Pay for private school? Homeschooling? Tutoring? Extra homework?
Now, have any of your decisions with your children’s education helped ensure they were more mature than their classmates? Smarter? Bigger? Maybe even more popular?
‘Redshirting’ has always been known as a term used for athletes, to hold them out of varsity competition to extend their eligibility. Now it is gaining popularity with parents of preschoolers. More and more parents are choosing to hold their child back for one more year so they are more mature and, according to some research, giving them an edge in their education and school activities.
The National Center for Educational Studies reported in the 2006-2007 school year 9% of American children were held back voluntarily. Statistically, male, Caucasian, wealthier preschoolers are more likely to be held back, with the caucasian rate double the African-American rates.
Which means, for an already stressed school system, teachers are now having to work with students with even more varied maturity and readiness levels, with classmates ranging from 4 1/2 to 6 years old in kindergarten.
Even if holding them back a year means they are more ready for the increasingly challenging kindergarten curriculum, does redshirting a child mean lasting educational benefits? Probably not.
Beyond students that were genuinely held back because they were not ready for kindergarten or had a learning disability, there are negligible educational benefits shown by redshirting a kindergartener.
One study shows that redshirting benefits disappear by third grade, noting the students are all being taught at the same rate throughout school. It also noted age has no effect on household income, marital status, wages home ownership or even college enrollment.
Another study even goes further, saying that redshirted children are more likely to drop out of school or get arrested.
Even though a parent may have in mind a better education for their child, redshirting a child seems more to be driven by the social and physical aspects rather than the educational one.
Even in a recent 20/20 news story a parent said her son’s preschool teacher urged her to hold her son back a year, even though he was excelling in class. She gave the reasons other parents recommended it, including-
“Like he’ll be the last to drive and he won’t get to go on dates like the other kids. There’s a lot of talk of, “I want my son to be a leader.” I mean academics were never mentioned.”- Holly Korbey
In a world of economic hardship, a struggling school system and a current focus on bullying, for some parents, redshirting is the answer to helping their child excel in the classroom and school activities.
Their hopes for their child? To be the older, more mature classmate. To have the bigger kids in class, the ones more likely to excel in sports in their grade. The ones old enough to drive before their peers, a jingle in their pocket potentially keys popularity and success.
What do you think of the rising popularity in redshirting? Would you consider it for your child? Have you redshirted one of your children?
Megan isn’t worried about whether or not to redshirt yet because her son is only two years old. You can find her, among other places, blogging at Sunshine Wonderland.