My View: Kindergarten redshirting different for each child
November 12th, 2012
03:51 AM ET

My View: Kindergarten redshirting different for each child

Courtesy Barbara McClintockBy Donna McClintock, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Donna McClintock is the chief operating officer of Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc. She has served in a leadership role in early childhood education for more than 29 years and has been in a senior executive leadership role for more than a decade. She has authored several books on the topic of early childhood education, including “The Heart Connector Series.”

I often read materials that approach a subject as if there were only one solution. Such is the case of “redshirting” children for kindergarten, which is the practice of holding a child back from school until he turns six. There is certainly a best answer for each child, and parents and educators must determine what that answer is by considering his individual needs and development and not by blindly following a trend.

No matter WHAT you decide to do, we know for sure that parents must understand that a child’s brain cannot be redshirted or held back. The child’s experiences during the fifth and sixth year of life are extremely important because the brain continues to develop and form synapses, and learning is at an all-time high.

It is the responsibility of parents and educators to challenge, nurture, inspire and ignite in our children a love of learning and exploration during this critical time. How do you do this when formal education in a school system begins as an individual choice for each child? There are several key factors to consider, but the child’s individual needs are the trump card in this decision.

Most research clearly shows that any gaps in levels of success between younger and older children are usually bridged by the third grade. This leaves parents to wonder if there is an advantage to holding their child back. I offer the position that the type of program your child is in during the first year of formal school is really the key to success.

Each child deserves a developmentally appropriate setting that understands how children 5 to 6 years of age learn, whether that is a formalized kindergarten program, the home environment provided by parents, or another alternative.

I have studied how children learn and develop and have been in the field of early care and education for more than 30 years. The greatest part of my knowledge comes from my own children, my grandchildren, and the children I have the honor of serving each day. They are incredible teachers.

Without a doubt, parenting my own three children has been one of the most surprising experiences of my life. As a little 1, my son was loud, funny, and never stopped. My daughter was quiet, reserved, and graceful. Then, child No. 3 broke ALL the rules. I was naïve to think that what worked for one child would automatically work for another, and it took me months to figure out that I had to parent each one in completely different ways as they passed through phases that I thought I knew how to handle. Each child is unique.

There simply isn’t a manual on how to make critical decisions for children. Just when you think you have it figured out, your child will completely confuse you.

Therefore, with everything that has been written about kindergarten redshirting, it can be extremely difficult for parents to find clear guidelines for making an informed decision.

Here are some questions to consider:

1. First and foremost, you must answer this: If you hold your child back, what will she do during this time of rapid growth and learning? You cannot redshirt the brain. If not formal kindergarten, what do you intend to do for her that will inspire, excite, and motivate her during this time of rapid growth and learning?

2. Is it your need or your child’s need to wait to enter kindergarten? Ask yourself if you are holding your child back for any of these reasons:

• Are you feeling pressure from family and friends because it is the current trend? If your friends were sending their child to kindergarten, would you send yours? If your answer is “yes,” perhaps the answer should be “yes” for your child regardless of what your friends do.
• Are you holding your child back because of sports? If so, is the sport the child’s passion or yours? You may be attempting to live out your unfulfilled sports dream vicariously through your child.
• Are you holding your child back to protect him from normal childhood behaviors of other children? For example, are you afraid he will be teased because he is small in size? If he is ready in all other areas, shielding him is probably not the answer. Equipping him to cope with other children might be a much better solution and will also teach him skills he will need for the rest of his life.
• Are you worried about how you will handle the separation? Remember, the decision should be about the child.

3. Are there resources available within the school that he could benefit from or do you feel that the program is simply too structured? We know how children learn before the age of 6. If the program is not a true hands-on, positive, developmentally appropriate program, then perhaps redshirting is a good choice or choosing a different school might be an even better one. Kindergarten programs vary, and it is important that your child is prepared for first grade. If you choose a kindergarten program outside of the school where he will attend first grade, you will need to work with the school to ensure readiness. This is not allowed in some private schools—children must be accepted into the kindergarten program in order to move into the first-grade program. Make sure you are informed when you make your decision.

Research thus far does not support that holding children back has long-term, positive outcomes. A 2008 report by Harvard University’s Susan Dynarski and David Deming indicates that little evidence supports that children who have been allowed to mature for another year will benefit more. In fact, as the report states, being the oldest among classmates really has no lasting, positive effect on how a child succeeds in life. Their self-concept and acceptance by peers are about the same, as are teacher ratings of behavior for oldest (redshirted) and youngest (not redshirted) children.

In previous research retrospective and cross-sectional analyses show redshirts do not do as well as their peers when it comes to behavior problems. Although redshirting does not seem to cause increased rates of social and emotional difficulty, it does not appear to solve them either. And none of the studies that have ever been done prove that redshirting solves societal issues.

