Once upon a time if you wanted your kids to get ahead in school, then you started them early (like at 4 years old) or you hoped that they could skip a grade. But yesterday, I learned about a growing trend called Redshirting, where parents are holding their kids back from starting kindergarten until they are 6 years old. Many are doing this in order to give their kids an competitive edge.
The thought is that holding your child back will allow him/her to be among the oldest, most mature and brightest kids in his/her class. These parents are grooming young leaders and will do almost anything in order to give their child an advantage over other kids.
And that is exactly what I thought when I saw the segment about Redshirting on 60 minutes last night: “These people will do anything to give their kids a competitive edge.”
And that’s not always a bad thing.
Some parents pay for expensive private schools or tutoring while others tutor their own kids and give them extra work to do, all in the name of giving their kids a competitive edge.
Shoot, I have been trying to teach our 4 year old how to read this summer and she has not even started Pre-K yet.
But somehow, this Redshirting concept made me feel uncomfortable. If my child was ready for Kindergarten and was well adjusted…then I probably would not hold that child back just so that he could be the oldest in the class.
In reading up on Redshirting, it seems that there is not enough evidence yet to determine if it is helpful or harmful to kids yet. Some say the advantages they get from Redshirting will dissipate by the time they are in high school. Some even say that kids that have been Redshirted could have behavioral problems, especially if they are bored or feel alienated from their peers.
One of my kids was always ‘young’ for his/her age. While very smart, this child has always been less mature than his peers, always had social issues in school, and always played with younger kids. I really think this Redshirting concept could have benefited my child if I had known about it (and could afford an extra year of daycare..because that is a very real factor for most parents.)
Author of the bestselling book, Outliers, Malcom Gladwell says that the advantages that kids have while they are young make them better positioned throughout life. He calls this concept cumulative advantage and explains that it’s the idea that:
“a little extra nudge when you are six, means that you are better positioned when you are seven, which means you are better positioned when you are eight years old and so on…..”
While I did not read the book, the concept seems to make perfect sense to me. Which is why I am doing everything in my power to give my kids every advantage that I can give them. This is why we live sooooo far from downtown..because of the schools out here. It’s why we pay for extra curricular activities, it’s why we buy supplemental educational materials, ..it’s why we parent with a purpose.
BMWK Family – What do you think about this redshirting concept? Is it practiced in your area? Do you think parents are crossing the line in the name of giving their kids advantages? Would you Redshirt your child? What things have you done to give your child an advantage in life?