will most likely feel odd about that. Plus she will also most likely be ready to start when she’s 3 days away from being 5.

  57. Matthew June 10, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    I’m really getting sick of the attacks on the male of the species.

    I agree it depends on the individual child whether it’s helicopter parenting or not. As far as I’m concerned, age is irrelevent. If a kid is ready, start them, if not, don’t. There’s a school in Arizona that just about ignores age, and shuffles kids freely to their reading/math/etc. level. From what I understand, it’s improved both academics and socialization.

    It’s sheer idiocy kids should be grouped by age instead of ability. It puts excessive pressure on the weaker students and removes all pressure from the stronger ones.

    However, holding a kid back specifically for some perceived competitive advanatage instead of targeting their appropriate level is obnoxious, and likely to backfire.

    Interestingly enough, it’s even backfires in sports at the professional level, since the pros expect a younger athlete to continue improving but believe an older one has plateaued.

    As far as these constant attacks on males go, for school, all it takes is a few minutes twice a day for physical activity, and more combining auditory, visual, and tactile learning.

    This attitude towards men though is getting absurd. An aquaintance recently posted an article talking about how all men are rapists simply because of their plumbing, not any attitudes or actions. Sorry, Off topic. It’s just nice over here to get away from the men are automatically violent/pedophiles/rapists/etc, or now, incapable of attending school, by virtue of their gender.

  58. SKL June 10, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    The whole “chained to a desk for 7 hours” is hype. Readers, has this actually been your kid’s experience in KG? Or 1st or 2nd? My kids are in 2nd and they have yet to be asked to sit in an assigned seat for the majority of the school day. They do all sorts of interesting things and on balance, if a kid is not very immature, it’s a better experience than sitting at home for a whole extra year. Unless your home happens to be a really cool place.

    I wish size did not matter in some people’s minds. My kid, now a 3rd grader, is still shorter than many KG kids. She absolutely holds her own. She is one of the fastest runners and one of the few who can do pull-ups and a few other things. 😉 She is very social and is ahead of the class in many areas pertinent to social comfort / acceptance. Who cares if she is short?

    The only thing I wonder about is what her 3rd grade teacher / classmates will think when my kids have to bring their booster seats on field trips. 😛

  59. Cynthia812 June 10, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    Where I am, Kindergarten is not compulsory (not many people know this). If I had a child near the cutoff, I would keep him out, then decide the next year whether to put him in KG or 1rst grade. However, all but one of my kids are late fall/early winter, so it’s not much of an issue. Plus, we homeschool sometimes.

  60. SKL June 10, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    An example of readiness due to free range upbringing. When my kid has trouble understanding something, she has no trouble approaching her teacher and articulating what the issue is. She is able to use her wits to apply different approaches if her first try does not work. She has auditory processing problems, vision problems, and is otherwise pretty average, but she pulls through (got honor roll all this year). I do NOT hold her hand on things (other than giving her extra work at home for stuff her brain needs more time to absorb).

  61. Doug June 10, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    I would have to disagree that the trend to redshirt kindergarten is more related to helicopter parenting. In my experience, it is that parents want their young children to have as much unstructured free time as possible, which is highly compatible with free-range parenting. With the advent of all-day kindergarten, minimal recesses and the discouragement of robust physical activity, it really is harder for boys to succeed in school (and little wonder, they are hardly given time to relax and be kids). Delaying this regimentation in favor of the flexibility provided by an extra year of unstructured free-time is less a sign of helicopter parenting than an indictment the trends in early childhood education.

  62. Katie S June 10, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    SKL- no, it’s not hype. My kids have had assigned seats since their full-day pre-k year. They get 1/2 hour of recess each day, unless it’s rainy or cold out (they hardly go out in winter since some parents neglect to send their kid with appropriate clothing, so the whole class misses out). If they don’t go out, they play indoor games “quietly” in the classroom.

    Of course, with kindergarten, they have some “stations” that they can do play-learning games. But they very much have a strict schedule to follow from the beginning.

  63. Ann in L.A. June 10, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    Our school tried very hard to red-shirt our boy. We fought it tooth and nail. I think they were surprised, most parents just go along, or even ask for it. We ended up handing them a six-inch tall stack of journal articles detailing the harm it does, especially when the old-for-grade kids start shaving a year before everyone else, driving a year before everyone else, have hormones raging a year before everyone else, can legally drop out a year before everyone else, and do in fact drop out in higher numbers than kids who are in the age-appropriate grade. They are also more likely to use drugs and get arrested.

    Today, it’s not just kindergarten: Your Kid’s Brain Might Benefit From an Extra Year in Middle School, details how parents are now red-shirting for high school as well–and for the same reasons as the kindergarten parents. There is legitimately a big problem at the middle-school to high-school transition, where lots of kids who failed to learn the basics are expected to go to the next level of learning. There is a high retention and drop out rate around 9th grade–those kids who are truly struggling need help. That, however, is not what the Atlantic article is discussing. Instead it’s about parents who are worried their little darlings just aren’t ready and need to be coddled another year. I half suspect that part of it is that the parents aren’t ready to be the parents of a high schooler–I can’t be that old!

    In addition to the kindergarten and middle school red-shirting, we’re seeing more kids taking off a “gap year” before college as well. Some kids travel, some kids do a year of charity work, some kids just sit around and veg. I think they idea is to have one last period of fun before your life of work and drudgery begins. I trace its popularity to Prince William’s gap year–which is fairly common in Britain, but which was pretty much unheard of here before that.

    This all adds up to extending childhood and adolescence, and makes it unremarkable that people think you don’t really become an adult until your late 20’s.

  64. brian June 10, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    If you are not a slacker as a parent you can avoid red shirting by just making sure to only conceive so you can have a kid just after the cutoff for the district where you plan to raise a child. Great parenting begins at conception and you know, I would do anything for my kid.

    I have started an app called, Optimal Conception Date and you can put your headphones under your arm to take your temperature which then uses your school district’s calendar and works out the calculations for the 3 days a year you should have sex to conceive on the right day.

    In California, some parents actually had to force their OB to use drugs to postpone labor a few weeks to make sure to get past the cutoff. In one, isolated instance in Portland, a couple aborted a child destined to be born about 1 month before the cutoff knowing that it would be destined to a life of mediocrity.

  65. mystic_eye June 10, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    It always surprises me to see how many people have issues with kindergarten and yet the question isn’t whether they are going to send their child to kindergarten or not but when. Kindergarten isn’t mandatory you simply put your child in grade 1 when they get to the right age.

  66. Ravana June 10, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    Around here it is not uncommon for overly wealthy parents to buy a condo by the college their child is attending. This condo is not for the child, but for the parents. One or both the parents will drop everything and move to where the child is in school so they can continue to “help” them with everything from their laundry to their dissertation.

  67. Jenny R. June 10, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    When you hold kids back, you send the message that they can’t handle what other kids their age can. It seems a shame for a child to start their academic life with this assumption.

    How do you know if your child is ready until you give them a chance to try it? Unless they have a real developmental delay, I see no reason not to give them the opportunity to rise to the occasion.

    I’m happy that my kids go to a public school with a high percentage of low-income families who often don’t have the option to pay for another year of child-care. So it’s not much an issue for my community. I was annoyed at my pediatrician who advised (completely unsolicited) that I might want to hold my developmentally normal son back because he has a September birthday and the cutoff is Dec 31st! While kindergarten was a challenge, as it is for most kids, he struggled and ended the year ready to handle school. The New Yorker had an interesting article last year addressing this issue. They cite a study that shows that being younger also has advantages.

  68. Christine Hancock June 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Whenever I see that phrase, I think of the Star Trek term, “red shirt”, meaning a nameless crewman, always wearing a red shirt, that follows Captain Kirk unto a mission, and dies a violent and swift death just minutes into the mission.

    Humor aside, it is up to the parent when a child starts kindergarten, or even skips it altogether. If I sent my kids to public school, I would definitely at least have considered keeping my oldest home an extra year, given his proclivity for causing disturbances and general defiance. Lately, kindergarten just doesn’t meet the needs of very active, strong willed children. Kindergarten is better for docile, academically inclined children.

  69. anonymous mom June 10, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    “This all adds up to extending childhood and adolescence, and makes it unremarkable that people think you don’t really become an adult until your late 20′s.”

    To some extent, when this is the context, I’d argue that you don’t. We seem to think maturity is some magical process that just happens, and in some areas that’s true. But much of our growth from adolescence to adulthood isn’t about biological or neurological changes, but experiences. Taking on responsibility–or having it forced upon us–causes us to grow and mature. Lack of responsibility causes us to remain immature.

  70. Christine Hancock June 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    @ Brian

    No disrespect to you personally, but wow, and not in a good way. Words can not describe… just… oh my fricken gosh. An app for timing birth to align optimally for the cutoff dates for kindergarten. Really?!

    I believe in the free market system, and if there is a market for that product, hey, go for it, but again… wow.

  71. Mikki June 10, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    I totally disagree with redshirting – unless there is a very good reason to do it.

    I was held and my parents did regret it. Being the oldest is not the best. The first to mature is not a plus. I always felt I was in the wrong grade and was embarrassed. I see all these big kids (some that turn 7 in the spring of kindergarten) and they look so out of place.

    I have 5 year old daughter that missed the september cuttoff by a few days and I spent months
    petitioning for early enrollment. She is going extremely well in kindergarten.

    I also think redshirting is the cause of the increased standards in kindergarten. Six year olds coming with increased abiliites (reading and math) and their parents demand “gifted education.” To me, if a kids is held, he does not believed in any gifted programs- he should be moved to the correct grade.

  72. Ann in L.A. June 10, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    I’ve discussed timing births with soon-to-be parents. There is actually a school in L.A. which solves the redshirting and age distribution problem by pretty much only taking kids with fall birthdays.

    TaraK: What is wrong with boys that they can’t handle school?

    There is tremendous variation among kids, and I alternately pity and respect teachers who have to deal with kids who usually span at least 18 months of age, different energy levels, different personalities, different preferences, different spoken languages, etc.

    However, there are real and well-proven developmental differences between boys and girls. On average, girls are more verbal and have a larger vocabulary than boys at a young age—that means that girls, on average, are ready for pre-literacy and literacy work earlier than the average boy. In other words, they can handle the school part of school at an earlier age.

    In addition, boys are more physically active at kindergarten ages than girls. They have a hard time sitting down for an extended period, which is required for today’s kindergartens, which tend to be far more academic than they were a couple decades back.

    Even simple things like fine motor skills, required to hold crayons and pencils, tend to develop later in boys than girls. Walk into any school where the work is displayed on the wall and look at the differences in penmanship between the second or third grade boys and the girls. Though you will find boys with good penmanship and girls with bad, on average the girls will be more legible than the boys. It’s not just that girls are more careful when writing (but if they take more care in their work, that also argues for developmental gender differences,) it is an issue of fine motor skill development. Even older boys tend to report more hand pain when writing than girls do, writing can literally be more painful for boys. Little things like that add up over a 13 year K-12 experience.

    Girls on average simply develop the skills that are necessary for an academic environment at an earlier age than boys do on average. That is a big reason why more boys are red-shirted than girls.

  73. pentamom June 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    I’m pretty sure brian is satirizing. The culmination of the couple aborting the child who would have been born in the wrong month clinches it.

  74. pentamom June 10, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Matthew, where did you see attacks on the males of the species?

  75. Maggie in VA June 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    Well, I think a few posters have gotten to the real heart of the problem, the kindergarten-as-the-new-first-grade trend. I had been bemused at our day care’s insistence on teaching my twins reading and writing tasks that I didn’t see till kindergarten and first grade, but now I know it’s the new pedagogical order. And when did being a boy become a learning disability? I don’t think there’s a case for red shirting (shout-out to all my Star Trek nerd sisters!) my larger twin, and now I dread that someone may suggest it for my smaller, admittedly less developmentally advanced, twin.

  76. anonymous mom June 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    I’m honestly having trouble seeing the long-term academic advantages this would confer. I can certainly see how, in the K-2 years, when even 6 months can make a difference developmentally, it would be advantageous. But, in high school? I just don’t think the differences between 17 and 18 year olds, or 15 and 16 year olds, are so significant that just being a year older will confer an academic advantage. And, if this is common practice, it’s hard to see how it’s advantageous at all.

  77. Reziac June 10, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    When did kindergarten become compulsory? When I was a kid it was optional!!

  78. Mike June 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    I wish more people would “redshirt” their children, for as long as they are legally allowed to do so. Because every year that you can keep them out of day prison is another year in which they can continue to love learning and learning through play. But having just recently read Peter Gray’s book “Free to Learn,” perhaps I am a bit sensitive on that subject right now. 🙂

  79. anonymous mom June 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    @Reziac, I think it’s still optional in most states but most parents don’t know that.

  80. Maria June 10, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    Let them play! My homeschooled ‘red shirted’ kindergartener is currently playing outside with her younger brother while I put the toddler down for a nap. I guarantee they are learning more important life skills while being allowed to PLAY than they would stuck at a desk doing worksheets and taking common core tests. My kids get way more ‘free range’ out of school than in school, which is exactly why I held my daughter back. I just wish I could do the same for my son.

  81. Molly Eness June 10, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    School is miserable for young boys. They have to sit still and be quiet for 6 hours. My boys were in trouble all the time in the early grades.The girls really do have an easier time of it. Plus the push to read at age 5 is ridiculously inappropriate developmentally. Starting late gives you an extra year of childhood. I see no problem with it if you aren’t desperate for the free daycare. This is completely unrelated to helicopter parenting.

  82. J.T. Wenting June 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    Timing birth so your child can enter school at “the right age”?
    Sounds like a market for that, especially as waiting lists for admission of children to decent schools can be longer than the time needed to grow a child to that age.
    Think 7 year waiting lists for a primary school where they start at 6 (yes, my sister saw that trying to sign up her children).
    So you have to sign them up before conception, you’d therefore best make sure your child gets conceived and born at the right moment to reach the critical age of 6 in the correct few months to have them able to actually take up that position in that school (not sure if you have to give sex and name on signing up, if so you want to get IVR done with sex selection, too).

    As to parents being involved in helping their offspring find a home, it’s only natural they’d take an interest.
    My parents helped me select my first home, in part because I had no car and viewing several properties in a single day in a city I didn’t live in at the time was a lot easier when using a car.
    And then when buying my first house after that rental, my dad helped with the mortgage, using his extensive experience as a financial consultant and his contacts in banks to get me an excellent deal.

    But I’d never dream of them handling the entire process for me. Maybe if they’d offered to pay the first several years of rent/mortgage, but not otherwise 🙂

  83. Donna June 10, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    anonymous mom – The vast majority of the time this is not done for academic reasons and is done for developmental and maturity reasons. My immature brother was still more immature than his like-aged peers in high school. He was still more immature than his like-aged peers in much of his 20s. It has just been in the last couple years or so that I’ve seen his maturity catch up with his peers and he is 30.