Finally, the most important point yet, once the decision is made, do not hesitate to amend it if you feel that your child is not thriving. Remember that wonderful slogan, “The mind is a terrible thing to waste”? While it may be too late to get him into the original kindergarten program you wanted to, do not allow him to waste this critical year of opportunity.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Donna McClintock.

soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. rob breisch

    I can honestly say by my own example that its far better not to red shirt your children-you are causing a life of issues from being not good enough for anyones standards,and your children will face ridicule all there lives about it.
    So do them and yourself a favor-advance them and if required spend more time helping them learn.You can destroy a child
    by just setting them back like its no big deal.YOur child is not a toy nor a rat – so treat them with more respect and dignity and reach out and help them along-but dont make them repeat any grade!

    November 13, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  2. Susan

    My son was enrolled in Montessouri school at age 2. When it came time for him to be "officially" at Kindegarten level. They tested him and opted to "skip" the grade. He jumped to 1st. He was quite proud of his accomplishment. However, at the age of 10 we discovered he had a benign tumor in his head. Three years and 5 surgeries set him back. We ended up having to make the difficult decision of holding him back a grade even with two years of one-one tutors. He is now a junior in High School and "being held back" still feels like a stigma to him. He never talks about the fact he never went to kindegarten. He is actually on age level with his peers but he feels like he failed.

    I recommend that any parent really review the options. If it is done. Do this as EARLY as possible, if it is kindegarten the child most likely will not remember it....age 10... he/she definitely will....

    November 13, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  3. Kari

    I am a Young 5 teacher. I think this article and even the phrase 'red-shirting' is misleading. In my school district we recommend Young 5s for children who will not turn 5 until after the start of the school year. The alternative is having a 4 year old in kindergarten. 6 months can be a huge developmental difference and MOST 4 year olds are not ready for kindergarten. So the end result is a child who will, the following year, enter kindergarten at age 5 and will then turn 6 after the start of school. I have never seen a 7 year old in a kindergarten classroom (unless there are other cognitive delays or concerns). Is it different in other school districts?

    November 13, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Wendy

      What is wrong with a 4year old in Kinder if they are ready? The message in this article is that each child is unique and individual so forcing all kids who aren't 5years before September into a jrK may not be right for all. My daughter who will likely be valedictorian of her class this year and an athlete went at 4 years old. No regrets ever along the way. It is individual as this article points out. It would have been much worse putting a child with a mature learning ability into an immature environment just because of a number on their birth certificate.

      November 13, 2012 at 11:29 am |
      • Kari

        My comment said "MOST" 4 year olds are not ready. I did not say "ALL". Of course some are, but they are few and far between. There is a lot to consider; social and emotional maturity as well as academics and attention span. Think about the difference between a 6 month old baby and a one year old. That 6 month old is barely sitting up, but the 1 yr old is crawling, walking, saying words. 6 months of development in early childhood makes a huge difference. I don't see the need to put a 4 year old in kindergarten when it is geared, developmentally for 5 year olds. Give them the time to grow a little and feel more successful in the end. Is there anything wrong with that?

        November 16, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • NP

      I'm surprised you've never seen a 7 yr old in K. My twin boys have an April b-day. They started K having turned 5 the previous April but if we had redshirted them they would've turned 7 in April during K.

      My kids weren't due to be born till end of June but came 12 wks early. Thank goodness they have no lasting effects so we saw no reason to keep them from starting K at 5. But it bugs the heck out of me that so many kids in their classes (they're now in 6th grade) are so much bigger, so much older. If everyone would just send their kids to K when they're 5 then no one would have to worry about their child being smaller, less mature, etc. They'd all be (relatively) equal.

      November 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  4. wow

    Parents holding kids back...why not wait till they are 10...then you can brag how smart they are in grade one.

    As for the ones that do is for "sports" reasons...well...you know those kids are going to be shovel ready workers once schools out.

    November 13, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  5. Missy

    Thank you for writing such an important article. I appreciate that you used scientific data to help support parents in the decision making process.

    November 13, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  6. Jeanne

    What really annoys me is the parents who hold their kids back, so their kids are more than a year older than my kid, and then they claim that the curriculum isn't challenging enough. That is because your 7 !/2 year old is supposed to be doing second grade work, not first grade. They put their kid in kindergarten at well over 6 years old, and can't understand why at the beginning of the school year they are working on letters and letter sounds. So then the kid needs differentiated instruction, special trips to the library, and reading enrichment instead of sittlng in the 1st grade classroom where they belong. Meanwhile my age appropriate 5 year old summer birthday learns at the pace of the curriculum, because that is the age it is designed for. No, she's not special or advanced like your kid, but hey she's a year and a half younger, and would have gone nuts being stuck in preschool another year. I stil think my kid is getting the better end of the deal,

    November 13, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Amy

      Well put, Jeanne. It's a huge trend in Texas, and this is the scenario we have experienced as well. Now we have parents holding their summer birthdays back simply because they don't want their kids' peers being so much older.

      November 13, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • NP

      I totally agree w/ you!

      November 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • chelle

      The cut-off in my area of Canada is December 31. My child started kindergarten at 4 and did not turn 5 until November. She was in pre-school for two years prior to that in French Immersion, her kindergarten was French Immersion as well. I think most children do quite well, you need to observe your child and consult with the school you are sending your child to.

