Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The New Redshirting

As summer draws to a close, ricedaddies everywhere are preparing to send their kids back to school. Deciding whether your rice baby is ready to take the leap into Kindergarten isn't easy. And now, after the decision's made, you're left second-guessing whatever it was you decided.

A friend of mine told me about a recent article from the NYT magazine (via the Dallas news) which talks about the not uncommon practice of 'redshirting' your kids into kindergarten:
"the term, borrowed from sports, describes students held out for a year by their parents so they will be older, larger or more mature and thus better prepared to handle the increased pressures of kindergarten today."
Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? But like so much, the decision to wait on Kindergarten is tied up with affluence and class, which means of course its tied up with race:
"Recently, redshirting has become a particular concern, because in certain affluent communities, the number of kindergartners coming to school a year later are three or four times the national average...
"Demographically speaking, any child with a father willing to call on a teacher to discuss if it's best for that child to spend a third year at a $10,000-a-year preschool is going to be fine.

"[But,] Ms. Andersen told me, "I've had parents tell me that the preschool did not recommend sending their children on to kindergarten yet, but they had no choice," as they couldn't afford not to. In 49 out of 50 states, the average annual cost of day care for a 4-year-old in an urban area is more than the average annual public college tuition."

In the kingdom of thisislarry, we're past the point of no return. As of this September, we'll have only schoolkids in our house. But something to ponder for the rest of us slowly (or quickly!) approaching this milestone.


angie said...

i struggled with this for my son. my daughter was completely ready (and willing) to go in to her "age-appropriate" grade when she reached 5/kindgarten. (she was 5 and 5 months) at the time. but my son, who is speech delayed, is only 5 (+2 months) and despite this, will be entering kindergarten. the teachers at his pre-school thought it would be better to let him repeat another year at Pre-K 4 (and i agreed), but the ex-spouse responded defensively.

as a compromise, the kids will be going to their age-appropriate grades, but with the clause that if Boy's teachers feel that 1st grade is too much for him at the end of next year, he'll repeat K. (*which poses some other issues, but then this comment would be 12 pages long . . . )

every child is different and i think it is up to parents who know the child the best to assist in making the right decision for the right reasons re: schooling . . .

honglien123 said...

Evie was only 4 years and 10 months when she started kindergarten but everyone including her school administrators thought she was ready. She was the youngest kid in her class and shared a birthday with a classmate who turned 6 when she turned 5. Everything was fine academically, and she didn't seem to have any issues socially until we found out about some meanness at the end of the school year.

Like Angie says, every kid is different. I honestly don't think you could win either way. For Evie, if we held her back, I think she would have just been bored academically. At this point we're just hoping a little adversity strengthens her.

Good luck to the Pony Princess and Rabbit Dragon!

thisislarry said...

Thanks Honglien! I'm actually really excited about having Princess Pony in Kindergarten this year. She's kind of naturally grown out of preschool, its time to move on. She'll turn 5 a month after school starts, but from what I remember with her and Evie playing, they're similarly confident girls.

Angie, a friend of mine went thru a similar thing last year. After their son went to Kindergarten at the private preschool, he went to 1st grade at the public school and felt overwhelmed. His parents made the hard decision to have him split his time between 1st and K that year, and then go full-time to 1st this coming year. I think it was a painful decision to have to make, but clearly the best for their son, who did much better.

WkSocMom said...

I really liked that article and find it disturbing that we're adding more to the disparity between kids. I'm sending my son (Nov. b-day) and in my attempt to meet other kids going to the new Kindergarten discovered a sigh of relief among a few who were worried their child would be the youngest. Several were told to hold their kids back, not based knowing the kid, just based on their birthdays. I'd have no problem waiting if they change the entrance date (we're in CA), and frankly think perhaps they should (although would way rather see academics pushed out than kindergarten entrance pulled in).

One woman said her child was the only one in her playgroup starting kindergarten (also Nov. b-day and I believe all white affluent playgroup) even though most were eligible. Another was sure her son would be the youngest - and he has a FEB birthday.

Anonymous said...

I live in the "Tiny Kingdom" and almost all kids are being "held back". In other words spending another year in a 5 day a week day school using K curriculum. My son was in K with 7 year olds!

Robyn said...

My nephew (now in third grade) was not allowed (Hawai'i state law I guess) to start kindergarten at age 5, but had to wait until age 6. (His birthday is in August and I guess they had to turn 5 by some earlier month.)

I think maybe other states have had rules like this longer since when I meet people who graduated high school in the same year as me, they are sometimes a year older.

My cousin though, born in December, was going to be held back. Her mom sent her to another preschool hoping that she wouldn't know she was being held back. Didn't work, and she was so sad that the mom ended up switching her to kindergarten soon after.