    While I think he still would have been on the immature side in high school, being 16 to their 15 would have given him a leg up.

  84. Papilio June 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    “‘What is wrong with boys that they can’t handle school???’

    Reverse the clauses here and you’ll have your answer.”

    Puzzled beat me to it! What is wrong with school that it can’t handle half of the student population???

  85. J.T. Wenting June 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    “School is miserable for young boys. They have to sit still and be quiet for 6 hours. My boys were in trouble all the time in the early grades.The girls really do have an easier time of it. Plus the push to read at age 5 is ridiculously inappropriate developmentally.”

    And don’t forget that most of the teachers are women, often hardcore feminists with a distinct hostility towards men, including their male pupils.
    It’s far easier for a boy in a class led by a male teacher than a female one, especially at an early age. For girls there’s far less trouble with a male teacher than for boys with a female teacher.

  86. Jessica June 10, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    I have to respectfully disagree! I will not be sending my boys, they do not make the cutoff so really it is not my decision but I agree with it strongly. Although my boys is reading now, he is very immature and LOVES to just be a kid playing. I do not feel the need to hurry up and send him when he can have another year at home playing and being a kid!! In fact, I only send him to preschool 3 days a week, so he can have more free play time. This is such an important time and so short before we institutionalize them, why not? I am in no rush to get him into school as long as he is not asking for it. We work together at home and he is not “Bored” so I find this extra year as a valuable time for him to enjoy being a small child without schooling responsibilities.

    I taught elementary school before staying home with my children and in too many to count, cases. Boys were immature, restless and deemed trouble makers within the school. Boys, in general, hated school by 3rd grade. I am not encouraging all to wait until 6 to start school but I would recommend anyone whose child is close to the cutoff to truly put some thought into the decision. You are your child’s best advocate, you make the decision you feel is best.

    By the way, no parent I have ever met, regretted waiting until six to send their child (boy or girl) but many I have met regretted sending them too early.

  87. SteveS June 10, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    Granted, there are a variety of reasons for doing this, but the majority of people that I know that have done it have been completely up front that it was because of athletics and trying to give them an advantage in terms of size and athletic ability.

    I guess my kids have gone to the wrong schools because my oldest is in middle school and hasn’t had to ever sit quiet for 6 hours in a day.

  88. julie June 10, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    I teach in a small private school. We took a careful look at our records over 10 years, and found that almost all of the students we recommended be held back at any grade level were either those we had allowed in despite their birthdays being before our cutoff, or were very close to the cutoff. Further, with a very few exceptions, students whose birthdays were near the cutoff, or before it, were students who struggled in later grades. Note that students we had allowed in who were before the cutoff were those we had interviewed and determined to be “ready”. The students’ difficulties were not always intellectual or academic; many of them also had social difficulties as well. Their difficulties worsened with each year we allowed them to pass on. When we were able to persuade parents to allow them a “bonus year” in lower grades generally managed much better in subsequent grades.

    We did quite a bit of soul-searching with this information in front of us, and finally moved our cutoff date back to July 1, and no longer allow exceptions. We have not needed to recommend retention for any student admitted since we made that change. It has meant that some families who were on our waitlist have chosen other schools; many parents are very determined that their child is ready for school before our cutoff, but our long experience persuades us this is unlikely.

  89. EricS June 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    I’ve never heard of the term “Red Shirting”. But actually know what that is. It’s unbelievable how parents get suckered into following trends. No better than kids getting manipulated by social media. It’s like they don’t have a mind of their own, and rely on others to TELL THEM what to do as parents. Seriously, if some people can’t figure out how to parent, based on how they grew up, maybe they shouldn’t be having kids. An insufficient, paranoid, spoiled, and helicoptered child, becomes a drain on resources. Resources other children need. Children that are actually in a better position mentally and emotionally than others.

    Parents should know their child by now. Stop listening to others, and use your better judgement. If your child is ready, they say they are ready (with no influence from anyone else, including the parent), and you think they are ready, screw what anybody else tells you. Go ahead and do right by your child. Not “busy body” “know it alls”.

    Personally, I would start them as early as possible. Children have proven they are capable of starting school at a young age. Adults give them far too little credit.

  90. no rest for the weary June 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Ah, but in a Sudbury Valley School, “redshirting” wouldn’t even be an issue, as the kids are not “chained to desks” or even given curriculum-based learning goals. They just… decide for themselves what to learn.

    So if a 4-year-old goes to a school like that, they will have access to kids ranging from 4 – 18, they will have access to the outdoors and to tools and to books and to computers and… they will follow their interests, and get sparked by kids they witness doing things they want to be able to do (read, for example).

    Think it’s too radical to work? Read “Free to Learn” by Peter Gray. It totally blew my mind. I wish I’d had an option like that for my kids.

  91. no rest for the weary June 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    I’m also guessing that most every kid who “graduates” from a Sudbury Valley School is absolutely capable of finding an apartment and signing their own lease.

  92. EricS June 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    I guess maybe Kindergarten has changed drastically since I was a kid. I started Kindergarten late, as I moved here when I was 5, in December. I got enrolled the following February. Graduated. And started grade 1 in the fall of that year.

    In kindergarten, we didn’t have outlined curriculum. We played pretty much all day, had nap time, recess and lunch. In at 8:30am, out at 3pm. And we walked to school and from school on our own. A little less than half a mile, in the city. We were encouraged to try new things though. So if we spent a lot of time in the sandbox the day before, we were encouraged to try blocks, or painting. We also had story time, before nap time. It wasn’t until grade 1 when we started with reading, writing, and math.

  93. brian June 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    Yes, joking. (I can’t believe I had to write that!)

    The issue here, just as with most of this stuff is that for some kids there is a developmental reason to delay. I don’t think anyone objects to holding those kids back.

    The problem is that the same principle is applied as a “tool for success” for kids who don’t need it. In turn, that tool for success then gets marketed.

  94. Bill June 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    Regarding the second half: This problem has been building for a while. For what little it’s worth, in the late 80’s, I helped with my university’s orientation activities for incoming first-year students.

    There was always a Dean on call as the designated holder of the “umbilical cord axe”, to deal with overly attached parents of incoming students who were not ready to let them go.

  95. SKL June 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    Donna, I know this varies by region, but I do not agree that only parents with challenged kids redshirt. Not one single kid in my daughters’ grade started school on time if their birthday was June thru September. Not one. Boy or girl, smart or otherwise.

    My sister-in-law says that the same was true in her now 21yo daughter’s class (in a rural public school).

    I am glad the trend hasn’t taken over the whole country yet. I fear that may happen, though.

    I really think it benefits typical kids to start using those brain cells connected with academic learning by age 4 or 5. I see the benefits every day. And the whole “chained to the desk” image is just too much. Parents should spend a good chunk of time observing a KG class before they decide to redshirt a normal child (or even a challenged child). Just because there are chairs in the classroom does not mean the kids’ butts are glued into them all day.

    On the “boy issue.” Whose issue is it, really, that young boys’ typical behavior prevents them from being first in class? To whom is it important that a little boy be class valedictorian? Only to that child’s parents. Perhaps the parents need to re-examine their priorities. It’s not like public schools expel boys for wiggling. Sure, they get more negative feedback if they can’t comply, but chances are they also get negative feedback at home and around town if they are, e.g., climbing on the grocery shelves etc. Kids need to learn there’s a time and a place for everything. I tell my 7yo girls this quite frequently.

    Did someone bring up Montessori above? Didn’t M Montessori conclude that age 4.5 was the natural age for children to learn to read? And that putting it off would do more harm than good?

  96. lollipoplover June 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Redshirting is such a gross term, like moist. Hate that word.

    School readiness is not scientific or by determined by birthday cutoffs. Parents know their kid best and I will never judge anyone who wants to hold back or delay schooling for any reason. Children are a vast array of *ready*- emotionally, socially, and academically.

    Around here, we only have 1/2 day kindergarten so the choice was easy to send all 3 of mine at age 5. I didn’t think my oldest was ready academically but was encouraged to send him by the kindergarten teacher who was well respected in our community. I am so glad I did. What I thought was a slow learner was actually mini-seizures in his brain and he was diagnosed with epilepsy and getting treatment by 1st grade. I would never have caught that if I held him back and sent him to pre-k again.

    And the kids don’t sit all day at our schools. Reading outdoors is one of the newest rewards (with the weather being so nice) and my oldest daughter gets to bring a yoga ball in to sit on throughout the day as a book club incentive.
    They are doing historic fashion shows, talent show rehearsals, and field day games. Honestly, it sounds exhausting to go to school!

  97. bobca June 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    “Red-shirting” children at kindergarten age has been the norm in my neighborhood for many years. My son, now 15, as a birthday in late August. He was & is very mature for his age. He is an honors student, just inducted into the National Honor Society as a sophomore, and he is the youngest in his class by a long way. The average age in his class is almost a full year older than him because of parents holding their kids back, and yes, this is a neighborhood rampant with parental competitiveness.

  98. Emily June 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    @Christine Hancock–I think Brian was being sarcastic about the Optimum Conception Date.

  99. Wendy W June 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    For those parents who are “red-shirting” high school or those kids taking a gap year, I wonder how many of those kids were ones who were on the border line at kindergarten age and were NOT held back then? Maybe the older kids are compensating for the too-early start.

    My dd was a very young 5 when she started K, and she excelled academically all through school. She graduated high school still only 17. She chose to take a gap year before college. Drove us nuts her Sr. year as she did/could not articulate what she was feeling and simply did not do the work of choosing and applying to colleges. Very uncharacteristic behavior for our over-achiever. She knew she was not ready for that next step. Her gap year was spent working in a job related to her intended career, and was invaluable for helping her determine her focus in college.

    Kids mature at different rates, and at different stages. Why can’t we let parents (and the kids when older) make those determinations for themselves instead of condemning people for not following the prescribed pattern of progress?

    Whoever mentioned the school where grades/ages are ignored, and educational readiness determines class placement- do you have any more details about what district that is or the name of the school? I would love to read more about it. I’ve thought for years that that is how elem. schools should be organized. Unfortunately, most schools are dead set against anything that looks like “ability tracking”.

  100. Liz June 10, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    For some, other issues affect this decision. My daughter has a summer birthday. I waited a year to enroll her in kindergarten.

    The school she was to attend (and did attend, starting as a six year old) was full day. It had ONE 20 minute recess. This is for a child that just turned five. One recess – 20 minutes. No downtime, no rest time. Just academics and prepping for the eventual tests. The PTA could not even convince this school to offer Spanish language, because it would take up too much valued academic time – and of course, Spanish is not on the tests.

    I think this is developmentally inappropriate for this age. My daughter could have done it. I didn’t want her to. Instead she played outside, got daughter, went to a nature preschool for another year.

  101. SOA June 10, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    Amen. I have said on this site before I am not a fan of redshirting. I did not red shirt and my twins were born in May. They were 5 for a few months when they started kindergarten. They had had two years of part time preschool. They were ready. My son with autism would still have autism even if I redshirted so I don’t think holding him back would have made a difference.

    My other son is the top of his class in reading, reading a grade level ahead. He is the youngest in his class. So he is out performing in math and science and reading the kids almost a year to two years older than him. So yeah….. that just makes your kid look dumb. I don’t feel bad about rubbing that in the face of the pro red shirters because they try to rub in my face they think their kids are more likely to succeed. Not quite my dear.

    Around here all the yuppies red shirt. It is a badge of bragging that you can afford another year of day care and preschool and being a stay at home parent. They do it for sports reasons, and competitive parenting reasons. Everyone has to join the race to nowhere and have their kid be the best. I feel no pressure to join that race. I have one son who succeeds easily and one that struggles and will always struggle. So what? I think it is all stupid.

    I am surrounded by it though since we go to a very yuppie competitive parent school.

    The worst part about red shirting is we are going to have 20 year olds still in high school. Dating 14 year old freshmen. Or think about this- when your kid is 18 they can quit school if they want. Or move out. And they will only be juniors. Not cool. My son at 18 can kick me out of the IEP meetings. Not cool either.

    We will have freshmen that are 16 and can drive. Normally you had to be a sophmore at least to drive. Heck we can have 8th graders that are 16. Some of the kids in my son’s class are over 8 years old. Some will be turning 9 in second grade. That is nuts. Mine just turned 7. Its a joke. I hate it personally.

    The schools and teachers are not as in favor of it as you think they are. I have spoken to many teachers that think it is nuts. That the vast age difference in the students in the same grade is not good. Kids will be hitting puberty two years before their peers. Not good. Then the school system will pull your special education services if you don’t enroll your child when you are supposed to. My son would have had his speech therapy services pulled if we red shirted him. To me, that says they want them in school.

  102. Donna June 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    SKL – As both you and I have said, it varies by area. It is almost 100% unheard of where I live. I know a grand total of one child who was actually red shirted. Her birthday is within 2-3 days of the cut-off and her father will tell you that it was done because mom wasn’t ready for her baby to go off to school. Mom gives a different slant but the issue was social and not academic. Girl still kinda hates school and regularly asks to be homeschooled.

    I know a few others where it was recommended by the preschool teacher that the children be held back. Again, they were all August birthdays (our cut-off is Sept. 1)and are actually a mix of girls and boys. In every case, the parent opted to send the child to kindergarten anyway. And this was in the pretentious middle class suburban yuppie county where my child went to preschool (as opposed to the inner city school that she attends now where you would expect less red shirting).

    That said, as I’ve stated in other threads, I completely disagree about there being any benefit to starting kids in school at 4 or 5 or 6. There is simply no benefit in my opinion in doing the exact same curriculum for the exact same number of years only finishing a year earlier. I don’t think it is harmful for most kids (although it is for some) if that is what you want to do; but I don’t think it gives a single benefit either as at the end of 13 years both the red shirted kids and the non-red shirted kids are in the exact same place with the exact same knowledge.

    There seems to be the flip side of helicopter parenting running through this blog at times. Some seem to desire to push through childhood as fast as possible. I don’t baby my child, but I don’t see any reason she needs to hurry up and be an adult either. She has 70 years to handle adult responsibilities/worries and a mere 18 years to be totally carefree and unhindered.

    I am also a HUGE fan of the gap year (someone mentioned that earlier) and will strongly encourage my child to do it. 13 years of school in a row is enough. She should take a breather. Work and family and responsibilities comes soon enough. I don’t mean that she needs to be babied and stunted, but to go see the world, indulge in a passion, build houses for the poor or whatever strikes her fancy with nothing tying her down. College will still be there the next year. There is no award for completing any of these “milestones” first.

  103. K June 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

    I also respectfully disagree that it’s done “to give kids an edge.” My boy turned 5 the day after the cutoff. I could have pushed and had him enrolled, but we decided to give him another year, not to be bigger for sports or anything, but because he needed that year to mature. Kindergarten is not the way it was when I attended, and sitting still and being expected to work independently for lomg periods of time is difficult developmentally for boys that age. I highly recommend the book, “The Minds of Boys.”