      November 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  7. Todd

    I would consider myself fairly successful with a Masters degree. However I was held back in Kindergarten. My school had a class called pre-primary for these students. Being held back isn't a big deal, going further you tend to take the more advanced classes in school, also during elementary school I was pushed back to a less advanced lessons for a couple of classes. By 7th and 8th grade I began to catch my steam and I went further. Parents shouldn't worry much about allowing your child to wait an extra year. Once they get older the fact that they had to take a couple of year doesn't say anything. In most cases it will just help them.

    November 13, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  8. Nate

    I am a 28 year old financial professional that was held back a year before kindergarten. At the time it was a family norm because we are a physically small family. All of the males were held back except for a few. Looking back I am so thankful that I was held back; I had an amazing experience at a Montessouri school in Iowa City, IA and still have vivid memories of activities that I took part in that I would have never had in Kindergarten. As I grew older I was one of the oldest in my class. There are definitely pressures when you are the first to drive to be involved in activities (both legal and illegal) that might create the opportunity to get into more trouble than the average fresh/soph in High School. I am so thankful that my parent held me back because I was able to compete in Soccer, Basketball, and Football. If I had been in the grade ahead of me I would have never been able to compete in Jr. High and Fresh year of highschool. As long as you have a plan for your child, do what you think best and forget about what any doctor/teacher says!

    November 13, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  9. JC

    In this state, the school has little say over who can be held back; it is entirely up to the parents. A good many of our kindergarteners show up without the behaviors that will allow them to succeed, and with the behaviors which make it hard to teach others. You don't need to write books about something that takes the average teacher about 30 seconds to realize. When you advance your child, despite indications that you should not, you push social development before cognitive development, which many experts now hold as interdependent. That means your child may not have the skills to be successful at grade level. And contrary to the old saying, it will not work out in the wash. It does not help that the average adult here functions with what amounts to an eighth grade education. Mostly, we end up with middle school aged children who are reading at third or fourth grade level, rendering grade appropriate textbooks and reading material useless. If you really, really care about your child, take an interest in them early. Read to them, and encourage them to at least become familiar with letters and counting. DO NOT PLOP THEM IN FRONT OF A TV SCREEN, and leave them unattended. Talk about what you watched. Those of you who will not accept responsibility for your parenting (or lack thereof), those of you who switch schools every half year because your child "doesn't fit in," and those of you who hold the school responsible for fixing YOUR mistakes are the cancer that is killing American education.

    November 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  10. Mama Marconi

    I think that this issue would be solved by eliminating aged-based classes. If you think your kid can do well in Kindergarten at four you should be able to test in and from that point on classes should be based on ability- NOT AGE. We're currently looking at moving because our school district has no differentiated curriculum within their grades. We had my oldest IQ tested and the psychologist urged us to get her into a challenging curriculum...or deal with disengagement. A ability instead of age based class would eliminate the urge to redshirt kids and also end "early promotion" of kids. While it would take more work on a school admin's part to figure out where a child should be (as opposed to just dividing up a group of similarly aged kids into same sized groups) it would be better for children across the board.

    November 13, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  11. Angela

    When my daughter was ready for K (she had just turned 5) she was socially on target, but having a hard time with her letter sounds (the result of chronic ear infections). I choose to start her anyway. I regret it. Most people held theirs back just to do it. While she is now in 4th grade but reading on a mid 5th grade level, she is now socially/physically behind. Many of the kids are hitting puberty and talk about boys/girls nonstop. My child is still very much a child.

    November 13, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • GoodMom

      My son was an ear infection kid an I learned that they seem to always be socially immature. Do some research. Look into FastForWord auditory processing therapy.

      November 13, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  12. GoodMom

    Best decision we ever made for our son who is now 21 was to hold him back from kindergarten even though his BD was late April. He had chronic ear infections as a toddler and ended up getting four years of speech therapy and some auditory processing therapy. We found a church with a MDO program that had a class of other five year olds, all boys, for him to spend that year in and then he started Montessori school. We have to recognize that boys learn differently than girls and I believe that Montessori is a better environment than in a classroom where kids have to sit down, shut up and stand in line at a young age. My daughter also thrived in Montessori.

    November 13, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  13. watergirl

    Wow, all the gifted and amazing children everyone on here has, is wonderful. *rolls eyes*

    November 13, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  14. Sara

    The ONLY choice is what is right for your child. Both my children have later birthdays that would cause them to be younger in their classes. My daughter did a pre-k program and was ready for kindergarten, I knew she was ready, she was reading and loved to play with her peers. My son however needed to wait, and I knew he did. He would not even hold a pen and needed more time to just play and explore before the "sit down" part of school. With him I was a bit torn because most of his friends would be moving into kindergarden. I put him in a play based pre-k program where there were short spurts of "sit down" project time but mostly play based activities. My daughter turned 5 just before kindergarten started, my son turned 6 just after kindergarden started. Each child needed me to make a different choice for their future and both are doing very well in school now. I know in both choices I made the right choice for who they are.

    November 13, 2012 at 9:12 am |
  15. Generalista

    "Most research clearly shows that any gaps in levels of success between younger and older children are usually bridged by the third grade. "

    This is just plain wrong. CNN should not publish such nonsense.

