Friday, August 26, 2011


This post is a bit of an opinionated rant/letting off please take it as such. I know this is a controversial subject.

Peter has been coerced volunteered to be the head coach of Mr. T's soccer team. This is both a very good thing - Mr. T is super excited and a very bad thing - firefighting work schedule doesn't allow you to be at all the games and practices. Overall, we'll make it work. However, he came home last night with a roster for the kids on his team - all kids who will be attending kindergarten with Mr. T in a few weeks and I was dismayed to look at the birthdates and see that almost half the kids had summer birthdays and were held back a year meaning the day kindergarten starts, they will be 6 and possily turing 7 during the kindergarten school year.

This practice, for those who don't know, is called red-shirting and is kind of a trendy thing among affluent communities. Red-shirting in sports is holding a player back (usually in college) to give them an extra year of elidgibility. Red-shirting kindergartners means taking kids who (usually) have summer birthdays and holding them back a year.

I am extreamly opposed to this for a lot of reasons. First of all, the research doesn't support the supposed advantage. By about grade 3 or 4 it all evens out and kids who are red-shirted can actually fall behind academically due to the social issues of being older than everyone else in the class. As they get older, it brings on a whole host of other issues that I'm guessing kindergarten parents aren't thinking of. You have the first kid in the class to go through puberty, the first kid in the class who is driving and then you have an 18 year old supposedly living at home who has yet to even start their senior year of high school.

It skews the spectrum of students for each grade level. By entering kids who are technically too old for the grade, you end up raising academic and social expectations up above what is reasonable for kids who fall into the age group. Schools have an age cut-off for a reason. Unless there are some extreme circumstances going on, I think parents should respect that.

And then getting back to me and my family. Mr. T turned 5 in June. He is in the 30% for size right now. So already, he is going to be one of the youngest and smaller kids in kindergarten and if the playing field were level (i.e., only kids of appropriate age were starting class with him) I wouldn't worry about it. He's ready for kindergarten. He's not wildly ahead like Miss E was but she was also 8 months older than him when she started kindergarten. He's right where he should be though. Knows his letters and numbers, just about ready to read, able to kick a ball and has appropriate social skills. But now I feel like I'm sending him into a classroom that will have quite a few kid who are already 6 - and at this age a year makes a HUGE difference. Now, I'm nervous whereas I wasn't really before. I don't want him to feel like he's behind when really he's not, it just that other kids are inappropriately ahead.

Again, I know this is a super controversial topic. I also know that there are kids who have certain issues such as medical or behavior problems that would warrant red-shirting. I don't think half the kids on Mr. T's soccer team fall into that category though.


  1. Aye yae yae! All this here gramma can do is pray. And that I do--all the time for all of you. I am sad 'n sorry when life gets complex and so "squishy"-sigh...

  2. Oh my, I am right there with you. Owen is so small and skinny and young! He looks so vulnerable, but you know, kids are tough, right? I keep telling myself it will all come out in the wash!