    My SIL is a teacher and she said every year she can tell which boys are younger in her K classes without looking at their birthdays, based solely on their behavior.

  104. Donna June 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    I meant that the kids who started at 4 and 5 and 6 are all at the same place with the same knowledge at the end of 13 years of school. Just got too into typing red shirted.

  105. Andy June 10, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    @Jenny R. “How do you know if your child is ready until you give them a chance to try it?”

    School expects certain things: attention span length (10-15 minutes here for 6 years old), ability to learn certain things (basic colors etc), ability to sit still and listen for certain length of time, not being too playful etc. You can google the list and then watch your child and measure those things.

    So, if my soon to be six years old can not sit and focus for 10 minutes, then he is not ready yet. If he has trouble to learn how to count till 10 or do other things on that basic list, then his brain is not ready yet.

    Elementary schools here actually do basic tests before first grade and some kids are then recommended to wait a year.

  106. Mike June 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    Wendy W- It is the Sudbury Valley School. It is a private school. There are a number of similar schools (not many), generally called democratic schools, around the country. Peter Gray talks about it extensively in his excellent book, “Free to Learn.”

  107. SOA June 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    For the whole having parents help them get apartments or co signing that is unfortunately necessary. My Dad had to co sign on my husband and I’s first rental apartment when we graduated college, got married and moved in together. We were 23. We lived with our parents in college so did not live in dorms or move out yet. So we had zero rental history. Most places require someone to have rental history to be on the lease. Or very very good credit. I had had a credit card for two years at that time trying to establish some credit and it was good but not enough established yet.

    So he had to co sign just so we could be approved. He knew we would take care of the property though and pay our bills. We already had jobs and everything. But that was pretty much the only option. After we had the lease a year and our lease was up we renewed it without his name on it because we then had renters credit.

    So this is kinda fairly common. Until you get the established credit and renter’s credit, an adult usually a grandparent or parent will have to co sign.

  108. Marybeth June 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    My 6th grader finishes elementary school tomorrow. We live in California, and when he started Kindergarten the law was that a child who turned 5 by December 5 could start school the September prior. (The law in our state has since changed.)

    So at 4 years, 10 months my youngest went off to Kindergarten…I just used that first day photo in a 6th grade slide show:-) In a speech he just wrote he said that first day of Kindergarten was the best day of all his school years because it was the day he got to start school.

    We have never, never, never regretted the decision. It has not affected his athletic performance or his scholastic ability. Were his fine motor skills great at the start of Kindergarten? No – but socially he was excited to be there and ready to learn.

    He is headed off to middle school and is enrolled in honors classes. He’ll be the last to drive among his peers but age-wise he won’t be chomping at the bit to get out of high school when he is almost 19.

    And that’s what I was thinking about when he was 4 years and 10 months…it was long range planning based on his parents’ judgement of his personality.

    I know he’ll be ready to fly without us by the time high school is done and I am so glad we did not hold him back so that he might be a little bigger or a little more coordinated. He’s not destined to be a Heisman Trophy winner (and besides American Football is not his sport) but he just placed third overall among 6th graders in a district wide track and field event. The sports argument does not hold water for us.

    A parent knows their child best. If they are ready to learn, let them go to school. And then support them in any free-range way you choose.

  109. Andy June 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    @SKL Boys develop slower then girls in a lot of ways and they have bigger need for physical movement. There are plenty of studies on both counts.

    Not being ready for school does not mean that it is slightly harder to understand something and the kid has to ask one more question. That is being ready for school.

    Kids born just before cut off are diagnosed with ADHD more often then September born kids. They are recommended to take ADHD drugs more often. I doubt it is because there is something magical about July and August that makes them ADHD. It is much more likely that September born kids had more time to mature before school. I find it entirely plausible that July and August born kids have higher proportion of not ready yet kids while almost all September born will be ready.

    For instance, if your kids attention span is not long enough yet, then you/him can not cure it by “trying hard”. His attention span will run out too soon to learn whatever he needs to learn. He will be fidgety and distract other kids. He will be “bad kid”, but punishments will not make his attention span higher.

    A “ready” kid may need 15 minutes a day to do homework while non-ready kid will need as hour or more a day for exactly the same amount of tasks.

    If your kids brain is not ready to learn as much fact as is needed within time period, then the kid will not learn them no matter what strategy you take. Having teacher explain the same thing again will not help, cause recipients brain is not ready to understand the required, say, math.

    If your child is ready for school, then all your problems are in the simple category: have you done it or were you lazy? If your child is not ready, parent have to spend huge amount of time just solving school related problems.

    From what you wrote, your family is composed of fast developing kids and you never encountered those problems. Count your blessings, but that is not the norm. I know parents who regret not to let their kid wait and school year sux hard for them.

  110. Mike June 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    Of course needing someone to co-sign for you because of some overly strict rental requirement is something entirely different than needing mommy or daddy to do everything for you, which was what the person was addressing.

  111. Wendy W June 10, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    @Mike- thank you. I have heard of the Sudbury-type schools, though the one I am most familiar with is one in New England with a different name that a book was written about. Those are a little TOO free for me! I was hoping someone had come up with a happy medium. Oh, well, maybe someday.

  112. Liz June 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    In Finland, formal education starts at seven. One reason, no doubt, that Finland always is in the top five countries for educational excellence. Just because some children can start formal education at a very young age doesn’t mean it’s right or developmentally appropriate for most.

  113. pentamom June 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    If you think requiring a co-signer for someone who has no established income and no credit history is an “overly strict requirement,” you’ve probably never been in the rental business.

    Aside from that, I agree with you — needing someone to cosign is a different thing from needing someone to find an apartment FOR you.

  114. Havva June 10, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    I brought up Montessori. Based on my experience and reading, I highly doubt Maria Montessori pin pointed 4.5 years old as the optimum time to teach reading. Though I do believe the delay doing more harm than good makes sense in context for her.

    The reason I doubt that she pin pointed 4.5 is that Montessori talked about “sensitive periods” and she gave age ranges in which that “sensitive period” will emerge if the kid is in range of normal. (This is the reasoning for mixed age classrooms). The first class group is 3-6 years old and reading happens some time in that phase (4.5 notably is the midpoint of that age group).

    M. Montessori educated the teachers to take note of the child’s interests and signs that a child had become sensitive to a lesson with the warning that forcing it before they were sensitive would be time consuming and possible futile. And that letting the ‘sensitive period’ pass would cause the child to loose interest and resist the lesson that comes too late.

    In practice that means new 3 year olds entering the class can, and do, get taught to read *if* they display a sensitivity to letters. I had that early sensitivity for reading, and got my first lesson as soon as I got the paint I wrote my first word in off my fingers. Cursive, however, took longer than for my friends. We all got there, though, we all had confidence we would. That confidence came from the fact that we all took to lessons offered instantly and with no hesitation. So the assumption for being ‘behind'(I only noticed my differences on transfer) was simply that I hadn’t gotten to it yet, not that it was hard for me.

    So yes Montessori is about timing, but the timing is “when this child is sensitive to learn” not “when the child (or group of kids) reaches 4.5 (3.1, 5.6, etc) years old.”

  115. Ann in L.A. June 10, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Some will be turning 9 in second grade.

    For some girls who experience precious puberty, this could mean getting their period in 2nd or 3rd or 4th grade. I can’t imagine how hard that would be! Our girl’s grade had a 5th grader start, and that seemed incredibly early.

  116. anonymous mom June 10, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    I honestly think this is more about different beliefs about children’s early education than about seeking an unfair advantage. I have never known anybody who delayed their kids’ entry into school so the child would do better at sports, and while I don’t doubt it happens, I find such an idea totally baffling. (Not to mention, don’t many districts/states age kids out of high school sports at 19? I know we had a big lawsuit in our state a few years ago because a student who Down Syndrome who was on the basketball team turned 19 before his senior year and was told he was ineligible to play. I think the lawsuit found that special needs students could continue to play until 20 or 21, but the prohibition on sports participation for students who were 19 before the school year started stood.) Are there actually states where 20 year old seniors are allowed to participate in high school athletics?

    The parents I know who delay academics until the later 5s or 6 tend to either homeschool or have their kids in hippie private schools, so I just don’t think their motivation is academic advantage. It’s philosophical. They believe that children are best left to engage in free play and exploration until 5 or 6, instead of structured academics. While that may be a debatable position, it’s certainly one with some validity.

    And, delaying academics a bit doesn’t necessarily mean a child will spend a year behind forever. I pulled my son from kindergarten after two months. It was a charter school, and it absolutely was a “seat work for hours” kind of setting. It was a horrible fit for him, a child who probably wasn’t ready for full-day school at all at 5, much less a full day of mostly seat work. I spent his K-2 years homeschooling him in a very low-key way (maybe 1-2 hours of school a day, focused on the basics). But, at 10 and at his current rate of academic progress, my husband and I suspect he will probably be ready for community college classes in at least some of his subject by 14 or 15, which we would not discourage. In fact, we’d love for him to spend his last couple of years of high school doing community college work and earning an associate’s degree, and then taking a year or two to work and gain some life experience, if that’s something he wanted, before deciding on a college to finish his degree and a future career.

    So in many cases I think the issue is less academic advantage in a competitive sense and more what is best for the individual child academically. I’m sure there are exceptions, and maybe in affluent suburbs parents spend a lot of time worrying about how their kids can outscore or outperform the other kids. But for the parents I know it really is more about educational philosophy (the parents I know who delay academics until 6 think that all or at least most kids should do so, not that everybody else should start kindy at 5 but their kid should start at 6 for an advantage) and trying to meet the needs of their individual child.

  117. Maribel June 10, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    July 31st birthday here and if I had dime for every time they told me that he was immature in kindergarten and first grade, I would be rich. REALLY? He is immature? HE is FIVE!!! To make matters worse, he was not only compared to the kids who were a few months older but kids who were a whole year older because of the redshirting. At some point, my child matured and he is thriving in high school. He would have been bored to death if I had held him back. Do we really want them still in high school well into the age of majority?

  118. Maribel June 10, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    Age five is the NORMAL age for kindergarten. Period. If it is too hard for the child to sit still, then the program is at fault.

  119. Wendy W June 10, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    “Age five is the NORMAL age for kindergarten. Period. If it is too hard for the child to sit still, then the program is at fault.”

    AMEN, Maribel! Unfortunately, parents don’t have the luxury of changing the program, and the schools are moving in the opposite direction. So we red-shirt, or homeschool, or go with private schools, or some combination thereof. I wish the schools would look to places like Finland for ideas, but too many parents here are too happy for that all-day-free-babysitting to start at age 5, and/or think that THEIR precious genius must start younger.

  120. Brooke June 10, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    I love the free range website. I am a total free range mom. I think one of the ideas of free range is that we all have different ways of parenting. This article struck a cord for me. I have 2 kids with birthdays in September and October. Both are boys. Both were held back. I didn’t “red shirt” them for sports or was I thinking about the future. I held them back because they were immature! Flat out not ready. Can’t stand that people especially on this website would think I did it because I am a helicopter mom. I don’t like the helicopter moms judging me because I let my kids play and play freely, but I am really upset when people I felt shared similar ideas think I am a helicopter mom.

  121. Lauren June 10, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    Redshirting is not what it’s cracked up to be. While it may seem logical that giving your child an extra year to develop and mature will ultimately lead to more confidence and stronger performance, let the statistics speak for themselves:

    “While earlier studies have argued that redshirted children do better both socially and academically—citing data on school evaluations, leadership positions, and test scores—more recent analyses suggest that the opposite may well be the case: the youngest kids, who barely make the age cutoff but are enrolled anyway, ultimately end up on top—not their older classmates.”


    These kids have to work hard to keep up and it is work ethic, not maturity or intelligence, that will best serve them in life. Not to mention, the extra year of earning potential. May not seem like much, but it can add up to big $$ over the course of their lifetimes.

  122. heather June 10, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

    Loved this. I hear about parents “red shirting” all the time. The reasons are completely selfish.
    Just ask the kid who is the oldest to graduate from High school how they feel. Ask how it felt to take drivers ed when they were 17? Two of my brothers were put into a “Transitioning” program and they have major regret and resentment…
    Let your kids grow up! Parenting children is just a temporary job…If you disagree your a helicopter parent.

  123. SOA June 10, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

    I do agree that the problem mostly lies with how they are pushing kids to learn more faster. I am more a fan of a half day play structured kindergarten. But that is what preschool pretty much is now.

    I absolutely know people who hold their kids back for sports. They will straight up admit it. This is the south. Sports are king here.

  124. Bronte June 10, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

    I’m in New Zealand. Here the law states that children must be in schooling from 6-16. Tradition and convention mean that nearly everyone starts on their birthday or the first school day after it. Kindergarten here is pre-school and still comes under the Early Childhood Education curriculum, and not provided by schools.

    On starting school kids generally go into a New Entrant class. I was only in that class for a couple of months before I was moved up. I am a youngest child from a family of readers so I was pretty much reading already, through inclination, by then.

    My son is 2 1/4. He’ll start school on or around his 5th birthday. Most primary schools in NZ, including the two we’ll likely choose between (based on location and family logistics, not academics) run 9am-3pm with 20-30 minutes break midmorning (10.30ish) and an hours lunch and play around 12. Part of lesson time will be games outside. Part of it will be mat time, part of it is arts and crafts. He’ll be fine.

    Incidentally, when I got to High School our school banded. Of ten classes in the Year 9 intake, 2 were “top” or accellerant classes. We had a disproportionate number of “young” kids in those classes, presumably because we had worked hard to catch up then just kept working.

  125. Donna June 10, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    I just don’t see this issue as vital as sooooooo many here want to make it. Good grief, the human species is not so sensitive that there is a split second where everyone MUST start school or perish forever intellectually inferior.

    There is a small portion of kids who are slower to develop school readiness. This group skews boy and close to the cut-off for basic human development reasons. Starting those kids too early is detrimental to their education. For everyone else, it really doesn’t matter one iota whether you start school at 4, 5, 6 or 7. Or whether you read at 4, 5, 6 or 7. There is no magic number that holds anyone’s scholastic achievement in the balance.

    I find it very interesting that this group is generally so very “no one decision greatly effects any child’s life” except when it comes to this issue and then it must be absolutely perfect.

    Red shirt. Don’t red shirt. Start school at 4. Wait until 7. Teach reading in kindergarten. Wait until 6. None are magic barometers of success for most children. In the end, your kids are going to be as smart as they are going to be; they are going to achieve what they are going to achieve; they are going to have the work ethic that they are going to have; they are going to have the social network they are going to have; etc. and none of this is based on the age that they learned any particular anything.