    "I have studied how children learn and develop and have been in the field of early care and education for more than 30 years. The greatest part of my knowledge comes from my own children.."

    So, if you studied this (evidently, without much success), why so you resort to anecdotal information?

    November 13, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Athena6515

      If you read down further it has a link to the study proving that sentence to be true.

      November 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  16. expertinfo

    once they start school, do not "hold them back" if you want them to start school at 6 that is fine, but once they start, stick to it and put them in the next grade each year, no exceptions. its not like they learn anything academic in grade school anyway and "holding back" once they start school is damaging and nothing else.

    November 13, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • btldriver

      If you don't think your child will learn anything academically in school, then why do you send them there? why don't you teach them at home to help them have the academic experience? I think you should put them in school at the necessary age but if, by certain grade levels, they don't meet certain standards in reading, writing and math then hold them back a year with a focus on those areas of needed improvement. As a teacher, I see plenty of students who probably could have benefitted from being held back a year or two in order to get additional instruction in math reading and/or writing so they can be successful in high school and the life afterwards.

      November 13, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Tom, Ton, the Other One

      @expertinfo

      Agreed. So many parent here who think they are educational professionals. And yet...most of their stories are self serving and show little benefit to the child.

      November 13, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • BeenThereDoneThat

      Way to generalize. Some children may start but then realize that may be they should have done a second round of pre-k or k. It's not for the armchair parents to decide -it's up to the school and the parents as a team to decide what is best for the child. My son did k, then first and then, after much testing and consideration – we decided that he wasn't ready to start second – so we, as a group, retained him in the first grade. He's doing fine now but had we let him move on to second, it would have been a nightmare for him.

      November 13, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • jamie

      this is not true, these are the years you learn to read up to 3rd grade you are learning to read after your reading to learn so if a child is pushed on they will be lost and left, i have spoke to professors who have college students who need tutoring because they can not read....

      November 13, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  17. J

    My parents waited an extra year to put me in Kindergarten, and then I ended up skipping 2nd grade because it was apparent I was at a much higher level of math and reading compared to what the class was teaching. You can always correct later, and I imagine it might be easier to skip a grade than having to repeat one. Plus, don't rely on schools to teach your kids basic stuff. Just because they aren't in Kindergarten doesn't mean you can't teach them to read and write and do basic math in that extra year.

    November 13, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  18. Keith

    We took advantage of a program at our son's preschool called 'enrichment', which is basically a third year of preschool, with more extended hours, while he was 5, because he's a summer baby, and we felt he wasn't quite ready socially. He's in Kindergarten this year as a 6 year old, and he's flourishing. I was put ahead as a kid ( skipped third grade ) and I didn't turn 18 until my second semester of college, and it made highschool and that first year of college more difficult. As a boy, it's not great to get your driver's license a year after everybody in your class, among other things....

    November 13, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • Mama Marconi

      How bad was it exactly? Just curious because that is the option our school district is giving us for our oldest daughter. No enrichment...just early promotion. Physically she looks older and I think mentally she'd be a little more challenged but it's the social aspects that I'm worried about.

      November 13, 2012 at 10:20 am |
      • PrincessBride

        For me, the hardest part was when they raised the drinking age from 18 to 21 🙂 All my friends turned 18 before this went into effect, and were grandfathered through. I turned 18 after it went into effect. It was a bummer in college when all my friends could get into bars and I couldn't. Realistically, was it that bad being the youngest? Not really. It might be tougher on a guy, but I didn't see it as that big a deal. But then things like getting my license later weren't a big problem, since there was no car for me to drive anyway.

        November 13, 2012 at 11:07 am |
      • Crost01

        Mama Marconi -

        It depends on which grade is being skipped as well as the current maturity of your child. I tend to believe that the earlier the grade is skipped, the better. It ensures the child can catch up socially and mentally before growing up. I also think the child should want to skip a grade... no matter the age. If the child is forced to do so, the bitterness will only hurt him/her later in life; in fact, skipping the grade might become counterproductive.

        I attended a public school through 6th grade, and then a private school for 7th and 8th grade. When I rejoined the public school district after 8th grade, I skipped 9th grade. My parents, my counselor, and I all supported this move. From my standpoint, it meant I didn't have to be with the same group of bullying classmates I'd had in 6th grade, but from my parents' standpoint, it meant I could take classes like trigonometry and chemistry.

        However, after that first year of high school, my parents then decided that I should graduate as a high school junior, leaving me 2 years in high school. They wanted me to do this so I could be differentiated when it came to college admissions. What happened is that I graduated from high school at 15, and missed out on having a senior year, just to plan where my life was going, and enjoy senior perks like open campus lunch and taking community college courses. Because my birthday was in late August, I started college two days after I turned 16... and I'd had no time to adjust socially. Plus, I was bitter at being pushed to graduate from high school early, so I spent the first two years in college rebelling, skipping class, and making life mistakes left and right. I was lucky in that I was able to turn it all around at the age of 18, but it would have been much easier to let me graduate at 16 instead of 15 and hopefully skip some of that turmoil.

