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Redshirting--Do you think there should be more rules?

  1. LuLu Mom

    GOLD / wonderful olive / 19030 posts

    Growing up our cut off was Oct 15th, and I remember people in my class being older than people in the year ahead of us. Now they have changed the cut off to be July 15th in my school district, so redshirting is less common. I have a March baby and there is no way I would hold her back but my oldest is Oct 1st and I think I would have held her back had the original cutoff been in place. I don't think she would have been ready this year for kindergarten.

  2. Becky

    persimmon / 1390 posts

    @honeybear: I think there should be a nationwide cutoff, because it would put everyone on a more level playing field within a system that is regulated (with local flexibility) at the national level. Red shirting would never have been on my radar before common core or before standardized testing and increased academics in the classroom. I know someone mentioned recently that it seems we're all up in arms about increased academics, but it's a real thing--teachers are confirming it, and my school straight up recommended red shirting. The rigor came first, not the red shirting: it's not more 6 year olds in a classroom that is causing the instruction to be at a higher level--it's the requirement of more rigorous academics that is resulting in more parents holding kids back (I've heard of the athletics argument--I know many people who have red shirted their kids, and not a single one listed athletic capabilities as a factor. I also want to note I didn't hear about all these children who were held back until after I had made my decision, so that didn't have an impact).

    Anyway, a child entering K in a district with a Dec 1 cutoff will not be as prepared for the academics required in classrooms and the testing down the road as a child in a district with an Aug 1 cutoff.

    Many people have brought up ability levels and transitional kindergarten and I am so fully on board with that. I hope we can move toward that--it's just too late for my daughter, so I'm holding her back. Starting formal schooling at such a young age is not the norm in similar countries, and when the US is struggling to keep up and increased numbers of youth have anxiety resulting in part from so many activities and academic expectations, that should be one of the (many, many) factors we look at.

  3. Anagram

    eggplant / 11706 posts

    @Becky: What do you mean about this part? "Anyway, a child entering K in a district with an August 1 cutoff will not be prepared for the academics required in classrooms and the testing down the road as a child on a district with a Dec. 31st cutoff. ".

    Wouldn't a district with a Dec 31st cutoff have more 4 year olds in K than a district with an Aug 1st cutoff? So kids in an Aug 1 cutoff district would be older and more prepared theoretically? Or am I missing something?

  4. Becky

    persimmon / 1390 posts

    @Anagram: oops, typo!

  5. lady baltimore

    persimmon / 1183 posts

    This conversation is SO interesting to me! Maybe I'm just not dialed in to the kindergarten circuit yet, but I am only really familiar with red shirting at the high school level (through my husband who is involved in elite high school athletics). I find that fairly ridiculous, but designing any portion of your life around competitive sports is just not my particular jam . . .

    I think it makes a lot more sense to start kids according to whatever cutoff date is dictated by the school, and then let them repeat K or 1st if necessary (I have cousins who just did each in MA). I understand that this is not always a readily available option, but as a teacher, I have trouble with the idea of letting a parent be the sole decision maker about readiness. Yes, you know your kid best, but educators know the demands of their program better, and should at least be partners in the decision-making process.

    My LO has an early December birthday and we're in a September 1 cutoff area. She is only 21 months, but I already have people advising me on how to game the system to get her into school early. Not really a concern of mine at this point, but thanks.

  6. Foodnerd81

    wonderful cherry / 21504 posts

    One thing to add about the "let teachers decide/ recommend"- I have talked to so many people who say the preK teacher said the kid "would benefit from an extra year". And even I have heard from a preschool teacher how no one regrets holding them back. So at least in my area, most of the preK teachers seem to be pretty pro holding kids if it's at all close.

