Redshirting

Published by Lori Pickert on February 10, 2011 at 10:41 PM

Holly Korbey’s son, Holden, was easy to spot in his kindergarten class — he was the one who actually looked kindergarten sized. “The other kids were just taller,” says his mother.

That’s because unlike his classmates, most of whom were six years old, Holden was only five — the traditional kindergarten age. But entering kindergarten at age six is becoming more and more common, say researchers. “My parents went to my son’s kindergarten and said, ‘The kids are so big! They look like they’re eight,’” says Korbey. 

Holding Kids Back from Kindergarten

Ancient topic, I know, but I came across this today and was amused. I thought — what better reaction to the push-down effect (turning Kindergarten into first grade, moving the K curriculum to preschool, and eliminating preschool altogether) than to send appropriate-age kids?

Hey, if preschool is now about desk work (horrifying but often true), then stay home an extra year to play house and finger paint. Since K is the now first grade, why not send actual first graders?

16 comments

Comment by Katherine on February 10, 2011 at 11:00 PM

What a wonderful idea!!

Comment by Luisa on February 11, 2011 at 02:24 AM

I just read this article yesterday and found it interesting. When I decided to keep one of my kids home for a year to spend time together while I decided to homeschool people thought I was crazy. What an insane thought huh spending 1 more year together in childhood? lol.
Thepart of the article that always rub me the wrong way is that some parents make the decsion to keep their boys back is because of sports. I'm always intrigued by families with boys about the decsion making revolving around sports. I agree with the mom in the article she doesn't even know what her son will like about sports.
If preschool, kindergarden are going hardcore academics enjoy the year with the 5 year old :)

Comment by se7en on February 11, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Classic!!! I love this post... isn't it so true!!! The times are changing back, we just call it something else!!! K is indeed the new first grade, preK is the new K and so on and so on...

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 11, 2011 at 12:49 PM

parents do delay because of sports, but more and more, they delay because of academics -- to give their sons, especially, one more year before they're expected to sit down and do desk work all day. redshirting as an anti-ADD-medication technique. :^/

Comment by Krista on February 11, 2011 at 05:51 PM

Hearing all this right now with my soon to be 5 year old. Wondering why I should hold him back when he's 5 and that USED to be the age to attend Kindergarten. He's a perfectly average 4 year old who is expected to be doing work I don't remember doing until 1st grade! I live in Texas. Delaying because of sports is a big deal. It's crazy to me.

Comment by Anne T. on February 12, 2011 at 12:49 AM

So, it looks like some parents are realizing they're kids are not ready for the curriculum being used in kindergarten. Shouldn't this trend tell school
Administrators something? What if everybody decided not to send their kid until
age 6? That would be interesting....

Comment by Cori on February 12, 2011 at 05:05 AM

We have a September baby (cut off here is Sept. 1st) and our pediatrician recommends that boys with a birthday in the summer wait an extra year. He said they are more mature and will be bigger for sports. Since I cannot help but associate schools with bullying I immediately thought, forget sports he'll be less of a target if he's bigger. Since he was very small at 2 yo I thought he'd be small...he's not small now and in the upper range for height. At 5 and 6 he wasn't ready academically. He's 7.5 now and homeschooled. He's just starting to get a good grasp on reading and feels good about his progress. I think we'd have a different story if he'd gone to school, even with redshirting. I like mixed ages for kids playing together but I find it interesting that my cousin put her daughter in kinder at 4 yo and boys are going in at 6 yo. You will have mixed ages of boys and girls. Let's hope these bigger boys have impulse control. Mixed sizes in a family or homeschool group where parents are teaching kids to CARE for one another is a lot different than mixed ages and sizes with little adult supervison. :-/

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 12, 2011 at 03:17 PM

anne t., that's exactly what i was thinking.

cori, i actually really like mixed-age classrooms (that's what i had at my school) but it doesn't shake out the same way at private school -- you have a mix of kids of both genders being born across the entire two or three years (as in, late fall babies with early spring babies - it does make a difference). there's real heterogeneity.

whether boys are being held out so they can be bigger for sports, be able to sit still and do desk work, or have stronger social skills, the real question is -- why aren't schools set up to deal with diversity? why don't schools meet kids where they are and help them progress? we have to worry about bright kids who will be bored if they have a late birthday, active kids who won't be able to concentrate if there's no recess, shy kids who don't have strong social skills .. why should we be worrying about any of these kids?! if schools were safe places where teachers met them where they were, saw them as whole people with a mix of strengths and weaknesses, and helped them reach their potential, .. well .. why don't we have schools like that?

Comment by Cori on February 13, 2011 at 12:42 AM

I agree. It would be fine with smaller class sizes and like you say, teachers with time and freedom to meet the student's needs instead having to focus on meeting standards set by people (committees/boards/God knows who) who have lost touch with the individual child. I am dreaming of that kind of school, one with plenty of time outdoors in real nature and plenty of time for play and creative discovery. I am so disheartened by the latest Free Range Kids post about the school that is getting picked on for violations and forced to cut tree branches, etc. I'm all for safety (wiring, mold, major structural cracks) but the violations are beyond ridiculous. My dream of the kind of school you and I would like most is very far away now. :(

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 13, 2011 at 02:44 PM

i wish more people would come together to *make* these schools. i opened and ran one for eight years. it was a dream school, but it was also a reality -- simply because i *made* it a reality.

there just aren't enough people willing to do the work of creating and maintaining these schools. it's very doable. but someone has to do it.

Comment by Anna on February 16, 2011 at 07:37 AM

Hey Lori! I love reading your blog, it is so inspiring. I hope you will forgive that I am writing an open thread-type question here (I was going to comment on kindergaten but something else came out!)