        November 13, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  19. Tevo

    Let's not forget that years ago kids weren't learning to read in kindergarden...we played with blocks and we drew pictures and things like that. Now, kindergarden is more of what 1st grade used to be. I waited until my sons were 6, and never regretted it.

    November 13, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Heidi

      I totally agree. I don't see that kids will miss ANYTHING by being held back a year. I had a teacher tell me, "I have never met anyone who regretted holding their child back a year. But I have met many who regretted sending their child too early." What they do they miss if you send them at 5? They miss free learning and play. That is what really develops a mind. The ability to explore, question and learn without structure builds free thinking. I think this article is pretty biased

      November 13, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Generalista

      You are absolutely right.

      The learning and behavioral pressure especially on young boys is ridiculous, and unfortunately leads to failures very early on in the system

      November 13, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Jeff S

      How many years ago was that? I started Kintergarden at 4 years old in 1980 (turned 5 late in October), and it was a mix of reading (learning the alphabet and listening to reading for most of the kids), playtime, and the teacher managing things like kids peeing in their pants and helping them tie their shoes. There was a wide disparity in where kids were at in their learning, etc., and it had very little to do with age. I was the youngest in my class, and one of only 2 kids of about 20 who could read at all – most were still learning the alphabet. By 2nd grade, they wanted me to skip a grade, which would have eventually meant me graduating high school at 16 years old. I talked about it with my parents, and they agreed with my wish to not skip a grade.

      My point is, if I didn't start kintergarden until 5 or 6 years old, I would have been bored out of my mind, and probably would have hated school. Sitting through a teacher trying to drill the ABC's into kids after I had already been reading on my own for 2 or 3 years would have resulted in an extreme disdain for school.

      I think parents should get their kids ready for K by 5 years old, and by then, most kids should be able to read. If not, you're holding your child back profoundly. My "head start" meant that from day 1 I was at the top of my class, classes made up of kids mostly a year older than me, and was able to breeze through school all the way through an MBA program. For those few kids who are just naturally slower to develop, despite parents putting in the effort to help their children learn, it makes sense to slot them differently. After all, a kid who doesn't know the alphabet in 1st grade can't participate in much of any normal 1st-grade learning and will be behind for the rest of their school "career."

      November 13, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  20. Stacy

    I held my son back but what happened was this. He went to kindergarten then he went to pre-first grade which was a all day program then he went to first grade. It turned out to a blessing as his birthday is August 1 and school started Aug 25th so he was really young. He excelled in school and graduated with a 3.8. He is now a fine outstanding young man serving our military.

    November 13, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Grey lady

      Dear dic,
      Your parent should have used an IUD.

      November 13, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • vet man

      I would dare you to show your face. Then I'd kick it in.

      November 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • jamie

      dic, there is something very wrong with you, did you wiggle out of your straight jacket you belong in.........

      November 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • jamie

      Stacey, sounds like you were in tune with what was best for your son as parents we know our children's needs, be sure to thank him from my whole family for his service to our country, all who serve and their families sacrifice so much, my thoughts and prayers are with them all........

      November 13, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  21. Marti58

    I'm sure we should've kept my son back a year. During "circle time" he stood up and went to the window to look outside – which greatly upset the teacher. His hand was not big enough to hold a regular pencil, so he was given a giant pencil for which he was ridiculed for, he didn't really know where he was, he couldn't follow instructions "properly" – and on top of everything he really was the shortest kid in the class.
    When he got into first grade the teacher was surprised he didn't know how to write – "kindergarten is the new first grade, other kids are much smarter than him"..
    His school years were disastrous (although he's a very bright child with a high IQ)..he's in a special high school now, where the student/teacher ratio is 8 to 1..he's doing fantastic academically, but is having lots of difficulties emotionally, he suffers from anxiety and he's a highly sensitive child. After all he was bullied for years by kids and teachers alike – he simply was not ready for anything other then play at such a young age.

    November 13, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  22. profart

    Six? I entered kindergarten at 4! Some kids need to get there sooner, others later. Since individuals develop at their own pace, so should entering school- not based on the child's age, but on their readiness.

    November 13, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Mary

      I was also four (November birthday, so turned five a few months later) and excelled throughout school. In fact, I was bored much of the time (even with "extra credit" work). It drives me crazy that people don't get this choice isn't as simple as "boys should get an extra year" or "no child suffers if held back." I would have been an absolute nightmare for my teachers if I'd been held back another year because a bored child is typically a troublemaker.

      A major part of the issue is the wide variety of classroom/teaching styles and the growing disparity in ages within a kindergarten classrom. Perhaps we should be reexamining how these classes are structured instead of keeping children from school at a time when their minds, as the authors point out, are developing so rapidly.