  7. JoyfulKiwi

    nectarine / 2667 posts

    "Do you think the class environment is worse when the kids' ages vary so much, or do you think it makes no difference?"
    I think it makes classrooms better. 12-18 months range seems like a big deal, but it's not. There's a whole schooling model called Multi-Age with groupings of kids ranging 3-4 years in age. Multi-Age is amazing and one of the best ways for children to learn & teachers to teach. Mixed/varied ages forces teachers to differentiate & know the students' abilities, because they can't get by on "low", "middle", "high" subgroups. The best schools I've taught in have either incorporated Multi-Age models or use the philosophy in their straight-aged classrooms. I wish more schools would learn this method!
    "Do you think redshirting "punishes" kids who start on time?"
    This confuses me. How would being the youngest be a punishment? Because of academics or emotional maturity?
    "Do you think parents are the best people to decide whether or not their child is "ready" for school..."
    Yes. Schools know a lot & teachers know a lot, but parents are the primary caregivers and should be allowed to make those choices as they see fit. Starting school at a non-traditional age is not child abuse/neglect.
    "Do you think public school should have more rules surrounding the redshirting process..."
    No, I think it would make things even more complicated. I feel the same about a nationwide cutoff. I don't see why that is necessary at all. I do think more clarification on if Kindergarten is part of mandatory schooling would be helpful. My state doesn't need kids to start school until they are 6. So if there was some rule about red shirting, a 6 year old with no school experience at all could potentially be denyed a Kindergarten year.

    I'm kind of surprised at how many people have such strong feelings about how wrong and/or annoying this choice is. This has been going on for ages (certainly since the early 2000's when I began teaching & before Common Core became a thing) and no one I knew batted an eye at it. The factors are so varied as to when a child would be most successful in school that it's hard for me to say, "No, families can't do this ever." (Or only by jumping through hoops).

    Is Kinder too rigorous these days? The standards laid out by Common Core & testing-crazed politicians point to yes. Not all schools buy-in to that culture & more often than not they're lead by caring, competent professionals who can help all children grow no matter what their age. Some kids are ready at an arbitrary cut-off (and any cut-off would be arbitrary) and some are not. It's not an easy thing to decide, but I've rarely met someone regretting their choice either way.

  8. JoyfulKiwi

    nectarine / 2667 posts

    Also, the idea of just holding a kid back rather than starting late is a painful one for me. Being held back in modern schools is pretty emotionally damaging & doesn't usually lead to the gains adults hope for.

    I love the New Zealand system of starting throughout the year. I also love the idea of Kindergarten being a two-year program for kids ages 4-6, with the option for kids to move to 1st Grade if they're ready at the end of the first year. The ability level of kindergarteners can be so vast, even if they're all just 6-12 months apart. It'd be so advantageous to move kids along when they're ready for first grade, rather than when they were born.

  9. Adira

    wonderful pomelo / 30692 posts

    Here's some more anecdotal data to consider:

    My brother (September birthday with a September 30 cut-off) started kindergarten on time. His teachers thought he could benefit from another year, so he was held back and repeated kindergarten (essentially red-shirting him). Socially and emotionally at the time, that might've been the right decision for him, but by the time he reached high-school, he was totally intellectually bored and should've been in more advanced classes!

    So there's no right answer. Doing what you think might be best NOW might not be the right answer for the future. Making a decision on what you think will be right for the future might not feel like what's right for now. There's no way to really know or predict how your kid will end up.

  10. bushelandapeck

    pomelo / 5720 posts

    I didn't read all the comments but I know from experience that this is a sensitive topic for a lot of people. We just went through this with our August son (cut off is 8/31) and chose to hold him. This was a difficult decision (which I still struggle with) but I think holding him was the best decision for him. In our area, it's common to hold July/Aug children back from K as there is no option to repeat K unless the child is identified as needing special education services and repeating K would be beneficial. We made our decision based on our personal beliefs about our childs needs, and also because his preschool teacher and the director also recommended it. I agree with others who feel there should be a strict policy about cutoffs and all children going at the same time, preferably with a 12/31 cutoff, but since that is not the case, parents with kids who fall in so close to the cutoff are forced to decide whether to have their child be the youngest or the oldest.

  11. bushelandapeck

    pomelo / 5720 posts

    @Adira: I think redshirting and having a child repeat a grade are two different things, personally. The kids I grew up with several boys who stayed back in 1st or 2nd grade did seem bored and tended to get into more trouble, but the kids I see who started late (but weren't held back) seem to have done fine.

