Delaying a child's placement into kindergarten until he's more emotionally mature or intellectually prepared is sometimes called redshirting. Delaying kindergarten can cause problems for some children, particularly when their parents delay kindergarten for non-academic reasons, such as wanting a child to be bigger than all the other kids. However, when a child needs a little more time to mature, delaying kindergarten can be a sound parenting and educational decision that provides your child with a smooth transition into academic life.
Preschool-aged children are often scared of things that don't exist, afraid to be away from their parents and throw tantrums about things that can be incomprehensible to bystanders. Children who are unusually emotionally immature may benefit from delaying kindergarten. The delay gives their brains another year to grow and provides parents with time to help them learn better social skills. This prevents them from acting out when they do enter kindergarten and helps them avoid the stigma of being the classroom troublemaker.
Preparedness in Boys
Boys' brains tend to develop more slowly than their female peers' brains and this can cause some boys to struggle academically and act out in class. Parents are more likely to redshirt boys than girls, with the additional year giving boys more time to mature and catch up to girls. However, parents considering redshirting boys should ensure the boys are learning social and academic skills in their time outside of the classroom. Otherwise, according to the textbook "Developmentally Appropriate Practice," redshirting may do little more than keep children out of school and away from age-appropriate educational and social activities.
Higher Entrance Scores
Although children go to school to learn, what they already know when they get to school can affect their performance. Students who are behind other students may struggle and get discouraged, consequently leaning less during the year because they're stuck playing catch-up. Redshirting can help students start kindergarten ahead of the game. A 2005 Rand Corporation study found that redshirting increased math scores at the beginning of kindergarten by six points and reading scores by five points.
Helping Disadvantaged Children
Children from poor families face a number of disadvantages in education. They often don't have access to the same tools as other children, may not have well-educated parents and may be harmed by the stress of living in poverty. The Rand Corporation found that redshirting was particularly beneficial for disadvantaged children and that those who started kindergarten at age six showed marked improvement in math and reading skills at the beginning of kindergarten. These benefits tend to last throughout the academic year, which means redshirting provides disadvantaged students with a significant academic boost.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Opportunity Deferred or Opportunity Taken?
- Rand Corporation: Delaying Kindergarten
- Developmentally Appropriate Practice; Carol Gestwicki
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