Redshirting in Kindergarten

Redshirting your kid for kindergarten. What does this mean? In case you missed 60 minutes last night, it means holding your child back a year from entering kindergarten. Rather than starting kindergarten at 5, your child starts at 6. The entire idea has sprung from the research presented by Malcom Gladwell in his book The Outliers. Gladwell provides lots of statistics showing the advantages of being an older child in academics as well as sports. He calls it a “cumulative advantage.” If kids start out with being just a bit ahead of the rest of the game, over time, this small advantage build into a bigger advantage. Some parents are choosing to hold their kids back just so they have this advantage.

Gus has a November 5th birthday and if I put him in public school, the cut-off is November 1st whereas if I put him in private school, the cut-off is December 1st. So, in one scenario he is the oldest child and in the other scenario he is the youngest. And since LAUSD has horrible public schools, he will most likely be going to private school so I am going to be faced with a dilemma in the not so distant future. Do I keep him in pre-school an extra year? Or do I send him on to kindergarten?

I am really conflicted. First, I completely get the advantage of being older when it comes to sports. I’ve already seen this played out in his life. For example, Gus just started Tae Kwon Do. However, the martial arts school doesn’t start taking kids until they are 4. I asked if they would make an exception and they said that he could have a trial run. He did great and was allowed to take classes. Honestly, I think they just really wanted to make sure he was potty trained. So, he’s in a class with boys who are four to six years old. And he’s always the little dude bringing up the rear. The oldest boys are the ones that win all the races and all the challenges. Not because they are necessarily better, but that they are bigger. When it comes to sports, I totally get it.

But then there’s the academic part. I have to admit I am more afraid of him being ahead of the rest of his class than being a year behind. Mostly because he’ll get bored. He already has a ton of energy and if he’s bored, he’ll get into trouble. I want him to be excited about learning and if he enters kindergarten ahead of the class, chances are he will lose interest.

In case you’re keeping track, that’s 1 for hold him back and 1 for send him. Then, there’s the emotional maturity part which is an entirely different issue. I’ve seen this being played out in his life too. Most of his closest friends are at least a year older than he is and Gus is the only one throwing tantrums. It gets difficult because I find myself getting upset with him for not behaving like his friends behave when they get upset when really he is just acting his age. How do I gauge if he’s ready emotionally?

I’m glad I don’t have to decide tonight because I’m not any closer to an answer. I want to know what you think. Any new ideas? Anyone see the show? Anyone read the book?

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