  12. looch

    wonderful pear / 26210 posts

    @Adira: But that should have been considered when he was in high school )at least that is my thinking). I was in a school that had mixed ages. For example, I took Algebra 2 as a freshman, and it had sophomores in it.

    I believe that teachers and administrators that are worth their salt wouldn't let a kid be bored in a class. I also realize not every teacher has the resources to be able to do this.

  13. Mrs. Yoyo

    blogger / pomelo / 5400 posts

    @Twolittlemen: Wow, could have written your post. We've since moved, but we were in an affluent part of a big southern district last year when my son started K and people couldn't even believe I was sending him on time (he has a late June birthday, and the cut-off is mid-August). Everyone pretty much just held summer kids by default, even some spring, and my son's best friend ended up being a full 15 months older than him.

    Unfortunately, we did NOT have the benefit of a veteran teacher, and we were in a testing, standards-obsessed district. My son caught up quickly, but he was definitely held to the standards of an almost 7, not a young 5.

  14. Adira

    wonderful pomelo / 30692 posts

    @looch: That's true, and we had that too, but you had to complete certain classes to be eligible for other advanced classes - he was in the most advanced classes possible, but probably would have done better if he had been able to start high school a year earlier.

  15. looch

    wonderful pear / 26210 posts

    @Adira: Then he should have started looking at community colleges for credits, at least that is what I would have suggested as a parent knowing what I know now.

    What you wrote hit home, though, I believe that you have to make decisions based on NOW. It's good advice. The decision to hold my son back was based on his emotional readiness at age 5. When he's ready for high school, we will reassess and I will find him a program that meets his needs at that time. There is so much out there in the specialty high schools space that didn't exist 15-20 years ago.

  16. Adira

    wonderful pomelo / 30692 posts

    @looch: I mean, where we lived was pretty rural so there really weren't a ton of options for him, and my parents didn't really know what to do. And as a Freshman or Sophomore, he had no way of getting to a community college, even if that was an option. The internet also wasn't as prevalent back then either, so it wasn't as easy to find out what your options were.

  17. looch

    wonderful pear / 26210 posts

    @Adira: I realize that...we have a lot more information now than just a few years ago. I have talked to my mother about this at length...she just didn't know that such a thing as magnet schools existed. It was the schools in town or religious schools.

    I have kind of gotten into the mindset that I need to address things as they come up and then make the plan. I went through the standard flow of elementary/middle/high school in town. I have come to realize that my son's experience is going to be different and I have to be constantly updating myself on the options available. It's already changed from where I thought I'd enroll him into kindergarten, as an example. We bought a house right next to our town elementary school when he turned 2. I instead opted to enter him in a lottery for a spot in an out of town magnet school that goes to 8th grade and I will have to determine what he does for high school. It's interesting how education is evolving!

  18. Freckles

    honeydew / 7444 posts

    @looch: @Adira: I actually believe that parents need to make a decision that is best for the current situation. We do not know how things will be for our kids when they are middle-schoolers or in college. The social, emotional and academic needs each pull us in very different directions and i think we need to accept that we will have to keep changing our kids' plans as different needs change priority. When i bring up grade skipping, i'm always met with, "but what about in high school" comments - who knows what will happen, but my priority is addressing the now. We also bought a house right next to an elementary school when she was 2 as we thought we would be sending her there, but now we are entertaining other programs outside of our area.

  19. Modern Daisy

    grapefruit / 4187 posts

    I guess I wouldn't mind having the decision taken out of my hands considering I'm not a professional, but my son has special needs (behavioral) and an 8/22 birthday so my gut tells me to hold him back while he is receiving services so we can at least try to get him caught up emotionally before starting him with peers which could be a recipe for disaster. I worry that if he's not ready and the services aren't yet meeting his needs it could get him placed in a school setting that is not inclusive and lead to insecurity or even depression. But like I said I'm just a parent with no manual trying to do the right thing for my son, not an experienced educator.

  20. Anagram

    eggplant / 11706 posts


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