I am totally in the weeds now with my kids, so I thought that you (or some other parent) may have some advice. My oldest son (5 this week!) is absolutely ready to learn to read (he probably has been for months). He can sound out and spell words (he loves to write out the grocery list for me, for instance) but things are so crazy around here now with a 2 1/2 year old and a 2 month old baby that I haven't been able to be consistent with teaching him to read.

Now I know that he'll learn to read eventually, but his interest in learning to read is at a high point now and unfortunately it coincides with a really crazy time in our family life. I imagine that there are other people who have dealt with situations like this. How does homeschooling work when you have multiple kids? What do homeschooling parents do when they have younger kids who demand a lot of attention?

I feel like the best I can do is just get everyone out of the house so we can expend energy. So I'm not a whole lot of teaching, but a lot of walks and bike rides and "field trips." I think that is a better alternative to plopping them in front of the TV but I still feel like I'm not doing a very good job. The only solution I can think of is to put my 2 1/2 year old in preschool 2 days a week so I can have some one-on-one time with the older child. Do you have any wise words?

Comment by Louise Fitzpatr... on February 17, 2011 at 11:06 PM

Hi Lori - this isn't really a comment on your latest post but a plea to find the open thread comment you made back a couple of years ago to the lady who wanted to know how you get a project started with children of 3-5 who just want to play - imaginative pretend, home corner, art investigations...but not yet any strong interest in something that I can pick up and try to run with them on. HELP! I love your blog.If you have time to look at mine you will see that we work very much on the moment - and with play - and I would like to go deeper than that, not that I don't value the play that is happening.
Thanks
Louise

Comment by Lisa on February 24, 2011 at 05:17 PM

I'd truly HATE to be a little kid today in a school-pushing family. What a drag life would seem. For godness sake let them explore, play, nap, etc. They've got their whole lives to multi-task and sit at a desk if they want that!!!

Comment by Kerry on March 2, 2011 at 11:35 PM

I think, even when you make a dream school, maintaining it and keeping with the original goals can be very difficult, especially once you move beyond the original group of people who came together to raise the school.

We went to a charter school for 4 years before deciding to bring our kids home this year. The school has wonderful mission statements and goals. They have a lot of really great ideas, but the reality is very different. They still have to deal with a lot of the same issues that every other school does. High stakes testing, growing pains and budget cuts. Plus being a school that is chosen not assigned and who encourage lots of parental involvement (which is wonderful) they have the added stress of dealing with parents looking for something different from traditional schooling, but not necessarily with the same educational beliefs as each other.

I'm not saying we shouldn't try to raise schools that we believe in, this school is still an improvement on traditional public schools. And the things they have done have made an impact on other area schools, even if only to bring attention to the fact that parents want something else. But that the maintaining of the school can be even more difficult than creating it.

P.S. I'm all for redshirting, my oldest was almost 9 months older in Kindergarten then my third and at 5, 9 months is huge. We ended up pulling him out after 2 weeks of tears. And when I look back, I wish we would have waited a year before starting our 2nd, also a summer bday. She ended up continuing with school, but now I know things would have been so much better for her if we'd waited. Actually I think we should do away with Kindergarten all together and go back to 1st grade being 1st.

Comment by Amanda Morgan on March 5, 2011 at 03:58 AM

I completely agree! We're giving our summer birthday boy an extra year. Some people react as though "redshirting" is a way to get ahead- in athletics or academics- but I feel it's just a matter of making sure he's in the most appropriate setting for him. My argument was exactly the same as yours: If K is the new first grade, I'll just send them someone who's ready for first grade!

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 14, 2011 at 09:50 PM

hi, anna. :)

first, i would cut yourself a lot of slack -- a baby does require a flexible attitude.

next, teaching a 5yo to read -- a 5yo who *wants* to learn and is chomping at the bit -- is pretty easy and you can fit it into a regular day. no desk work required. choose a few helpful books to read at bedtime (along with your regular selections), get some magnet letters for the fridge (and/or cookie sheet) and foam letters for the tub, and you're off and running.

my first son learned to read pretty much from a single book, a Thomas the Tank Engine alphabet book. of course, i had to read it five billion times, but that is the price of education. ;)

there is a lot you can do to help him practice on his own -- the letters mentioned above, plenty of paper and different pens and pencils along with an alphabet poster, and lists of his favorite words: names of relatives, favorite toys, pets, etc., along with pictures to help him "read" them himself. cut-out letters are great to play with and tape or glue onto paper. these kinds of activities can be fit in around and with your other children.

re: preschool for your 2.5yo, that would entirely depend on whether it's a great opportunity for the 2.5yo. you probably don't really need to clear the decks to homeschool your 5yo, so just make that decision separately.

hope this helps a bit .. i'd be happy to talk about if more if you like!

hi louise. :) crikey, i will try to find the post/comment you are talking about. in the meantime, my advice would be to really pay attention -- and document -- the play they are doing. look for strong interests that you can feed and extend. that's really all project learning is -- digging into a subject deeper over a longer period of time. if they are playing at a particular thing with particular interest, you can start to feed that interest. let me know if you put your finger on something promising.

kerry,

"I think, even when you make a dream school, maintaining it and keeping with the original goals can be very difficult, especially once you move beyond the original group of people who came together to raise the school."

absolutely. i closed my school after 8 years. the problem is, i think, that you keep having to remake it from scratch. there are always new parents, and you are always needing to re-educate them about the school, its values and priorities, and their (parental) role. but the worst is having to train new staff. you really are always having to start over again at square one, and it's exhausting.

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