Why Starting Kindergarten Early Is a Good Idea


redshirting hurts kidsThinking about holding your child back for another year of pre-school? Whether you're hoping he'll be the biggest kid on the football team or the smartest little dude at the spelling bee, it turns out you will be shooting that kid right in the foot -- academically speaking -- if you delay kindergarten. Not exactly what parents were going for when they made the call to let their 5-year-old wait a year before beginning his academic career.

However, a new study shows that children who start kindergarten earlier do better. And those red-shirted kids do worse in school and are less motivated all the way into high school. Yikes, that's a serious long-term negative effect on the kid you were hoping might just be a bit more mature next year.

Of course what's really interesting is the child that starts kindergarten on the younger end winds up kicking butt in reading and math. Turns out the biggest benefit to starting school early is that you're starting school early.

As a lucky parent to two children who were born in the spring, I can say that I've never had to consider delaying school. But as a precocious 4-year-old who started kindergarten learning how to read, I can say that being in a class with older kids was fine. More than fine, I almost skipped a grade and was always at the top of my class.

I, however, am not your kid. And if you really think your child needs another year of pre-school, go with your gut. After you've discussed the situation with your child's teachers, of course. ´╗┐Some children simply aren't emotionally ready to jump in with their peers and sit still and learn. Of course, you're not going to know unless you give them the chance.

Did you red-shirt your child?


Image via Elizabeth Albert/Flickr

education, in the news, kindergarten


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nonmember avatar lk

But haven't other studies shown that children who are older when they start school do better?

In my own experience, my son has a late July birthday, so he was one of the youngest in his class. His preschool teacher recommended we hold him back a year before Kindergarten, but we did not do it. We regretted it.

Finally, at the urging of a psychologist, we moved him back from 4th grade to 3rd grade, when he was making a school change anyway. It helped quite a it.

If I had it to do over, I would have put him in private Kindergarten when he was 5, then had another year before we had to make a real decision about it.

When he moved to public school at 6, we could have either put him on in 1st grade or he could have done Kindergarten again at the elementary school.

SandM... SandMsMama

I started kindergarten as a 4 yr old, simply because of my birthday. it was 10 DAYS past the public school cut off, and apparently my mom was the only one who thought to go against that, bc I was always the youngest (graduated at 17 and finished college at 19) I also did really well in school. so, thanks mom

tyrel... tyrelsmom

My son will be starting at 4. He's a November baby. I think he'll be ready. He'll probably be one of the biggest, even though he'll be one of the youngest, lol.

missn... missnickia

My state the kid need to be 5 by Sept 1st. My dd turned 5 the 15th. She will be turning 6 in kg so not fair.

Lynette Lynette

I have heard opposite studies.  Plus those summer birthdays that are sent young are more likely to be labeled ADHD, especially the boys.  We shouldn't rush kids into the desks

nonmember avatar KD

I have two kids with August birthdays (and two in-between whose Winter birthdays didn't leave us this choice) and with my son, I red-shirted and sent him at age 6. He is now 16, a Sophomore in high school and is an excellent student with goals for the future. I am so glad a kept him out that extra year and he did an additional year of pre-school, it was right for him. On th other hand my youngest had just turned five when she started because she was in need of intensive early intervention services for learning disabilities. She is the youngest in her class, but is a very social child who makes friends easily and because of her needs early KG was right for her. I think it depends on the child. My son needed that extra year and is thriving, my daughter needed extra help and the school environment and is also thriving.

kluka... kluka21227

PreK should be mandatory.

dandk... dandksmom321

I have a November baby too, but because of our school's cutoff, she just started & she's almost 6. She was totally ready last year and I am worried about her this year because I do not want her to get bored. I think most kids need a challenge to stay interested. My oldest was born in June, so he got to start right after turning 5 and has flourished.

Leanne Carnegie

Every child is different and more and more kids are waiting that extra year to start as kindergarten is getting  harder and harder.     I have winter birthdays thus far, so I don't have to worry about it... but I have several friends that are/have waited with their oct/nov babies.  

kluka-  Why on earth do you think pre-k should be mandatory and who would pay for it?

chris... chrissyann36

My oldest started K-5 at five but unfortunately  got Mono a month after school and had to be hospitalized for 4 weeks and missed the rest of the semester and even though we home-schooled it just did not prepare him for 1st grade at the level he needed to be.  So he just started over the next year.  He is now in the 3rd grade and is an honor roll student.

My daughter I deliberately red-shirted, academically she was fine, but she just was not ready socially.   She is very shy and tended to not use her "voice" and any time the spot-light  was put upon her she would freeze up.  The extra year in K-4 gave her the confidence she needed to be able to succeed.  She is now in the hybrid 1st/2nd grade class at seven and is doing wonderfully.  

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