      November 13, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  23. Ed

    Donna, While I enjoyed your article, I believe you missed an essential reason some choose to redshirt their children. As in my wife and my case, while it may appear to be for sports it is in fact more of a social setting rationale. Our son's birthday was on the proverbial bubble or border of just making him eligible for kindergarten which would make him the youngest in his class. Combine that with the fact he would just miss the cutoff birthday day for youth sports, meaning all kids he played youth sports with would be a grade behind him causing an awkwardness at school as far as a social environment. We also factored into account his emotional maturity which we felt could use another year of culturing as he cried everyday and would not get on the bus for preschool. We had the benefit of a kindergarten readiness program and in the end It was the best choice we could have ever made, he is 11 now and thriving socially as well as academically, This wasn't to make him better at sports this was about the next twelve years of his life as a person,

    November 13, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  24. Scott B

    I know holding my kid back would be a very last resort. Regardless of what the article says, I went to school and remember how some of those held back kids were treated. About the only time it was a good thing was when they had a car before most of the class. Also, unless the kid simply can't cut it, I'd rather they be in a learning environment that challenges them more than I would want them to get better grades.

    November 13, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • Amy

      I agree – everyone says "each child is different," and that's certainly true to some extent; however, there is a tendency for some parents to think that their child is particularly unique, different, special, etc. and must be treated differently (ie. holding him/her back) because of that dazzling uniqueness. I can see that in some of these posts, where parents feel compelled to tell everyone how remarkably smart, amazing, etc. their child is and how the school system just can't accommodate his/her gifted abilities...and so on and so on and so on... I don't say that I "pushed my son through," I say that I "signed him up for K at an appropriate age – 5." He was and still is the youngest in the class because of so many kids that were held back – but he's still doing great, getting along well with his friends, and so on. He is now in grade 5 and we have not had a single issue with the age gap. By this age, you can't tell the difference. With respect, I think some parents (especially moms) need to stop obsessing about this. Kids are more capable than many parents give them credit for. And I think many parents are unhappy with this realistic article simply because it doesn't "back up" their beliefs or choices.

      November 13, 2012 at 9:31 am |
      • Kay

        I was the child who was older when I went to kindergarten, I missed the cut off date to go the first year since my birthday is in January. I was almost 6 when I went to school, however our school district had a "Head Start" program that I attended, I did Saturday school for 2 years and 2 years of the Head Start program and I think I was better off for it. When I was in 1st grade there was a group of us that were having issues with reading, after the teacher took the time to evaluate and talk to us there were 9 of us that tested out of the 1st grade reading program and into the second half of the second grade reading program.
        I think it was the best thing for me, I was over 18 when I graduated and I have alway gravitated towards my older peers but as far as academically I was in a better place by not starting until I was a bit older. My Daughter shares my same birthday so she will have the same experience, I am hoping to find a head start type program for her and then a saturday program for her so that she can learn. She is almost 2 and I read to her everyday and we talk to her like a person not a baby, we also are teaching her letters, colors, animals and sounds. As parents we must realize that we are our Child's first teacher and their teacher for life so we have to start young and remain engaged and active in their school "career"

        November 13, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  25. Rachael

    I was an October baby – the oldest of three kids. My reading level was above normal. I was quiet and obedient. I graduated high school with a 3.778. I started college and dropped out three semesters in. It took me until the age of 26 to return and finally finish, while divorcing my first husband, taking care of two kids, and working full time. I did well in school as a kid, but wasn't prepared to be an adult. My sister and brother were both 5 before starting kindergarten. Neither one is less intelligent than I was, but my sister was held back in 3rd grade and there was talk of doing the same with my brother. And still, they turned out pretty much the same. Took some time to finish college. Had to find ourselves. Going in early made very little difference from my brother who went in at 5 1/2 and stayed the course, or my sister who also went in at 5 1/2 and was held back at one point.

    So, when the school pushed me to hold myu son back because he was a September baby, I thought long and hard. He is a lot like me in that school comes easily to him and he likes to be the "smart" one. But, he was a lot like my sister and brother – a bit lazy. I finally decided to tell the school "no", many, many times. They could give me no really good reason other than he was young. After listening to their arguments, I realized it was because he didn't test well – not because he didn't understand the material, but because he couldn't have cared less about the test. He jsut wanted to play and the tests were in the way. Since the schools receive money based on the test results of their students, this was their pat answer. My answer was to stop letting the kid get away with being lazy, hold him to the standards and rules of the classroom, and expect something from him. Only one teacher up through 5th grade understood that. Now, he's in middle school and gets better grades than his sister (a senior) does without trying. My worry now is that it's too easy like it was for me and he will become bored and aimless.
    My point being, every kid is different. The teachers and administrators tend to try to shove them into a category, and I understand why. They have to meet standards. They have over 30 kids they will know for only 9 months. As the parent, knowing and understanding my children, it ismy responsibilty to make the best decision I can for him and try to get the understanding and assistance of the teachers. I dd not get much, but my kid has turned out pretty okay so far. I'm proud of both my babies and can't wait to see what they will accomplish.

    November 13, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  26. Laura

    I've got two October birthday kids, and I live where the cut off is Dec. 1. I agonized over the decision for the first one–a child who was more than ready to start Kindie as a 4-year-old. I was projecting all the issues that could befall her if she was the very youngest or very oldest throughout her school career, but then I took some very good advice: Is she ready to go to Kindergarten right now? The answer was yes, and she is doing great. High academic achiever, lots of friends, just a good experience all the way around. With my second, it was different. He had a health issue that made me think it would be better for him to be a bit more mature throughout his school career and the deal was sealed when his PreK teachers agreed that socially he wasn't quite ready for primetime. He stayed in half-day PreK one more year, and he was clearly "ready" when the Kindergarten start date rolled around the next year. He's never had any issues at all. He is ahead academically, so we do have to work hard to make sure he is being challenged, but, so far, we've had teachers rise to the challenge. Two kids, two individuals, two different decisions, and two good outcomes.