  126. JP Merzetti June 10, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    Academics has become the new religion.
    Not because we’re all so wonderfully in thrall with pure intellectualism, not by a long shot.
    But rather, because of the high-stress steriod-on-wheels high-anxiety belief that academic prefection precludes starving in the gutter, languishing in utter inability to comsume like the champions we are, or otherwise claim the national birthright: diminishing returns on a diminishing middle class.
    And to dump all that angst on a 5 year-old is a dirty rotten damned shame.

    On the other end of the stick – I’d agree somewhat – perfectly natural for parents to want some inclusion into what they’re paying for.
    But college aged kids not learning how to do this for themselves? I beg to differ.
    My generation wasn’t that much smarter at all.
    Just a tad more free.
    (to make mistakes, granted….and then learn from them.)
    Since when has this little item become a “luxury” we can no longer afford?

  127. k June 10, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    Heather said: “Loved this. I hear about parents “red shirting” all the time. The reasons are completely selfish.
    Just ask the kid who is the oldest to graduate from High school how they feel. Ask how it felt to take drivers ed when they were 17? Two of my brothers were put into a “Transitioning” program and they have major regret and resentment…
    Let your kids grow up! Parenting children is just a temporary job…If you disagree your a helicopter parent.”

    Why would you have to wait until 17 to take drivers ed? Where I live, drivers ed was cut from the curriculum in the late 80s. Everyone takes it through private companies as soon as they are old enough and can afford it, regardless of what grade you are in.

    I was at the younger end of my class and I absolutely hated that all my friends got their license before me. I’ve had this discussion with many people and only one regretted holding her child back a year, while many more regretted not waiting the extra year.

    I was at home with mine at that age too, and my son did have a slight fine motor delay. Being able to be at home with him meant we could do things to work on that delay that were play based, instead of starting him in school at 5 and then having to do occupational therapy, which is what happened to the child of a friend. He is a bright child but didn’t have the motor skills to cut with scissors or even write his name legibly. It made much more sense to take advantage of my ability to be at home instead of spending money on therapy so he could start at the “right” age.

    It seems to me that if a significant portion of children are developmentally unable to handle the curriculum, then the curriculum is at fault. But what school is going to go “backwards,” as it were? That’s why some school districts have moved the cutoff to late May. The youngest kids in the class will be at least 5year and 3 months.

  128. Peter June 10, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    The apartment thing is interesting.

    Part of what perks up my ears is things like the parents making the initial calls and filling out the forms. Yeah, I’d be the first one to say that I wouldn’t co-sign on a lease without viewing the property and talking to the lessor. But I’d still expect the kid to actually call initially and fill out the forms–maybe with Mom and Dad’s help.

  129. Beverly June 10, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    Wow. I’m just checking in for the day, and realizing I must really be living under a rock. In my defense, I do live in a rural area, surrounded by them. I had no idea this subject would touch such a nerve when I wrote to Lenore. I whole-heatedly believe my son is ready and capable of taking on Kindergarten. The point of my post was that many others were quick to judge that decision based soley on the fact that he’s a boy born in July. I wouldn’t judge anyone who felt their child wasn’t ready. I do wonder about those who seem to be doing it with the idea that they are giving their child an edge over all the others by making them the oldest in the class.

    However, to me, disagreeing over the appropriateness of Kindergarten for a barely 5 year old seems petty compared to the fact that there are college graduates out there, with jobs and credit scores, who are still unable to find and lease their own apartment.

  130. Stacy June 10, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    As with many parenting decisions, it’s best to determine what works for your child, not feel pressured to “red-shirt” or not “red-shirt.” My late summer birthday boy was ready academically and developmentally for what was then a half-day of school. People told us we were making the wrong decision because he was short for his age and quiet. He is still one of the smallest boys in his class, but that does not matter at all. He is doing very well academically, socially, and emotionally. He has great friends that he wouldn’t have met had he stayed back a year. I don’t regret the decision. It was the right one for him.

    But I don’t think it’s necessarily the right decision for every late birthday child, especially now that kindergarten is full day here. My youngest daughter, who is very independent, struggled a little with following school rules all day long. She just didn’t see why she HAD to sit criss-cross applesauce, if she was sitting and listening. The first few weeks, she kept telling me that there were so many rules, although she loved the social aspects of school. It would be better for everyone if kindergarten was more relaxed and fun. So I completely understand why someone would wait a year to send their child, or skip kindergarten entirely.

    The overinvolved parents of adults is much more disturbing. It’s not that they had to co-sign a lease or that they offered advice when asked. Instead, they took control over choosing and renting the apartment, as if their adult children could not perform basic adult tasks on their own.

  131. Nic June 10, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    Readiness for school is about being socially and emotionally mature. The school aren’t the experts on your child, your child’s preschool teacher and you are. Being the youngest boy in the class can be a factor, but it’s not the only factor to consider. Not sure what redshirting means really, it’s not a term we use in Australia. We call it a bonus year, time to mature and be ready. If your child isn’t ready a second year of prep or kindergarten as called in America is not the ideal start for a child.

  132. hineata June 10, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

    As Bronte says, we traditionally start our kids on their fifth birthdays, so don’t have this issue in the same way. Kids don’t have to go to school till they’re six, but you seldom get anyone keeping their kid at home – maybe because all the other kindy kids are heading there too.

    We still have a form of ‘cut-off’ issue in that each school has a cutoff for whether kids stay in the ‘new entrant’ class or move on to the next class, which will be their year grouping through the rest of their schooling. The first school I worked at had March 31st as their cutoff, other schools have had up to the end of June. Hence by the time you hit intermediate you do get kids nearly fifteen months apart in the same year group at school. This is helpful academically for the kids who are ready, and not so great for the kids who are not. However in general it is the school that decides – parents might get some input, but most don’t seem to worry too much.

    As for the lease thing, when I moved out of home at 16 my parents were required to sign everything, including for my checkbook account (not each check, just the fact that I could have one at all :-)). I wasn’t amazingly mature at that age, just in a position where I had to leave home for further education, so it was probably just as well they did.

    It did set me up well for the future though, as by eighteen I had the experience to sign leases etc myself. Am not sure my seventeen year old will be as ready, but then he may not be in a position to move on anyway – different life circumstances.

  133. Lisie Aartsen June 10, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    We need to stop labeling and judging a parent’s choices in a negative way. Think your kid is not ready for Kinder? Wait a year. Want to push your kid early? Do it. Whatever works for you. We should be able to be free range parents too.

  134. Beth June 10, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    “The author may want to rethink “trend” and start researching child development.”

    So the author believes her child is ready for kindgergarten, and screeners at the school believe he is ready. But she should ignore all that (specifically her knowledge of HER OWN CHILD gained over the last 5 years) and research general child development instead, and make her decision based on that research? Boy, not only do we think kids are incompetent, some of us must think parents are incompetent as well.

  135. SOA June 10, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    I is the motivation behind holding them back that sometimes seems suspect. Like my friends that said at age 3 they were redshirting. Like making that decision way in advance! And their kids are very smart and well behaved so there is probably zero reason they were not ready at 5. Or the people that say they are not ready to be away from their baby yet. Or the people that say their son is short and they are worried he will get picked on. Or the people that want to give their kid an advantage so they are the smartest or maturest even though their child would have been fine going at 5 just maybe not the star student.

    Those are motivations I am going to raise my eyebrows at. Those are not good reasons. Holding a child back because they have severe behavioral issues or maturity issues. Holding a child back because they have delays. Holding a kid back because there was a recent death in the family so the child is having emotional issues. Those are good reasons.

    The thing is I don’t hear much of the good reasons. I hear a ton of the suspect reasons. They will straight up admit it is because they want their kid to be the smartest, most well behaved, best at sports, oldest, tallest and that is stupid. We have got to stop making childhood a constant freaking competition.

  136. anonymous mom June 10, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    I don’t think the concern is with a young adult needing a lease co-signed. That happens. Hell, I know adults who, due to credit problems, need a parent or sibling or relative to co-sign a loan. And, at the point at which the co-signing is going to happen, of course it makes sense for the co-signer to see what they are getting into.

    But that’s not what’s going on. It’s not that these young adults are finding apartments, checking them out, finding out they need a co-signer, and then at that point getting their parents involved. Their parents are taking over the whole thing, with the young adult tagging along like a child.

    It doesn’t surprise me. In just the 12 years or so I’ve been teaching college, the amount of hand-holding my students seem to require at every level of their academic work has increased dramatically. It’s like they have no idea how to try to figure something out for themselves and then take a little risk. By the time they get into my classes, especially my upper-level class, they should, IMO, be in a position where they are really taking nearly all of the responsibility for their education and I’m there to provide guidance and feedback. Instead, I get seniors about to graduate who want hand-outs detailing exactly what they need to do at every single step of a project, and then a video to talk them through the hand-out, and ideally a meeting so I can walk them individually through each step. It’s rare now for me to get a student who will read through the material, read through the assignment, take a risk and try to do the assignment, and then ask me for feedback after they’d put some effort in on their own, instead of expecting to basically be personally tutored through each and every stage of a project.

  137. Liz June 10, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    I agree with so much of what you say and I would call myself a free range parent so much so that I have alienated a few folks with my kids can do it on their own attitude. However, I feel lucky that I was able to give my son another year to get ready for school. He is a late August Birthday and our school cut off is Sept. 1 so he could have went and been one of the youngest, if not the youngest in his class. It was obviously to my husband and I that he was not emotionally ready for school and being the youngest could be very detrimental to him. Call it what you like, We are glad we did what we did for him.

  138. JKP June 10, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

    When I started college, my parents helped me unload my stuff from the car, hugged me goodbye, and left. So did all the other parents. All the orientation activities the school scheduled were for the students only.

    Now, less than 10 years later at the same college, parents were tagging along for all the orientation activities to the point that the college actually had to start scheduling an official parent goodbye ceremony so they could basically force the parents to actually leave before the normal orientation activities could begin.

  139. hineata June 10, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

    @JKP -Oh Lawdy, I cannot imagine parents wanting to tag along to the ‘orientation’ activities that occurred at our uni – actually any NZ uni. They were basically drunken parties with slight variations in title day-by-day. I already had an active social life in town by the time I went to an actual uni, so confess I didn’t even go myself.

    What sort of activities did you guys get up to, that parents can join in? The mind boggles….

  140. Jenny R. June 10, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

    To me, it seems this whole argument boils down to what your definition of free-range is. For some people the term free-range seems to mean allowing children a lot of unstructured time to play and explore, not being competitive about abilities, not trying to raise a super-human child prodigy, etc. These people are more likely to approve of red-shirting because it gives their child an extra year to be free.

    For other people, myself included, free-range means more than free time. It means allowing children to struggle, to meet challenges, to fail. It means not only trusting that our kids aren’t in constant danger, but also trusting in your child’s ability to survive, and learn from, challenges they will face in an imperfect world. It means allowing them to make mistakes and learn to keep going. These parents are more likely to disapprove of red-shirting.

    In my experience a parent is not always the best judge of what their child is ready for. I think parents are too close their children to see them objectively. And it’s not like we don’t have a vested interest in keeping them back. What parent doesn’t feel the urge to red-shirt their kid’s childhood? I was terrified to send my son to kindergarten. It felt like throwing my baby to the wolves. Like all kindergarteners, he struggled to adapt to the expectations of a school environment. That’s the point of kindergarten. It’s the entry level class. If a child is prepared for kindergarten then they probably don’t need it.

    I think of it as something like becoming a new parent. No one can ever really be prepared. You get sent home with the baby, freak out a little (or a lot), and then struggle to figure it out. That’s life. That’s what kindergarten prepares you for.

    And the whole idea of kindergarteners sitting for six hours in a seat is ridiculous. Anybody who has spent time around that age group knows the only possible way to get them to sit still for that many hours in a day would be to literally chain them to their seats. Teachers aren’t stupid. They aren’t going to make their jobs more difficult by expecting the impossible.

  141. SKL June 11, 2014 at 12:43 am #

    Being against redshirting does not equal being OK with KG not being age appropriate for the age range it is supposed to serve.

    Rampant redshirting is a big reason why some school systems design KG to cater to older kids.

    The comment that “teachers can tell who the youngest kids are” is often heard. But so what? Is that supposed to be concerning? The problem is not that young kids are young. It’s that some teachers / school systems don’t want to deal with / accommodate young kids. Isn’t that actually illegal? I think parents should get together and hold schools to what they were supposed to do. Not make it easier for them to ignore the needs of the age group they are supposed to be serving.

  142. SKL June 11, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    And I am skeptical of the whole “playing in the mud all year is a better learning experience for a five-year-old.” When my kids were tots, I was all about having them spend hours every day outdoors, examining every little thing with all of their senses. That is intellectually stimulating for a toddler. Some of it is valuable for a preschooler. But at some point, unstructured examination of the environment in which a kid lives has diminishing returns. At some point hours and hours per day, all year long is a waste of time. For most kids, the opportunity to experience all kinds of new academic and social experiences away from home is more valuable around age 5.

    Sure, there are some kids who are on a slower time table. Fine and dandy. But the near 100% redshirting I see around me (both sexes) isn’t about that. Those kids, by the way, are not making mud pies all day in any event. They are attending academic pre-K and probably learning to read.

  143. Karon June 11, 2014 at 1:28 am #

    Maybe it’s because I live in a low-income state, where school is a welcome relief from the expense of daycare (or the burden on family members), but I don’t see much redshirting locally.

    I sent my youngest son, whose birthday is 2 weeks before the cutoff date, to school at the scheduled time. I sent my oldest son, whose birthday is 8 weeks after the cutoff date, to school on time. Yes, they have different experiences in school. But they are also very different kids, and polar opposites of each other in many ways. My youngest would have had some difficulty no matter when we sent him; my oldest would not have had any difficulty at all had we sent him a year early (assuming that was an option).

    When you’re making the decision for the benefit of the child, great. When you’re making it based on whether they will be as good in school or sports as their friends, it’s time to re-evaluate your reasoning.

  144. bmommyx2 June 11, 2014 at 3:02 am #

    While I agree with most of what you said it is not always that simple & there are other reasons. Where I live they use the term “The gift of the extra year”. Personally I don’t care for that term & I realized early on it was partly fueled by preschools who possibly wanted to retain the kids in their school for longer, helicopter parents, parent anxiety about separation & true need to wait. My oldest also had a late birthday & I first learned of this trend in Mommy & me class when he was just a baby. What got me was parents who had already made the decision when their kids were just babies. I never had any intention of holding my son back (what I call it), but I did. The reason I did was that in addition to having a speech delay, he was a bit reserved and fearful, he had difficulty separating & paying attention. He was doing so well having fun at his play based preschool, but not at all interested or ready to learn the academics. As it turns out he is not the oldest & there is a large number of kids his age in his class. He struggled all through kindergarten & now in first, so I know for him I made the right decision. It amazes me how many parents keep their kids back from starting pre-school or kindergarten as a way of keeping them young and or at home. Regarding your comments about the rentals I think it’s more complex than red-shirting. I think that many parents feel if they are paying for something then it’s theirs & they want to control everything. My grandparents were that way with my mom when she got married. Their money, their say. I think it’s great that parents are able to help their kids financially, but they should help not pay for everything & not do all the work. I have worked with these type of kids, they are lazy & don’t want to do anything or can’t do anything. They can’t function in the real world. When I was a teenager I worked with a boy who’s mother brought him food for his break & if there were any issues she would take it up with our boss, the manager.

