Should I Start My Son Late to Kindergarten?

When my son was born in early August three years ago, there were many benefits -- we could immediately go outside (unlike with my daughter who was born in late January), we never had to take him out of a onesie for the first two months and generally people are just in better moods in the summer. But there was also one major drawback: Because he was born in August, he will turn five just days before the state Kindergarten cut off (September 1) which will make him almost one year younger than the older kids in the class.

Because of this, we are strongly considering two years of nursery school, one year of pre-K and placing him in Kindergarten the year he turns 6. This decision has not been popular among our friends. And then there are people on the other side, those who did "redshirt" their summer birthday sons and they all say: "If you don't do it, you will regret it."

So what is a mom to do?


This act of "redshirting" is a new phenomenon many attribute to competitive parents who want Junior to be smarter and more advanced than all of the other kids in class. Parents opposed to “redshirting” will say "Someone has to be the youngest and the least advanced," and they are right. But who wants it to be their kid?

As we mull this decision, we have taken enormous flak from our friends and family. Many feel it is just us wanting our son to feel superior while others have said we are nuts for even considering enrolling him at five. And then, of course, there are the economics. We are very lucky to be in a position to be able to afford an extra year of private preschool. Not everyone can. Because of this, the "redshirting" phenomenon puts upper middle class children -- who already had an advantage anyway -- even further ahead of their peers with less resources. Is that really fair? 

The answer: No. It's not. But he is also my son. The truth is, my son will be three this coming August. I have no idea if he is going to be ready for kindergarten in two years. Right now he loves trucks and firemen and dinosaurs and trains. He is not interested in letters (like his sister was at his age) or reading (which his sister was already doing) and that's OK.

Kindergarten is not what it used to be. Emily Glickman, the president of Abacus Guide Educational Consulting, a service that helps parents navigate private school admissions in Manhattan, told the Daily Beast: "Kindergartens across the country are getting rid of play areas and becoming more about reading and math."

These children sit at desks for seven hours with only 15 minutes of recess here and there, which would make my antsy son go crazy. Of course, we would consider waiting a year for him to develop more self-control.

Next year, he will start on the track to Kindergarten, entering his first year of preschool. Then he will go on to pre-K and then? Who know? This is an evolving decision. With my daughter it would be a no-brainer. She has always been academically advanced. But my son -- my baby -- is another story.

Whatever we decide, it will be the decision for our family, not anyone else's.

Did you redshirt your child? Think about it?




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