    November 13, 2012 at 7:47 am |
  27. Momofalmost3

    What irks me is that I don't get a choice in whether or not I want to hold my child back. My daughter is an October baby, and in my state they have to be 5 on or before Sept 1 to enter kindergarten. They don't look at the child as an individual, just their date of birth. She is more than ready to attend K. My bday is in late November, and back when I was going to school, they didn't have that stupid rule. My mom recognized that I was ready for K. I was one of the youngest in my class and I thrived; I was even placed in gifted classes. My point is that children should be looked at as individuals and if they're ready, they're ready.

    November 13, 2012 at 6:45 am |
    • Momofalmost2

      Momofalmost3, in many cases you can appeal to the school board. When I was a kid, the cutoff was November. My mom fought for me (January birthday) based on my readiness and the school board eventually caved. You just have to demonstrate that the child is ready. Maybe it's too late for your little one? If not, give it a try. We are doing Montessori with our 2 year old because he IS precocious and because we want him to learn at his own pace, something that public schools are not always so good at. (Yes, it's expensive, but in our area barely more so than day care.)

      November 13, 2012 at 7:56 am |
      • The Sports Widow

        That's not the case in all states. Our state has a cut-off date of Sept. 1 as well, and our daughter has a Sept. 6 birthday. We called the state to see what we would do, and in Kansas at least there is no appeal process possible. We were told, however, that we could enroll her in First Grade next year instead since Kindergarten isn't required in our state.

        November 13, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • ambot

      You can get your child tested if he / she is advanced or is a gifted child at the testing centers. 😉

      November 13, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • JG

      That's a tough deal. Your daughter may be able to skip a grade later on. And, you could start her in a private school and then move her to the public school after a year.

      November 13, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  28. Nancy A.

    My son turned 5 one week before the cut-off. He is in a full day Kindergarten and seems to be doing well, considering he is the youngest in the class. Last year, his pre-school teacher recommended that I hold him back and keep him in Pre-K one more year. Pre-K was only 3 hours long, while Kindergarten was a full day. My husband and I agreed, that if our son has to be held back, it will be when we're sure he's not keeping up with the kids and Pre-K is not that time. He would have been bored going over the same things and not getting challenged. He has had no problems so far in Kindergarten. I'm happy with my choice and it was comforting to read this article of support for my decision.

    November 13, 2012 at 6:28 am |
  29. RunfortheHills

    When I realized that both of my kids are smarter than their teachers, I pulled them out of public school and started homeschooling them.

    The older one went to college at 15 and is a Senior now at 17 and is already set to start his Ph.D. work next year, and the younger one is going next year at 16 – both in Engineering.

    For their last year in public school, I kept being "invited" to one-on-one parent teacher conferences for "behavior problems," and that's when I realized their teachers were a bunch of illiterate degenerates, and my kids were constantly trying to correct the teachers' mistakes in class so their classmates would not end up being similarly stunted.

    These mental midgets wanted to hold my kids back because of their "behavior problems," saying they "needed another year to mature and grow" before they could handle the work. The reality was that they were bored, frustrated, and sick of dealing with teachers who didn't know the material they were teaching.

    Public education in the US is a farce. The only reason it exists is to indoctrinate children with whatever social norms the government wants in its subjects.

    November 13, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • BFMom

      Wow, aren;t we full of ourselves! Obviously your family's gene pool is superior to the rest of the world's population. Geez.

      November 13, 2012 at 6:41 am |
      • watergirl

        I have known kids like that. They are very lonely people, as no one wants to deal with them as their parents are so obsessed with education, that the children end up with no social abilities whatsoever.
        They end up not getting very far in life with their degrees because they throw tantrums during meetings and can't talk to people on a basic level.
        Far more important to have social and emotional intelligence.

        November 13, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Erin

      Who starts a PhD directly after finishing an undergraduate degree? Your story is missing a step there.

      November 13, 2012 at 7:32 am |
      • Bess

        It is not common, but it happens. Folks who have done really well in their undergraduate career and know exactly what they want to study can immediately go towards a Ph.D. if they meet the requirements of the program.

        November 13, 2012 at 7:56 am |
      • science

        It probably depends on the field you are in. In science programs it is very rare when people do NOT start a PhD right after getting an undergraduate degree.

        November 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Jeremy

      @RunfortheHills AMEN!

      I was supposed to go to Kindergarten in 1979, but the school board in their foolishness of thinking that being older helps kids do better in school changed the cutoff date just before school started. Thus I began school one year older, with disastrous results. You DO NOT take a kid with a borderline genius level IQ and severe ADD Inattentive Type, and hold him back a year. While neither of these two aspects of me were known at the time, my mother knew that I was ready the year I was originally supposed to go. The one thing I needed as a child to excel was a challenge, and I never got that in school. Starting in the third grade I began to beg my mother to home school me, but she did not feel capable of the task.

