Redshirting: How parents decide whether or not to hold their child back a year

Redshirting: How parents decide whether or not to hold their child back a year

CREATED Nov. 1, 2012

Reporter: Justin Schecker

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - To start school or not to start school? That's the question many parents of 5-year-olds are asking.

Redshirting is a term normally associated with college coaches delaying freshmen athletes' eligibility to compete. It also refers to parents who have their children with late summer birthdays who wait a year before they enter kindergarten. In doing so, their kids will be the oldest and not the youngest students in their class.

Dr. Julie Laird spent a decade teaching kindergarten and first grade before becoming the principal at Schumaker Elementary School.

Laird told 9 On Your Side parents need to consider a handful of factors before deciding to red-shirt.

"If kids just really aren't ready emotionally for kindergarten, then they are going to struggle with the academics as well," Laird said. "So if they're not developmentally ready for kindergarten, that parent has every right to make that decision to wait until they are ready."

Nine On Your Side Facebook page follower Barbara Bishop Davis shared her redshirting story.      

"I didn't hold my son back from starting kindergarten because he was ready and now that he is 12 in 7th grade, I wish I did," Davis wrote. "His birthday is 8/30 so he barely made the cut off but is the youngest in his class. Now it is making a difference maturity wise."

Laird said parents need to consider their child's maturity beyond kindergarten. 

"We know that every child matures at a different rate," she said. "And if they're not ready socially for the challenges of middle school and high school, that can be difficult for them."

Parents should also consider whether they want their children starting college when they are only 17 years old. 

While Laird said every child needs to be evaluated on an individual basis, she doesn't always encourage red-shirting. Laird told 9 On Your Side parents need to also consider whether they can pay for alternative child care. 

"If they're not able to afford to put the child into a preschool program -- I don't necessarily mean an academic preschool -- I would hope they would be in a play-based preschool where they'd have the opportunity to build those social skills," Laird said. "Then that could definitely be a con."  

TUSD offers testing to determine whether children are socially, emotionally and physically ready for kindergarten. 

"We have a readiness assessment that is given during the summertime," Laird said. "We will let the parents know if we feel like the child is ready."