Apparently holding kids back an extra year is a common occurrence in the south. Going to school in Ohio, the cutoff date for holding a child back was September. The fact that some schools in the south have cut-off dates starting as early as March (in extreme cases; most are August) make me really nervous to start my kids, who both have summer birthdays. Once again, this is one of those bazillion questions that I would have run past my mom over and over were she still here – she worked in an elementary school system for 25 years, she would certainly have great insight into this issue. However, since that is not an option I find myself asking everyone every chance I get of their input. This is an issue that I continue fret over, and I am sure I will continue to do so for many years to come.
I was not even aware that the term “kindergarten redshirting” actually existed. It was not until I began to google articles related to holding children back an extra year did I come across this phrase. One of the articles I found was specifically looking at the outcomes of boys – right up my alley. Her findings found that the boys who were held back performed better overall – academically and socially. The boys who were pushed into school at 5 always felt that they were always “trying to catch up”. My biggest concern holding Will back has been fear of boredom – he is a really smart kid, and I feared that holding him back would not give him enough of a challenge academically. It was a relief to read this article, because none of them expressed that concern. Being socially mature and more physically mature (not the shortest in the class, etc.), made them a better student overall. More often than not, they became the leaders in the classroom, rather than the followers.
Will’s 4-year well-child check with his pediatrician was today, and I asked him his opinion on holding a child back vs. pushing them forward in school. I told him that my husband and I were taking a wait-and-see approach; we wanted to give Will a full year to see if he would be mature enough to enter kindergarten next fall. Our pediatrician gave me an answer I was not expecting – he told us regardless of how he behaves come next fall, he would without a doubt hold him back an extra year.
Since I have had that conversation with our pediatrician, I have talked to a handful of other parents that have older boys. Surprisingly, many of them held their boys back as well, and none of them have regretted their decision. The more and more I have been reading and discussing this issue with other parents and friends, the more I am convinced that holding both boys back will be best for them in the long run. I hope that in time, my husband and I will come to a place of peace about our final decision and make the best choice for our kids.
The article that I found regarding “kindergarten redshirting” can be found here.