  145. Susan L June 11, 2014 at 3:28 am #

    Years ago I almost went crazy worrying that I should have held my son, who had a May birthday, back a year. He was always the youngest boy in the class, was diagnosed with ADHD, and had a hard time fitting in, so when we moved when he was in 4th grade I had him repeat the 4th grade at his new school. It was a terrifying decision and kept me up at night. Fast forward 9 years …He just graduated from high school and I can say without a doubt that holding him back a grade was the best thing for him. He didn’t graduate with honors or an athletic scholarship, but he did graduate with self esteem, lots of friends, and a track record of success.

  146. Margot June 11, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    Gosh, I’ve never heard of this “redshirting”, but apparently that’s what I did on the advice of her pre-school teacher, who said my daughter was too quiet and shy to progress to school with her pre-school peers. Anyway, I figured she’d have the advantage of being smarter and more capable if she was an older one. Well, yep. Turns out both that “shy” and “emotionally immature” and not synonymous. Yes, she was smarter and more capable, but I worked out pretty quickly that there’s more to life. She was too old for her peers and wasn’t getting anything out of school socially. Not surprising, given that her peers were up to a year younger than her. When she finally went into a year 3/4 composite class as a year 3 student, she finally found her people. The teacher noticed too, and insisted she skip year 4 and go straight to year 5 with her new friends. So, she’s not the smartest kid anymore (pretty average really), but she’s popular and happy and confident, and participates in everything that’s on offer. As for the idea that she would have an opportunity to be a leader if she was older than the others, wrong again. She is the school captain this year, and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have been if she’d stayed back. Now all the other girls are getting acne and periods etc at the same time as her. Phew! The best thing though, is that she can’t wait to start high school with all her besties next year.

  147. SOA June 11, 2014 at 8:30 am #

    I 100% agree SKL and that is exactly what I did. My son that is the top of his class academically even though those kids are 2 years older than him in some cases, did get in trouble for behavior things now and again. Because he was being held to a standard not appropriate for a 6 year old. He was being treated like a 7/8 year old. And I absolutely went over there and bitched about it to administration. I told them they need to keep in mind he is the youngest in the class so they need to use discretion and think about that. Is his behavior that bad for a 6 year old? If so, then punish away. If it is not, then let it freaking go.

    He was getting in trouble for the most petty things like talking in the bathroom, not standing perfectly still and straight in a line walking down the hall, getting bored after he finished his work super fast and was given nothing else to do so then he started talking or playing. That stuff is petty. Especially when I told the teacher she needs to have extra work to give him when he finishes super early or he will start acting up.

    It is not his fault he is the youngest and the smartest. I will do this again this year and make it clear to his new teacher what I expect and I won’t tolerate him getting in trouble for petty stuff.

  148. Katie S June 11, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    Posted by SOA: “The thing is I don’t hear much of the good reasons. I hear a ton of the suspect reasons. They will straight up admit it is because they want their kid to be the smartest, most well behaved, best at sports, oldest, tallest and that is stupid.”

    Have you even *read* any of these comments? I have not seen one person say they held their child back because of any of the reasons you just quoted! They all had good reasons, such as wanting their child to be able to DO the work required without it being a constant struggle for the child!

    Good for those of you with children who have not had to struggle through each and every assignment they get in school…but not all kids automatically “get it” like that. It’s a terrible feeling as a parent to watch your child struggle with schoolwork, when he/she is so depressed and down on himself because he thinks he’s “dumb” compared to everyone else in the class. Holding a child back a year may be the best decision in the world.

    Maybe we need to butt out of others’ decisions.

  149. Michelle June 11, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    Meh. On the one hand, I think that “redshirting” as a way to give your precious snowflake every possible advantage in kindergarten is ridiculous on its face. However:

    1. When I was in school, you had to be 5 by September 1st to enter kindergarten. Now, in my district, school starts in August and kindergarteners don’t have to be 5 until December. That results in kids who are barely 4 1/2 starting kindergarten, which I find a bit much.

    2. Kindergarten around here seems to be much more academic than it used to be. When my mom started kindergarten, she wasn’t expected to know *anything* yet. When I started, we were expected to know our ABCs and 123s, and though I personally was reading by then, I still enjoyed it. A bit more than a decade ago, I taught preschool. My whole job was “kindergarten readiness,” which amounted to making 4 year olds sit at tables and do worksheets when they’d much rather (and have been better off) playing, singing songs, running around, etc. Apparently now it’s even worse, as my friends stress about the reading levels of their 3 year olds. 🙁

    3. Everybody says that, after a few years, you can’t tell which kids were “redshirted” (or went to a challenging preschool, or whatever). I don’t see how that’s an argument in favor of 4 year olds going to kindergarten if the parents don’t feel they are ready. If a kid who is ready to learn to read at 7 will do just as well later in life as the kid who learned to read at 4, what exactly is the problem with letting the late bloomer have that extra time? As a homeschooler, I have had much more success teaching a kid a skill when they were ready for it, rather than trying to force it into their head when they weren’t.

    That said, if a kid *is* ready for kindergarten, why on earth would you hold him back??

  150. Diane June 11, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    I have never heard of the term “red shirting”. It makes my blood boil that adults are categorizing these young children. That’s right. Give the bully’s another reason to pick on a kid that is already emotionally immature and lacking confidence. Good job “grown-ups”! You’re the same people who would be appalled if someone were to criticize your parenting decisions. Glass houses people…

  151. SteveS June 11, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    “Have you even *read* any of these comments? I have not seen one person say they held their child back because of any of the reasons you just quoted! They all had good reasons, such as wanting their child to be able to DO the work required without it being a constant struggle for the child!”

    -Katie S

    I did mention that I know about a half dozen people that flat out admitted they held back for an athletic advantage. I know you don’t know me and will just have to take me at my word, but it does happen. Most of the parents that comment here are intelligent and seem to be good people, so I wouldn’t expect them to be fans of redshirting for stupid reasons.

  152. anonymous mom June 11, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    If somebody wants to send their kid to kindy at 4 or 5, whatever. That’s fine. But I don’t understand the insistence that going to kindy at 5 is the best choice for nearly all kids. What evidence is there for that? We know that in a number of countries with far better educational outcomes than we have, students begin school at 6 or 7; clearly, not starting at 5 is not a detriment there. As far as I know, schools that delay academics until age 6 are not producing worse students. Again, if somebody chooses to send their child to school at 4-1/2 or 5, that’s fine, but the idea that there’s something wrong with either a child who isn’t ready for full-day academic school at 5 or with parents who would prefer to wait until their child is 6 is just wrong.

    Schools vary. It would be lovely if kindergarten was indeed where students learned the behavioral norms of school. In fact, when we pulled our son from kindy, my husband and I had this exact conversation. The problem was that the school he was in had nearly all of the students coming from two years of full-day Head Start programs, which were heavily geared toward school readiness. My son, who was coming from part-time play-based pre-school at 2 and 3, and then no preschool at 4, may very well have thrived in a kindergarten classroom that was more geared toward socializing students into the norms of school, but the expectation of the school he attended was that students would already have those skills. He didn’t, and it was a very stressful experience for both him and me (and, I’m sure, his teacher!). We actually looked around for a half-day kindergarten program that would be a bit more focused on play and school readiness, but we could not find one in our city, where the norm is for kids to have come out of two years of full-day Head Start.

    This is not unusual, especially in areas where students are seen as “at-risk.” A nearby preschool my son attended for one year actually changed, about 5 years before he started attending, from a Montessori preschool to following a Head Start model, because kindergarten teachers at the local elementary school were complaining that the kids from this Montessori school were not coming in able to 1) sit quietly for seatwork and 2) write their letters, which were apparently things students were expected to come into kindy knowing how to do (but which I don’t think many 4 or 5 year olds will do naturally). To meet the expectations of the local schools, the preschool moved to a more academic model.

    So I’m not going to fault any parent who believes that their child is not ready for kindergarten at 5, especially in areas where kindergarten is not an “introduction” to school but the start of a full-day of formal academic work. I was fortunate that, since I work part-time, I could do kindergarten with my 5 year old at home. But, if that wasn’t an option for me, I would have either postponed kindy for a year or have just put him directly into first grade when he was 6 (although that’s an option I don’t think many parents are aware they have, and that probably many schools aren’t aware is available to parents, either).

    The issue seems to be less what age students start school but what kind of school they will be starting. In my area, you cannot find half-day play-based kindergarten programs (which were the norm a generation ago). Perhaps in more affluent areas public schools will provide gentle kindergarten programs that would be appropriate for a 5 year old who has either been home up until that point or in part-time play-based preschools, but in areas where kids are seen as “at-risk,” the focus is on academic readiness from a very, very early age, and what that translates into in most cases is full days of school and lots of seat work. The expectation, again, is that these kids have already done at least a year of full-time preschool, if not two, and so kindergarten teachers are NOT expecting to have to socialize students into the norms of a classroom. There are many reasons why some students–perhaps many–would not do well in that sort of classroom at 4-1/2 or 5.

    There’s a difference between underestimating kids and having inappropriate expectations. For some students–a group that probably includes more boys than girls–entering a full-day academic kindergarten at 5 is going to be developmentally inappropriate, especially if they have not been in a preschool focused on classroom readiness. Personally, I don’t think preschool should be a prerequisite for kindergarten–kindergarten instruction should be designed so that students coming in from a non-preschool background or a part-time play-based preschool background can still thrive–but increasingly it seems to be, especially if a child is going to be ready for the expectations of full-day academics-based kindergarten. In those cases, waiting one more year will probably help many students, especially boys, develop the self-control and fine motor skills they will need to meet the expectations placed on them.

  153. anonymous mom June 11, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    Oh, and similarly, while I think delaying school entry for sports reasons is stupid, at least part of the blame lies not with the parents but with the move to ultra-competitive sports teams from very early ages. If a child does love sports, and a parent feels that is something that is important to their child’s life, but the structure of the sports program is such that if the child isn’t, even in elementary school, among the top players then there won’t be room for them, I can see why a parent would consider allowing their child an extra year to grow and further develop their motor skills.

    Is that giving a child an unfair advantage? Maybe. I don’t know. Again, I think it’s a dumb reason to delay school entry. But, it’s a result of sports programs that are too high-pressure and high-stakes too early, which seems to be the root of the problem.

  154. Wendy W June 11, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    “Ask how it felt to take drivers ed when they were 17?”

    Does your district offer it according to grade level instead of age? Our district offers it to the kids who are 14.5 and up. The reasoning is that they will get their permit when they turn 15, and have an entire year on the permit before they can get their license. My soon-to-be 9th-grader 14yo is taking Driver’s Ed this summer.

    Here, some districts offer DE, others don’t. Either way, it’s not a part of the school day. It’s done in the evenings or summer. If you take it through the district they still get high school credit for it.

  155. SOA June 11, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Our school did do driver’s ed for all sophmores who signed up for it. So yes, you could be 17 with this redshirting epidemic and be taking driver’s ed.

  156. anonymous mom June 11, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Yeah, I don’t think students are going to find anything traumatic about being 18 their senior year, and honestly that’s the norm for many students and always has been. In very few cases are we talking about students who will be 19 for much of their senior year, if any at all, and I don’t see any way in which “red-shirting” could result in a person being 20 and a senior unless their parents delayed school entry for two years or they entered at like 6-1/2 and then were held back a year.

    I was born a few days after the cut-off date for kindergarten entry. My parents could have chosen to have me tested for kindergarten readiness so I could enter early and turn 5 in November of kindergarten, as some of their friends with kids with similar birthdays did, but they didn’t. So I turned 6 very early on in my kindergarten year, and was on the older end of the age range of students in my grade.

    It honestly never was a problem or even anything I thought about, except that it was fun to be one of the first of my friends to get a driver’s license. I’ve seen some comments about it somehow being a problem for students to be adults for most or all of their senior year, but nearly everybody in my grade turned 18 at some point during their senior year; turning 18 in the fall rather than the winter or spring was just not a big deal. Turning 18 the summer before would not have been a big deal.

    I mean, I think the biggest issue is that parents who are “red-shirting” with the hope of academic or sports advantage are probably going to find that it won’t work out as they hope. And, I think parents who start their kids early, or at the “ideal” age, whatever they think that is, with the same hope, will also be disappointed. In the end, whether a child graduates at 17 or 19 is not going to matter very much at all.

    It seems to me this is a decision that should be made based on the child’s needs and development at the moment–at 4/5/6, are they ready for the kindergarten programs available to them?–and not on future hopes. Your kid you started in kindy at 6 in the hopes they would play high school football may never grow taller than 5’7″ anyway. Your kid you started at 4 because they showed academic promise might end up leveling out with their peers by 8 or 9. So the problem seems to be parents thinking they can somehow control long-term outcomes by putting their child into kindergarten at just the right age, instead of looking at the current needs of their child.

  157. SOA June 11, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    katie: dear obviously you are the one not reading the comments. Hello I have a son with autism. He struggles every single day in school. He is at the bottom of his class and has been suspended multiple times. I still think he needed to be in school because autism does not go away the older you get.

    So yes, I know better than anyone LOL what it is like to watch your child struggle in school. Funny.

    I am not referring to these comments. I am referring to people I see and speak to every day in real life and they absolutely admit they redshirt for the stupid reasons I gave. I pretty much made that clear when I posted that these were from people I know who told me this point blank to my face and they were proud of said facts. Which to me is a shame.

  158. librarian June 11, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    Wow, so much doom and gloom in the comments – we must have been lucky. In NYC the K-grade cut-off date is Dec. 31st, I have a mid-October kid – but I never even considered another year of paying insane NYC childcare prices. Having said that, their homework package was on weekly basis (and that’s a district G&T, so, supposedly, more challenging than the regular program), and I never really thought about it, since it was all done in afterschool (the kid needs to hang out someplace while we’re at work anyway)… overall the things were pretty mellow. Lots of “circle time”, the teacher reading books aloud, etc. So I wonder- is there any way parents could influence the school to bring kindergarden program to more age-appropriate standards, rather than shoulder the financial and logistical burden of another pre-school year?

  159. anonymous mom June 11, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    I’m still not seeing how this is going to lead to a lot of 17 year old sophomores.

