We live in Indianapolis, Indiana, and I have a 7-year-old attending second grade in the public school here. Before we moved to Indiana, we were in California. Recently I have been hearing and reading about “red shirting” where parents knowingly hold back their child for a year from enrolling them in Kindergarten, thus giving the child an advantage to develop the academic, social and intellectual growth. This typically is done when children’s birthdays are close to the cut off dates of enrolling so that parents can avoid their child from being the youngest in the class. I just came across a TV article on red shirting and how it is becoming a trend among parents, simply to give their children the advantage.
I have personal experience with red shirting. My son was born on Nov 27, 2006, and when we went to enroll him in Kindergarten in California, the cut off dates in California was for children who were 5 on or before Dec 5. I knew my son would be the youngest in his class, but I personally didn’t see any advantage of holding him back one more year in preschool. When we moved to Indy, his current school had shorter cut-off date of September but since he was already enrolled into Kindergarten, the school allowed him to continue the same grade here. My sister, whose child who also fell under similar circumstances, decided to hold back her child for one more year before enrolling her in Kindergarten. So now my child and hers are in same grade.
I do see differences of holding back your child because of age cut-off. My niece is well ahead in her class and qualified for challenge classes. My son, though, did not qualify for challenge classes, and he is well ahead in his class even though he is the youngest. Physically, my son looks like a second grader and hence fits in his class with no issues. In fact, there are children shorter than him in second grade. Had he been held back, I am pretty sure he would have stuck out as a sore thumb. Developmentally I feel he is well developed to pick up things taught in second grade at this age. So I do not feel I am pushing him at all. Even though the article says younger kids are likely to be held back a year in school, I don’t think my son is impacted negatively because he is the youngest in his class. In fact, he competes on par or even above average compared to his whole class.
If you are planning to either push your child or hold him back a year, think through your child’s perspective. If your child has difficulties in picking up things quick enough or seems small for the age, I suggest holding back your child for a year. Remember, if you push your child, sometimes it may be difficult for them to scale up. So try to tutor them as needed and provide the required academic and emotional support for them to succeed.