Many parents consider delaying the start of kindergarten so their children can mature academically, socially and emotionally during an additional year of preschool. There is much controversy surrounding the issue, and preschool teachers, kindergarten teachers and parents may have varying opinions. Parents must weigh the benefits of an additional year of preschool against the disadvantages of starting kindergarten a year later.
Reasons for Repeating Preschool
Parents may choose to send a child to an additional year of preschool for many reasons. Preschool teachers may recommend an additional year of preschool if they have questions about the child's readiness for school. Social difficulties, emotional immaturity and academic abilities all influence a child's ability to succeed and be happy in kindergarten. Reasons for choosing an additional year of preschool include crying easily or being unable to appropriately handle frustration, a lack of mastery in toilet training or issues with separation.
As Sheldon Horowitz reports on the website Get Ready to Read, "academic redshirting" refers to a decision to delay the start of kindergarten by one year, with hopes of giving a child time to grow academically, intellectually and physically. Instead of enrolling a child in kindergarten when he is 5, parents opt to wait until he is 6. Boys are more commonly redshirted, as are those “young 5s” who would begin kindergarten shortly after turning 5. The practice of redshirting is growing in popularity, as the academic demands on kindergarten students continue to grow.
Benefits of Repeating Preschool
According to a report published by the Public Policy Institute of California, children who delay the start of kindergarten for a year are far less likely to be retained later in school. As reported by Cathleen March in "Issues for Educational Research," kindergarten programs focus on academic instruction in a more structured format that was formerly the focus of first grade. The demands of rigorous kindergarten program may be stressful to an emotionally underdeveloped child. An additional year of play-based preschool can help. Research by Pardee Rand Graduate School Corp. notes that standardized testing scores of children who delayed kindergarten for one year were significantly higher.
Disadvantages to Repeating Preschool
Children who have repeated an additional year of preschool may be physically bigger than other students, especially as they grow older. Self-esteem may suffer, and there is no guarantee that a child will do better academically with an additional year of preschool. Teachers have a larger age range in a classroom and are forced to handle more developmental, behavioral and learning challenges. The cost of an additional year of preschool tuition can also add up to a substantial strain on a family’s budget.
- Public Policy Institute of California: Early Grade Retention and Student Success
- Get Ready to Read: Redshirting – A Moving Experience
- National Center for Educational Statistics: The Early Reading and Mathematics Achievement of Children Who Repeated Kindergarten or Who Began School a Year Late
- Issues In Educational Research: Academic Redshirting: Does Withholding a Child From School Entrance for One Year Increase Academic Success?
- Wisconsin Center for Education Research: The Pros and Cons of “Holding Out”
- Rand Corp.: Delaying Kindergarten
- Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images