    In MI, where I live, students must be in school (or homeschooled) if they turn 6 before December 1st of a given school year. You cannot just delay school indefinitely. There is still a relatively small age range at which students may enter kindergarten: the new guidelines are that a student cannot begin kindergarten unless they turn 5 before September 1st of a given school year, but most be enrolled in school if they turn 6 before December 1st. You are getting, at most, like a 16 month age difference between the students who enroll at the earliest possible age and students who enroll at the latest possible age. It’s just not that significant.

  160. SKL June 11, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    One of my kids has to work very hard to keep up in school, but unlike a lot of people, I think that is a GOOD thing. I see her developing into a person with a tremendous work ethic AND great self-esteem, because she approaches hard things with a much better attitude than kids who aren’t used to things being hard. And she gets it done. And there’s really nothing like pride in a tough job well done.

    My kids are in math camp this week. Last year they loved it, so I signed them up again. This year, one of my kids says it is hard, and she isn’t thrilled that she is the last person to finish some tasks. I told her to think of it like running really fast. (She loves to run.) You love to run really fast because it feels great to push yourself to the limit. Math can be the same way. Challenge is a good thing.

    I also told her that whenever I am trying to learn a new concept, I think of it in terms of something I really like. In your case, you could practice a new math concept by thinking of horse examples. For example, three stalls, two ponies in each stall, three times two is six. A while later she said, “I think I will try that.” Good attitude, something that will make for a good future IMO.

    Honestly, I worry more about my other kid who almost never has to work hard. She abhors writing because it doesn’t come easily. She will do anything to get out of it. Not great.

    Some of that you can’t control. My smarter kid was 7 in January and is going into 3rd grade. So I certainly didn’t set her up to have an easy time. I do require her to do some physical stuff, which does not come easy to her. She is one of the slowest runners etc. That is good for her. At least she has an opportunity to learn that even when something is hard or even impossible for you, life still goes on.

    I don’t understand protecting a child of any age from this. Toddlers are totally used to this mindset. Try again 100 times even if you fall on your nose half of the time. That is normal. So why is it considered a problem at school?

    I know there are kids who would simply not be able to benefit from mainstream school because of serious issues. I don’t deny this, but the % of kids being held back is way, way too high for this to be the main reason, at least in communities like mine.

  161. anonymous mom June 11, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    @SOA, nobody is claiming that 1) parents should delay school entry indefinitely (we’re talking about a year here) or that 2) delaying school entry will cure the problems of children with special needs.

    But, some kids don’t have special needs; they are just kind of immature. My oldest is like that. He was a hyper, immature 5 year old, as some kids that age are. And, he’s still on the more hyper/immature end of the spectrum for kids his age, although obviously at 10 that is much less immature and hyper than he was at 5. It’s tough. If we didn’t have the ability to homeschool, school would be a hard fit. Behaviorally, he’d probably do better in a classroom with kids a year younger. Academically, he would probably be better off a grade or two ahead. Parents need to weigh the pros and cons of the limited options available to them.

    I think our basic premises, though, should be that 1) Nearly all parents care a lot about their children, more than strangers on the internet do; 2) Nearly all parents want what is best for their child, more than strangers on the internet do; and 3) Nearly all parents are better equipped to make decisions for their child than anybody else is, including strangers on the internet. This applies to when a child should start kindergarten as well as to when a child is ready to walk to school alone or how long a child can be safely left home alone.

  162. Tracy June 11, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    Please don’t assume every family is making that choice for academic or athletic advantage. Every child is different and what is best for one is not what is best for another. My child is highly gifted but has a delay with social skills so, despite the fact that she’s been reading and doing math for years, we made the difficult decision to delay her start so she could catch up socially.

  163. anonymous mom June 11, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    @SKL, again, I’m not sure why you are so sure that delaying kindergarten a year is going to lead to children not being challenged. As noted over and over, in most cases the issues is NOT academics but maturity.

    There is a difference between telling a child to try something they are developmentally capable of doing until they can do it, and demanding a child do something beyond their developmental capacity. It also matters what we are telling the child to try to do.

    The hard thing for many kids–especially boys–in this case is sitting still and being quiet for full days of school that include limited free play and a short recess and a lot of seat work (and that is the norm in some kindergartens). Sure, for most, if they practiced enough, they could do it. But, is that the sort of challenge we all must want our kids to overcome? If we have good reason to believe that, at 6, those behavioral things would come much easier, what is so wrong about letting them take on other challenges, that perhaps the parent believes are more important, at 5?

    I don’t think anybody is saying kids should never do anything hard. The question is simply what hard things we think it’s worth it for our kids to do. Just because something is hard, doesn’t mean we MUST force our kids to do it. There’s plenty of hard stuff I make my kids do, and plenty I don’t. Why not trust that the parent knows which challenges will most benefit their child and which won’t?

  164. Melissa June 11, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    This is weird for me. In Canada (Ontario) we have full-day kindergarten and junior kindergarten. Our cutoff is December 31. My son, as an October baby, started JK at 3 years old. It’s a mixed JK/SK class so he’s got 5 year olds in there as well.

    JK and SK are optional. You don’t have to start them then, and we could have kept him out of school last year. But starting at 4 just meant he’d be in SK without the year of JK – starting him at 4 years old doesn’t give him any advantage over his peers. If I skipped JK AND SK, he’d start in grade one – ie every “normal” child born in 2009 in this province will start first grade in September 2015, whether they’ve had 2, 1, or zero years of kinder.

  165. LisaS June 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    Maybe the ultimate form of this I’ve seen: our new neighbor is a medical resident at the local hospital. Her parents bought her condo for her, and then mom moved to town (from 3 states away) to supervise a gut rehab of what was a pretty nice apartment into something “good enough” (aka crazy spectacular – definitely improving my property values) for her daughter to live in, then bought all new furniture and orchestrated its delivery and placement as well.

    The young woman(and her roommate, and their boyfriends) are nice enough, but … wow. My mom didn’t even do that for my bedroom when I was in junior high.

  166. Beth June 11, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    If the cut off is Sept 1st and the child’s birthday is after that, that’s not the redshirting this article is talking about. If the child has a learning disability or speech issue or something else and a dr, teacher, professional of some kind has said “hey, this kid needs an extra year of preschool” then it is not redshirting. Redshirting is “my daughter still talks like a baby so I’m going to hold her back” and not getting speech therapy. Redshirting is “the cut off is Sept 1st and their bday is in July and they’ll be the youngest in their class”. Redshirting is “my kid turned 5 in April but he still wears a 3T in pants so he’ll be the smallest”. Redshirting is “they’re not ready” when the parent really means they themselves are not ready.

  167. SOA June 11, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    anonymous mom:That is MI though. Here in TN you can delay much longer and people do. There were kids 6 and a half at the start of kindergarten and they turned like 7 in the winter or fall of kindergarten. So you had 7 year olds with 5 year olds.

  168. anonymous mom June 11, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    I’m just not sure how an outsider can determine that it was the parent who was not ready, rather than the child.

    For example, a child who speaks very immaturely might not actually need speech therapy, because they may not have a speech problem or significant speech delay. It’s quite possible that, given six months or a year, they and their speech would mature on its own. Is a parent wrong for not wanting to pathologize a child who might be on the slower end of the normal development continuum and also not wanting to put them into a situation that the parent feels would be more pressure than the child needs?

    Schools have guidelines based on averages, but it’s ultimately up to parents to make these decisions, and that’s okay.

  169. anonymous mom June 11, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    I’m not sure why 7 and 5 year olds in the same classroom is in and of itself a problem; if anything, I think strict age-segregation is more detrimental to children than being in mixed-age classrooms. Yes, if schools start to bend the curriculum to fit 7 year olds, that’s an issue, but it seems to have gone the other way: school curriculum and behavioral expectations started to become age-inappropriate for many five year olds, and parents responded by delaying school entry.

  170. anonymous mom June 11, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    Or, to put it another way, I just don’t think it’s fair to put all the blame on the parents. Schools decided to make kindergarten the new first grade (with full-day programs, much more academic instruction, and higher behavioral expectations). Parents caught on and some responded by sending their kid to kindergarten at the age they would have sent the to first grade.

    If we really think that every child should be starting school at 5, then let’s make sure kindergartens are designed so that every typical 5 year old is going to be able to thrive in the classroom. That will very likely mean offering half-day programs, reducing academic expectations, and providing more time and energy to help students socialize into classroom norms, instead of expecting them to come in knowing what to do at school.

  171. Kristen June 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    I truly believe that children are capable and ready for at least 1/2 day school that teaches 123 and ABC in a play based environment when they are 3. Europe has been doing this for centuries. im also sure that putting children in school this early also helps to identify any learning difficulties early and allow for early intervention which has been proven over and over again to be the best kind of intervention. currently, my 4 and 5 year old boys take a bus to school and have been attending half days since they 3. I havent seen anything scary in their behavior and they seem to be fine and healthy so far. they are also enjoying many (if not all) of the joys of childhood. They havent missed out on learning to ride a bike or running free in a park. 🙂

  172. k June 11, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Technically speaking, waiting until six for a child whose birthday is one day past the cut off is not redshirting, but because my state does allow for testing and exceptions, there were people who felt we should have insisted on that because it was only one day and he could start “at the right age.”

    Both mine attended an extremely affordable preschool that started at age 2 (one morning a week for 90 minutes). The four year old class spends only 6 hours a week there. The program is play based, and the kids do learn things like how to write their names and their letters and numbers, but they also learned large muscle skils like ice skating and rollerskating, and a lot of confidence building activities, like standing up in front of their class to explain how they did their homework (which might be coloring a picture or finding three examples of cylinders in the house…nothing time consuming or difficult). This was plenty of time for both kids to go into full day kindergarten well prepared. It’s not necessary, IMO, for kids to be in full time preschool with heavy academics In order to be ready for K.

    What bothers me is the use of the term redshirting for all of the reasons listed in these comments..speech and motor delays, etc. I have met only one person who said she would have scheduled her c section two weeks earlier so her kid could start at five and she wouldn’t have to pay daycare, and none who have delayed for sports reasons or to give the kid an edge otherwise.

    In any class, someone has to be the youngest and the oldest. It’s up to the parent to decide where their child will fit best.

  173. SKL June 11, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    Anonymous Mom, I’m telling you that in some places at least, like here where I live, parents are not deciding this on a case by case basis based on individual readiness. In a population where 0% (or near 0%) of the kids with summer birthdays enter school on time, and every parent of such kids explains “she has a summer birthday,” there is something else going on.

    And no, this is not about KG really being 1st grade. If anything, KG / primary schools are more kid-friendly than they were when I was little.

    Here’s another view, though. My kids’ daycare had a KG, a charter school connected with the local district. The daycare was owned by an immigrant who strongly believed in challenging kids. The KG recruited a number of younger kids to skip pre-K and go right into KG early. These kids had birthdays from October to December (and eventually they let in my January kid). These young kids ALL learned to read that year, one of the youngest (a boy) always displayed the best behavior in the class, and only one (a girl) displayed behavior that showed a lack of readiness. Nevertheless, some of these kids repeated KG because their parents were talked into the “let him be top of the class” argument.

  174. SKL June 11, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    I always find the argument about driving age amusing. I didn’t get my temps until I was in college (age 16). LOL. I did not care, as I walked to & from school, and I had not the least interest in owning a car.

  175. Donna June 11, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    SKL – I don’t think anyone is saying that children should not be challenged. Frankly, I don’t see that a child is being “challenged” if she is spending weeks learning something at age 4 that she could have learned in minutes at age 5 based upon absolutely nothing other than aging (meaning that she didn’t learn some skill between 4 and 5 that aided in her ease). I see that as a child being taught inappropriate skills for her development.

    The challenge should come from the difficulty in the material and a deeper understanding of it, not from forcing an immature brain. Unless you are a math genius, calculus is a challenge. But it is a challenge because calculus itself is challenge and this is true whether you learn it at 7, 17 or 27. Yes, it is easier at 17 than 7, but you also learned a lot of skills needed for calculus between 7 and 17. Contrast that to learning how to ride a bike. That may be difficult at 4, but completely easy at 6 based on nothing other than naturally improving coordination. You don’t learn any skills between 4 and 6 that make it easier; you just physically develop during that period.

    My child is not average and needs to be challenged more than the average child. I want her challenged by making her to go beyond average understanding and knowledge of 8 year old skills, not by forcing an 8 year old to learn 10 year old skills – skills that she could easily learn at 10 just because her brain has developed to 10.

  176. Vanessa June 11, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    As I was dropping my daughter off at her high school today (don’t worry, she walks home) I saw what appeared to be a man in his 20s, with a full beard and a backpack, getting out of the back seat of an SUV in front of us. I asked Daughter “Is that guy a student?” and she said “I guess so, I don’t know him.” Having read this, I wonder if he actually was a 20-year-old senior!

  177. anonymous mom June 11, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    I’m just still not seeing why this practice would upset other parents.

    If it’s because these “red-shirted” kids do indeed have an academic advantage that seems unfair to those who didn’t delay school entry a year, that would seem to me to be a strong argument for the fact that either we should consider delaying kindergarten until 6 as routine practice or that we should scale back on what we’re doing in kindergarten academically. Because, we know from research into grade retention that simply holding a child back a year will NOT lead to better academic performance. If starting kindergarten at 6 or 6-1/2 does indeed lead to better academic performance, then that’s a pretty clear sign that either the average 5 year old is not ready for school or, more likely, that the kindergarten curriculum is not suitable for the average five year old, otherwise we would NOT see any advantage to delaying a year. Bored kids who aren’t being challenged *don’t* tend to thrive, so if these kids who start kindergarten later are thriving more than their peers, it seems like they are the ones being challenged in an age-appropriate way by the curriculum.

    However, it doesn’t seem like there’s a strong reason to believe that these kids are indeed outperforming their peers. Assuming that they aren’t, and these kids don’t have an academic edge, who cares? Why does it matter if a parent decides to delay their child’s entry into school by a year or not?

    @Vanessa, it’s fully possible he was a 17 or 18 year old senior who looked older. I remember a couple of 17 year old guys I went to school with who had full beards and could have easily passed for 25. I was a much older-looking teen, and was routinely mistaken for being a student teacher or sub rather than a student, from about 8th grade on. Not all people develop at the same rate physically, emotionally, and intellectually.

  178. Heather June 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    I’m in the UK, and here, many Universities expect kids to go into halls of residence for the first year, followed by private rentals for their second year and probably the third. As a result, effectively the university acts as the parent, aiding teens as they learned how to spot a good property and judge a lease.

    Mine ran a scheme that vetted local properties and had a standard lease, but then you dealt directly with the landlord thereafter. You signed up in groups, and then they held a ballot. Each group got to pick a house from those available in the areas they had chosen, and so coming high in the ballot gave you a bigger choice of properties. Most of us also went out to look at what the open market offered; local agents were used to hordes of wet-behind-the-ears freshers swarming around their properties in Spring (when people worked out where to live), followed by lesser hordes as the ballot got started.

    It worked well, and took some of the complexity out of it, but gave you the confidence to rent on the open market if you needed to.


  179. Juanita June 11, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    It is shocking to me to hear about parents accompanying their adult children apartment hunting. I had my first apartment when I was 22, and I don’t remember even asking my parents for advice. I also remember taking care of all of my college registration needs without mom & dad being involved at all. I wonder if this helicoptered generation will turn around and do things differently.

  180. anonymous mom June 11, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    @Juanita, yes, to me that’s the far more upsetting part of the story. People develop at different rates, sure, but college graduates SHOULD have the social and life skills to navigate a task like finding an apartment and dealing with a landlord. If they need a co-signer, fine. If the co-signer wants to check out the situation and talk to the landlord, that’s smart. But it’s on the level of having your parent go with you to a job interview to have your parent do all the work of finding an apartment for you if you are a young adult who managed to finish college.

  181. Papilio June 11, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    Re: driving lessons: “Our district offers it to the kids who are 14.5 and up. The reasoning is that they will get their permit when they turn 15, and have an entire year on the permit before they can get their license.”

    Add 2 years to every age mentioned and you pretty much have the current Dutch system…

    @Kristen: “I truly believe that children are capable and ready for at least 1/2 day school that teaches 123 and ABC in a play based environment when they are 3. Europe has been doing this for centuries.”
    Could you please be a bit more specific than ‘in 40+ different countries for a very long time’?
    Currently the most mentioned start age for mandatory schooling seems to be 6 (there’s a page in Wikipedia…). In the Netherlands it’s 5, traditionally kids start primary school at their 4th birthday, however, formal education doesn’t start until they’re (almost) 6. At 4 and 5 school is full day, but with lots of playing, recess and extra PE, so far from military bootcamp 😛
    There is no real cut-off anymore. Schools (with the parents, I assume) assess whether children born between Oct 1 (the old cut-off) and December are ready (to sit still and concentrate for longer periods of time, etc) or not; of course by that time the teacher team already knows them for at least 1,5 years.

  182. Donna June 11, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

    “Ask how it felt to take drivers ed when they were 17?”

    Not really sure what the issue is here. It’s not like you can’t still get your license earlier. If your state has a requirement for a driver’s ed class for licensing, there have to be private venues otherwise homeschoolers, drop outs, alternative students, the already graduated, etc. could never be licensed. Take those classes.

  183. SKL June 11, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    anonymous mom, the reason it peeves me is that it encourages / requires the teachers to suit the curriculum to older kids at the expense of younger kids. If my normal son was born on the cutoff and I put him in school, the school environment and lessons should be appropriate for him. I should not be pressured and he shouldn’t be accused of having ADHD because he acts like his age and gender. Other parents should not be all “I told you so” because I thought the school was supposed to cater to kids born on or before the cutoff. My perfectly normal, hardworking kid should not be completely shut out of certain recognitions because third graders have taken over the second grade.

  184. anonymous mom June 11, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    @SKL, that is totally understandable. But, I think the cause-and-effect are reversed. I do not think that schools have increased demands and expectations because there are more children delaying entering kindergarten, since we see the trend of intensive kindergarten even in areas where the practice of delaying kindergarten is not common. Instead, it seems like, as demands and expectations on kindergartners kept being raised, some parents responded by delaying entry. And if those kids are more successful, that would indicate that schools are not providing age-appropriate K-2 instruction, the grades at which a year or so might actually make a significant difference.

    I completely agree that schools need age-appropriate expectations, but that is the very reason why many parents are choosing to delay kindergarten entry (or forgo public school entirely). The fundamental problem does not seem to be parents deciding that they wanted their kids to enter kindergarten at 6 and the school scrambling to meet the needs of those kids, but schools increasing academic and behavioral demands in K-2 to levels that are simply not realistic for many children of the typical age at which they’d be in that grade.

    But, for most of their school career, it won’t matter. In high school, it’s not at all unusual to have mixed-age classes. I can remember taking Algebra II as a sophomore with seniors, and taking a French I class as a senior that was mostly freshman.

  185. SKL June 11, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    Redshirted kids don’t outperform their peers in the long run, but they do have a short term advantage. Just like if you had a foot race between three year olds and a third of the kids were four, chances are that the winner is going to be a four-year-old, even though 10 or 20 years later the four-year-old may not be the best runner.

    Similarly, I see my challenged kid growing more rapidly than her classmates as the years go by. In 1st grade I was under a ton of pressure because she was one of the slowest. In 2nd grade she was roughly average if not above. I expect that her diligence will mean continued improvement and I would not be surprised if she was one of the outstanding students in high school. But if some people had their way, she would not even have a chance to participate in her grade.

    I am not saying redshirting “upsets” me, but it is a peeve of mine, yes.

  186. k June 11, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    Not all kids will step up to a challenge. Especially where I live, where a significant portion of parents are incarcerated or drug addicts or don’t speak English or are just not present for whatever reason. My SIL taught at a title one school where on back to school night, only 5 parents showed up, out of a class of 35 kids. Obviously work schedules and other commitments can keep some parents away, but most of the parents of her students were not involved in their kids schooling. It’s very difficult to deal with behavior or grade problems when no one returns emails or phone calls or notes home.

  187. Donna June 11, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

    “Redshirted kids don’t outperform their peers in the long run, but they do have a short term advantage.”

    Assuming that is true (I actually don’t believe that red shirted kids have an advantage over their peers even in the short term), so? Are you really so competitive that who writes the capital A best in kindergarten is important to you? By the time grades become important for the future, any potential advantage from red shirting is long gone. Why is it really any of your concern who is held back and why?

  188. SKL June 11, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    Donna, because when people accept that a third of the age-eligible kids belong in a lower grade, then any young kid who doesn’t get held back (and his parents) is going to be pressured over every age-appropriate thing that the teacher doesn’t want to deal with. I have seen this so many ways, and not just with my own kids.

    I don’t care who is first in the class to do xyz, but if my kid is threatened over being in the bottom third of the class – which is where she should be if she’s on the young side – then obviously I have a problem with that. I have a problem with the fact that being young in the class significantly increases the chance of an ADHD diagnosis – proving bias (and/or incompetence) that to me is outrageous. These issues need to be fixed, not accommodated by parents of perfectly normal, healthy kids.

  189. Wendy W June 11, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    “Toddlers are totally used to this mindset. Try again 100 times even if you fall on your nose half of the time. That is normal. So why is it considered a problem at school?”

    1. Because a toddler falling on his nose is in the process of conquering age-appropriate skills, he’s not falling off a two-wheeler.

    2. Because no one is grading him on the skill he is learning.

    3. Because other toddlers are not picking on him if he can’t keep up.

    I’d much rather my kids be among the more mature in the class. I want them to be leaders, not followers. Socially immature kids are magnets for teasing and bullying. That’s not something any kid should be subjected to if it’s possible to prevent it.

  190. SKL June 11, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    “I’d much rather my kids be among the more mature in the class. I want them to be leaders, not followers. Socially immature kids are magnets for teasing and bullying. That’s not something any kid should be subjected to if it’s possible to prevent it.”

    If you believe that the least mature kids in the class are going to get bullied, then by redshirting (or moving the cutoff date) you’re not reducing bullying, just transferring the problem to some other kid. So now the classmate with the May birthday is screwed. I don’t see how this is positive.

    Again, not talking about kids with specific individual problems other than their unfortunate birth date.

  191. SKL June 11, 2014 at 11:40 pm #

    I tried a couple times to link an article about why kids fidget in school. Not sure if it is still in moderation or what.

    Anyway, the gist is that kids who lack core body strength are going to be unable to sit with proper posture for any amount of time, so they are going to change postures frequently etc.

    And we all know how it is that more and more kids lack core body strength. Kids are not spending enough time using their large muscles. And this doesn’t start on the first day of KG. It’s a free-range issue that goes back to toddlerhood IMO.

  192. anonymous mom June 12, 2014 at 7:15 am #

    @SKL, I completely agree that schools need to address and fix the issue of inappropriate expectations and demands.

    The problem is, they aren’t. If anything, they are just continually increasing them, under pressure from politicians and business leaders who have no background in child development and no sense of what is or is not age-appropriate or even what will or will not produce the best educational outcomes. So what are parents to do, in a situation where they have almost no power to change curriculum but are able to decide when their child starts school? Why should the parent of a child with an August birthday have to be resigned to the fact that their kid is going to struggle in school for a few years because they will be expected to have the skills of a child a year older any more than the parent of a child with a May birthday should have to be?

    To me, this just sounds like parents trying to work with the options available to them to solve a problem they did not create. I get that. I am a big believer in public education, but we live in a city where the public school system is atrocious. Like many of our friends, we have decided to not use the public schools. We’ve tried charter and private schools, and now we homeschool. I do understand that, by not enrolling my kids in the public schools, I’m helping to perpetuate the problem, which is partly that so many of the students with educated, involved parents–the students most likely to succeed academically–have left the city’s public school system which has exacerbated problems that were already occurring. But, the problems that were already occurring were serious enough that I don’t think it’s fair to expect parents–and I don’t expect myself–to sacrifice their child’s educational well-being on the altar of their ideals about public education.

    I don’t think we can expect individual parents to fix systematic problems. If the Detroit public schools are a mess–which they are–then that’s a problem that needs to be fixed at the institutional level, not by telling educated, informed parents in Detroit that they need to just send their kids to the local public school and hope things change. If K-2 classrooms have inappropriate demands and expectations for kids who are the traditional average age for those grades, then that needs to be fixed at the curricular level, rather than just insisting that any child born before the cut-off start kindergarten and hope that will lead to changes in the classroom. These are not problems created by parental choices, and they won’t be solved by parental choices.

  193. Jenny R. June 12, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    You don’t just send your kid to public school and hope things change! My kids go to public schools and I am far from powerless. True, we cannot influence curriculum with money like you can at private schools, but you become an involved parent. Volunteer in the classroom to see what’s really going on, have meetings with the principal, become a part of the parent-teacher association, go to school board meetings, go to city council meetings, talk to the superintendent’s office, etc. Parents do have a say, but it takes effort. School boards are elected after all. What’s that Margaret Mead quote? Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

  194. SKL June 12, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    Well I don’t understand why we are willing to fight little things like not being allowed to leave our kids in the car for a few minutes or letting them play alone in the park for an hour, but so many of us support complacency over something that affects a whole year of our children’s lives.

    Either we’re complacent about foolishness running our lives or we aren’t.

    I remember when my youngest was 4 and for a long time I couldn’t get any school to accept her in KG even though she was already beyond the entire KG curriculum in every respect (including behavior). I was beside myself over the rigidity of the system. I was determined to keep trying until my kid was in the right placement. I could not imagine saying “oh well, that’s the way schools are nowadays, we’ll just wait a year.”

    My brother was born on the cutoff. He was a pretty normal boy, i.e., not your model student but not pathological either. He entered school and had some good years and bad years, including some teachers declaring that he was too young/immature for the grade, but my parents didn’t retain him. They made the school test him (no diagnosis) and made the school teach him. Every parent of a public school child has that right, assuming the child isn’t setting fires etc. Why won’t parents push it? (My parents had 6 kids, of which 5 had “late birthdays,” and both worked full time, so it’s not like they had a ton of time on their hands.)

    If more parents would be assertive about this, more teachers and schools would accept that it really is their responsibility to take kids as they are and accommodate the realities of childhood.

  195. anonymous mom June 12, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    I don’t think we should be complacent. However, I also don’t think parents have a moral duty to leave their kids in cars at risk of arrest or CPS involvement in hopes the laws will change. If we want these laws to change, then it must happen at the institutional level, and I’m not going to fault any parent for being very wary about leaving a child in a car unattended until those changes happen. Because, realistically, more parents leaving kids in cars unattended is just going to lead to more arrests and more family separations, not legal changes. I’d much rather see changes come from concerted, organized efforts to enact commonsense laws, rather than hoping that a few parents acting as martyrs will, if they fight hard enough in court, be able to get the law changed, and I certainly don’t think any parent is responsible for stepping up to be that martyr when the well-being of their child (due to the potential for family separation) is at stake.

    Same with schools. Honestly, I don’t think small, determined groups of citizens change things very often: money and power are what change things, unfortunately, nearly all of the time. We should absolutely NOT be complacent about what’s happening in schools, but change is going to have to be institutional. We see this with testing. Parents can opt their child out of standardized tests all they want (and I’m not faulting them for doing so). But, until there is an organized, well-funded movement opposed to testing, nothing is going to change.

    We see unrealistic expectations for K-2 students even in districts where delaying school entry is rare. Change is not going to come because parents start all kids at school at 5; we’ll just see more kids saddled with unrealistic expectations. Change will only come when there is an organized, well-funded movement seeking to change these expectations at the institutional level.

  196. E June 12, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    This is a late reply but someone wrote:

    “And don’t forget that most of the teachers are women, often hardcore feminists with a distinct hostility towards men, including their male pupils.”

    is this for real? Often times female teachers are hardcore feminists with a distinct hostility towards men and then take it out on 5 year old male students?

    I have 3 siblings that are educators. Two of them pursued advanced degrees, once has a special needs child, yet she teaches a special ed classroom. It gets SO tiring to read about how awful teachers are — broad brushes suck.

    Bottom line, I agree that parents should be able to make this decision on behalf of their kids. And yes it has become a ‘trend’ for parents to do it to give their child an advantage (academically or athletically). Some people I know, made the decision long before they had to, bases SOLELY on when their child’s b’day fell.

  197. SKL June 12, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    I don’t see sending a normal child to school on time as “sacrificing” him. My kids were not “sacrificed,” they were educated.

    Although they do get a fair amount of movement in school, I don’t leave it entirely to the schools to ensure that; I make sure they do at least an hour of vigorous exercise outside of school every day. It isn’t that hard to do. I am a working single mom, who is pushing 50, and if I can do it, pretty much anyone can.

  198. anonymous mom June 12, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    That’s the thing, though: I’m not saying that you, or anybody, sacrificed their children. You have said again and again that you felt your children were ready for kindergarten at 5, and I believe you on that. You made the choice you felt was best for your children. I’m assuming your thought process wasn’t that, while starting school at 5 wasn’t in their best interest, it was in the best interest of society at large, so you’d do it anyway.

    But, the parent of a child they truly felt was not ready for kindergarten at 5 would be doing just that: doing something they felt was detrimental to their child in order to *maybe* make a political point.

    I can say with certainty that sending my kids into the Detroit public schools would be detrimental to them. It would NOT be in their best interest. Without a single other concern or piece of evidence (and certainly other concerns and evidence exist), over a decade of teaching college students who have come out of this school system has more than demonstrated to me that the education even top students receive is woefully sub-standard.

    So *I* would be sacrificing my child’s education if I were to send my kids to the public schools here. I would be making a choice that I felt was detrimental to my child, compared to the alternatives.

    We cannot expect parents to choose the potential for change that might benefit other kids over the concrete realities of what a given choice means for their own children. They shouldn’t have to make that choice. But as long as what’s best for the individual child and what *might* lead to changes that are better for the community/school/society as a whole are in conflict, we simply cannot expect parents to privilege the potential for benefits to other children over the reality of detriment to their own child.

  199. SKL June 12, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    The decision of whether to send one’s child to the local public school *at all* is a whole different discussion – a more complex one in my opinion. My own kids don’t go to public school, even though our local schools are rated “excellent.” I have my own reasons for that and they have nothing to do with kindergarten or readiness.

    Again, I am not against individual parents deciding their individual child is too immature to start KG around their 5th birthday. But what is happening in many communities is not that. And honestly, I don’t believe it’s complacency either, I think high rates of redshirting is about parents wanting school to be easy for their child. Many parents come right out and say this. To me there is a big difference between not wanting your kid to be constantly frustrated / punished / forced into unhealthy things, and wanting school to be easy. It seems to be a well-kept secret that moderate challenge (and sometimes being wrong) is best for kids.

    Maybe Lenore should do a post about the difference between healthy challenge and pointless frustration, not just in school but in all kinds of things.

  200. Jenny Islander June 12, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    I think there really is a trend for parents, seeing that K is the new first grade, to hold them back until they are the age that used to be the lower cutoff for first grade. People forget that the old standards were, by and large, based on observations of what children could actually do without strain. The old K curricula included lots of running around because K children typically have a hard time staying in one place for more than a few minutes!

  201. SOA June 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    For the record, I don’t think my children have been picked on at all for being the youngest in their class. I think that is imagined.

  202. SKL June 12, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    SOA, mine either. My petite kid is actually quite popular. My other kid is a bit of a time traveler, but as far as I know she has not been picked on either. In fact, both of my kids have complained to me about another boy being picked on (and have told their friends off about it).

    In my family most of 5/6 of us were too young by today’s popular standards, yet the only one who had big social problems in school was the 1/6 who was average age (January birthday). He was probably ASD and was a natural target, e.g., forgetting to zip his fly or comb his hair….

  203. CrazyCatLady June 12, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    “Feminist teachers” being what is wrong with our education? NO, but there should be a better mix of male to female teachers in the early grades. Women tend to teach in the manner that they learned best. Which is great for their female students. Male teachers tend to teach in the manner that THEY learned best, which is great for their male students. When one gender tends to teach a particular age segment, the learning will be toward the gender of the teacher.

    I have three kids that I homeschool. Two are boys. I realized I was picking materials for them that “I” liked, not ones that suited their gender needs at various developmental times. Once I changed to more boy oriented, (true fact, over fiction) their attitude toward learning greatly improved.

  204. CrazyCatLady June 12, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    My daughter’s birthday was December 18, the cut off was December 1. She was very READY for kinder. I asked the school if I could challenge the entry date and the secretary lied to me and said it was not possible. (The handbook, as I found out the next year, said otherwise. It was not a new policy.) I feel like the school redshirted her.

    Had she entered that year, she would have been fine. She was ready to read, and wanted to learn to read. She was ready for the math. By the time that school began the next year, she was already reading and knew most of the concepts in math for the year. She was still way ahead of her peers at the end of the year, other than her attitude toward reading was very poor as she wanted to be like the other kids (not reading chapter books.) This boredom eventually lead to our homeschooling, which wouldn’t have happened had she been in school when I wanted.

    My son was not socially ready for kinder, with a May birthday. He couldn’t sit still. He wouldn’t look people in the eye, he had to touch everything, and he couldn’t write as well/much as was expected. When they gave him to the teacher his sister had, the one who belittled the kids who couldn’t sit still, I said he would wait a year to do kinder. Since we were already homeschooling my daughter that year, he joined her at home.

    My youngest son had a December birthday also. But he was NOT reading, not ready to do kinder, even though I could have enrolled him in the charter type homeschool we were involved in, and gotten extra money. The extra year did him just fine.

  205. SKL June 12, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    “My daughter’s birthday was December 18, the cut off was December 1. She was very READY for kinder. I asked the school if I could challenge the entry date and the secretary lied to me and said it was not possible. (The handbook, as I found out the next year, said otherwise. It was not a new policy.) I feel like the school redshirted her.”

    I also had many school people blow me off with “that’s not done.” Ugh. By the time I got into contact with the person who could help me, it was too late to get her into KG by the start of school. It worked out in the end, but it was very frustrating, and yes, I felt like they were redshirting my very ready child. My temporary solution was to homeschool until some school would take her at the accelerated grade level.

  206. CrazyCatLady June 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    California educational law states: When a child is 6 years of age, he or she SHALL enter 1st grade.

    Which is open to the schools to determine if they want to stick to that or not. Some people who try to redshirt will find that their child will just skip Kinder and go directly to first grade. Some districts don’t enforce this and let the kids enter kinder at 6. Which, I believe is due to them wanting the kids to do better on testing due to No Child Left Behind.

  207. E June 12, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    @CrazyCatLady…sure it would be nice to have more male teachers, but that has nothing to do with the offensive sweeping remarks. I doubt it can even be backed up with any sort of evidence. It’s actually offensive that “hardcore feminism” is equated with hatred of men.

    I don’t worry too much about fewer male teachers (what can I do about it), but generations of wonderful people were educated by mostly female teachers.

  208. Emily June 12, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

    Kindergarten screening isn’t really a “thing” in the Canadian public school system, or at least, it wasn’t when I was that age. For those who do have it, though, can it go both ways, with some parents being told their kids are ready for kindergarten, other parents being advised to wait a year with their kids, and still other parents being told that their child doesn’t need kindergarten, and could feasibly skip kindergarten and start grade one at the age of five?

  209. SKL June 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    Emily, no, it doesn’t go both ways. There is a massive bias toward kids entering school older, and pretty much no support for kids entering younger. Even if a parent wants that it is very difficult to achieve. Some say impossible in some districts, though I suspect a case could be made almost anywhere if your child was a really clear outlier (and if you started early enough).

  210. anonymous mom June 12, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    @E, while I wouldn’t say that feminists themselves are to blame, there is absolutely a problem right now with the educational system being biased toward girls. In the move to rectify what were actually pretty small differences in male-female performance in math and science, we developed a whole set of practices and programs that have made schools much less friendly to boys. We now see boys performing worse than girls in all subject–and far worse in some than girls ever performed compared to boys–but no concerted efforts to create the same sorts of programs and practices to help them.

    That’s where I think it’s unfair. When we talk about, say, girls being less likely to enter a STEM field, the question is always, “How can we change STEM education to get girls more interested?” We assume that the girls themselves are fine and it’s the educational system that’s at fault. That’s the approach we’ve taken to girls’ education since the 1980s at least. But, when the question is why boys do worse in the early grades, or why boys aren’t engaged in their literature courses, or why boys aren’t entering college at as high rates as girls at this point, we don’t ask, “How can we change our schools to be more boy-friendly?” Instead, we ask, “What is wrong with boys and how do we change them?”

  211. CrazyCatLady June 12, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    anonymous mom, Thanks for stating so nicely what I wanted to say. I suspect that you have read some of the same books I have, like “The Trouble With Boys”, that explains our cultural shift in teaching practices. This is part of the reason that I am homeschooling my boys, though, I do find that I am not immune from this, but I have tried to make myself aware.

  212. hineata June 12, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

    Know this is late but I have to ask what the academic advantage of redshirting is. When we assess children for reading here, the chart lists a child’s age by month from five, and you plot their progress against the norm (up to about 7.5 I think, and then it switches to 6 monthly? Forget 🙂 ). When I was homeschooling for a few months years ago I accessed a couple of US sites for graded reading material and they seemed to do the same thing.

    My point is that unless the parents give a redshirted child reading lessons at home for that extra year or too (which of course some would), the child isn’t going to look smart… Rather they will look rather thick on normed tests.

    I also greatly question the idea that older kids in a class will be leaders. I know for my two kids that were near the upper age in their year group, neither was a leader type until fairly recently, not far from the end of their formal schooling. My youngest however, who is among the youngest in her year group, led her group of friends for a long time, and my husband’s cousin, who was a full year younger than the next youngest in her class, was always a leader. Still is. It comes down to individuals.

    So redshirting for extra freedom – cool! But I really doubt the academic and ‘leadership’ stuff.

  213. SKL June 13, 2014 at 12:04 am #

    Hineata, here the main way they evaluate kids is against “grade level” standards. So for example, if she is tested in March of 1st grade, how does she stack up against other 1st graders tested in March? Her age does not affect the score at all.

    Parents who redshirt to give their kids an academic advantage do not have their kids just running around playing in the fields the year before KG. They are doing academic pre-K (or sometimes they do 2 planned years of KG), and many of them are pretty good readers before they enter 1st grade.

    Also, there are certain math concepts that “click” at around age 7. 1st graders are not required to master them, but they may show up on the tests to identify kids who are operating above grade level. This may give older kids a testing advantage.

    Not that I’m very focused on the gifted program, but the one at my kids’ school requires certain scores on the 2nd grade achievement and cognitive aptitude tests. I’m betting that the kids who turn 9 by early fall of 3rd grade are going to be overrepresented in the gifted program. Not because their IQs are higher, but because they were essentially 3rd graders taking the 2nd grade achievement tests.

  214. hineata June 13, 2014 at 12:55 am #

    Thanks SKL.

    That does sound most unfair….and I am surprised at the gifted programme identification. I suppose it wouldn’t be an issue if they relied on IQ tests like the SBV, which does rank by year/month (my kid who took one, for an example, ended up a percentile ahead of another child by dint of being three months younger…the percentile should be nothing but was almost the difference between being accepted to the programme or not).

    However standard IQ tests suck at identifying minority kids (except Asians) so they’re fairly suspect now. Still this seems worse, actually comparing kids with 1.5/2 years between them as though they should be equal…..

  215. Tsu Dho Nimh June 14, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    OMG, the helicopter parents of tenants!

    Only been through one so far, but it was an experience … Mummy called me incessantly getting measurements and asking for more info about the place and wanting to discuss decor, showed up with waaaay too much stuff, did all the unpacking that ever got done (most stuff stayed unpacked), and did all but guide her offspring’s hand signing the lease.

    Never again. I’ll bluntly say that I deal with the proposed tenant only … no intermediaries, except that parents are welcome to co-sign the lease as guarantors.

    Also,there is the common Craigslist rental scam, where incoming tenant (always a church-going female grad student of mixed American and foreign citizenship, often karaoke singing is her hobby, and she’s out of phone range but still has an internet connection) is going to have daddy pay the bills and daddy wants to send you a honking ginormous check for the full year’s rent.

    It’s the classic phony cashier’s check overpayment and they want to get the excess back immediately by Western Union.

  216. Ronda Bowen June 16, 2014 at 4:44 am #

    We “redshirted” kindergarten years ago (my son is now almost 16, when he’ll be a sophomore in high school) following the advice of my aunt, who was a lifelong educator in elementrary school and her husband, a principal. He was right on the cusp. I’m glad I did, he was one of the smaller boys for a long time, and a late bloomer. Socially, it was one of the best decisions I could have made. Academically, it was also a great decision, as he was more on-target with his peer group’s abilities. When a child is on the cusp like that, it is a judgement call. It tends to be the case that boys are a little bit behind girls at that age, and they do benefit from the extra year before starting (again, all according to my aunt’s and uncle’s experiences in education).

  217. SKL June 16, 2014 at 7:07 am #

    Speaking of helicoptering college students. My nephew just graduated high school. He’s 18 and an outstanding, brilliant student, although he has ASD and has considerable trouble holding a conversation.

    So last week was his graduation party, and several people were talking to his parents about how much work college is going to be – for the parents. My brother kept saying, “no, Nephew is a man.” But people kept trying to argue about it. I guess time will tell.

    It’s funny, when I went to college at 16 it never crossed my mind that any of my college requirements were the responsibility of anyone but me. I did get some help in the form of a shared family car, and I did discuss things with my mom, and I’m sure she gave me some pointers, but I was making the decisions and living with the consequences. We even took one class together (she was going for her associate’s degree at the time) and she’d study and she’d ask me if I studied (as classmates sometimes ask). I’d say no, I felt confident enough, and she’d shrug and we’d go to class. I remember being really peeved when one of the profs approached my dad (who was also going there for his associate’s) to discuss my reluctance to present in class. My dad also thought she was ridiculous.

  218. Amanda Matthews June 16, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    ” You don’t go to KG to prove that you are the most brilliant person on the planet, you go to be exposed to important stuff that is age-appropriate.”

    Sorry but I do not feel that sitting and “book learning” all day every day is appropriate for 4 year olds, 6 year olds or even 10 year olds.

    Yes 4 year olds can (and should) learn. But building things and reading before going out to play is worlds apart from spending the whole day memorizing answers to the standardized tests. Yes KG was dumbed down – but it was then dumbed UP. They aren’t going back to the previous ways of KG, they have started whole new ways that are even more ridiculous than what it was dumbed down to.

    “Readers, has this actually been your kid’s experience in KG? Or 1st or 2nd?”

    Well it was MY experience in KG, which I started at 4. (Yes I had tests first that assured my parents I was gifted and academically ready. I certainly was not socially ready though and that probably started the downward spiral that was my social life all through school.)

    As for the renting thing;

    I “paid” my own way through college – and left with horrible credit because of student loans and times of needing to use a credit card for books and food. Despite the fact that I got those student loans before I was 18 and my parents had to cosign, I was held responsible for them but my parents were not.

    The moment I turned 18, I moved several states away from my parents. I had no contact with my parents for a few years after that. So my parents just weren’t available to cosign for a lease. So no cosigner, horrible credit, and no/a very short time on the job (since I had just moved to the state).

    But I still managed to get a place to live. Through truthfully, several people just laughed at me and flat out said “You aren’t going to find a place that will rent to you with your age, income and no cosigner” I learned not to sound as naive as I was, made it clear that giving up and going back to my parents’ house was not an option, and rented places.

    I’m 29 now (so this wasn’t that long ago), have paid off those college debts, and fully own a house with no loans, no mortgage, no cosigner…

  219. Dirk June 19, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    Red shirting for Kindergarten has been a thing for a long time. I noticed it as I got older that this was common in my area, particularly among the more well-to-do and Waspy types. I have to say it does make sense to me in that it gives your child a leg up in maturity both emotional and physical over who their peers will be…

  220. Alex June 21, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    My parents took this advice in the early 80s and kept my brother, a smart but emotional boy, out of kindergarten an extra year. By 4th grade he was so neurotic from being intellectually ahead of his class that he had to be skipped a grade. That was a huge hassle with the school, but ultimately the right choice.

    I, who was allowed to enter kindergarten at 4 because I would be 5 by Oct 1st,had excellent academic results. So I would be very wary of advice to hold a child back.