      Fast forward 30+ years: My son is at least as smart as me, and his birthday is 6 Dec. Where we currently live he missed the cut off date by 3 days. We began him in Kindergarten via home schooling and have continued homeschooling ever since. (Actually home schooling was always the plan, and in our home it starts at birth.) Right now he is 6 1/2, is in the second grade and is doing third grade curriculum.

      November 13, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • CanadianPerspective

      Unfortunately, it's simply too difficult to remove substandard teachers from classrooms, they're protected. Right now my son who is taking Grade 11 history which has some geography tied into the subject. Here's just one of many examples of why he is frustrated. His history teacher is telling the class that Hitler was Jewish killing innocent Nazis, not Jews, Nazis! She was telling the class how Germany is In another geographical location instead of where it's actually situated geographically. My son is constantly correcting the teacher and frustrated at the fact that students are being taught a curriculum that is non-factual. He literally showed me he feels he is being taught by a moron. He demonstrated by faking banging his head in a wall out of frustration, while laughing the situation off. I plan on complaining to his school, he just doesn't want it coming back to him, he told me this yesterday.

      November 13, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • ccccc

      Perhaps before you enrolled them to get a PHD, you should have taught them basic manners. No matter how smart they are, or how smart you think they are, it will be difficult holding a job if they can't follow simple directions. Also, lets hope the people they encounter in their lives show far more compassion to your children than you show to others. You can't be too bright if you dont understand the basic principles of the golden rule.

      November 13, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • CHLOES MOM

      What is wrong with letting kids be kids. My daughter turned 5 at the end of July and I let her repeat Pre-K. I didn't care about anyones opinion, I know what is best for my daughter. I started her in Pre-K when she was 4 and she was the youngest in her class, most of her classmates had turned 5 within months of the start of school. She struggled with making friends and was socially behind most of her classmates. She also struggled with being away from me and her Dad. She has never had a problem academically, we taught her all the basics and she is easily on a first grade level. I feel that social interaction is as important if not more so than academics at this age and that each child is an individual. My daughter is thriving this year, with plenty of friends. We are still having problems with separating anxiety, but that is a whole other subject.

      November 13, 2012 at 11:37 am |
      • Jeanne

        So what are your daughter's teachers supposed to do when she comes into Kindergarten next year reading way above grade level because you've developed her academic readiness way beyond where have put her in school? How does that affect the other kids next year when your daughter is 6 and can read and they are 5 and just starting to learn. Should the teacher have to cater to her because you didn't start her on time? Most Kindergarten teaches have enough differentiated instruction to do without dealing with artificially held back kids. Do the other kids have to feel like they are bad readers when she brags that she gets to check out 2nd grade books and they are reading at an appropriate Kindergarten level. Or should she sit there and be bored all year until the other kids catch up? Your daughter isn't the only one affected by your decisions.

        November 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  30. Spijder

    Am I the only one who is completely baffled by the name of this trend? Please somebody tell me that it originated from a reference completely unrelated to the one about disposable crewmembers that immediately comes to mind because if that's where the reference comes from, it seems completely inappropriate, makes no sense in this context, and all I can think of is "that word you keep saying, I do not think it means what you think it means."

    November 13, 2012 at 6:12 am |
    • Nancy A.

      "Redshirting" is a popular term in college football to allow an athlete to play one more eligible year.

      From About.com: Academic Redshirting: The practice of postponing an age-eligible child's kindergarten entry by a year, typically one whose birthday is very close to the cut-off date. Academic redshirting is often done in order to provide some extra time for social, intellectual or physical maturation.

      In rare cases, a child may be academically redshirted in order to give him the advantage of an extra year's development when playing sports in high school.

      November 13, 2012 at 6:33 am |
      • Spijder

        That makes it make even less sense in relation to the practice of delaying kindergarten, to use a phrase relating to an increase of time on a team to a decrease of time in another group situation.

        November 13, 2012 at 7:07 am |
      • JG

        In NCAA athletics, you can compete for 4 years, but you have 5 years to do it. You're a "redshirt" in the year you don't compete, and it typically is used in your freshman year.

        November 13, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Indiana mom

      Nice "Princess Bride" reference. 🙂

      November 13, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • matte

      The term redshirting is a loose term to indicate whether the person is ready for prime time. If they red shirt a child, they hold him/her back a year to give them an advantage in school developmentally. The added year allows the child to grow up a little more without subjecting them to the stresses of school too early.

      The term is used similarly in football. If they redshirt a new player, the person is not technically on the roster, and it allows them to play one year past 4 years. This extra year of development and conditioning allows the person to potentially be better down the stretch because you only have 4 years you can officially play for the team.

      November 13, 2012 at 8:03 am |
      • Tom, Ton, the Other One

        In short Spijder, some people are trying to re-coin a phrase.

        November 13, 2012 at 9:55 am |
      • chelle

        I was wondering the same thing and now find it ludicrous that in an opinion piece by an educator they would use a sports reference. Isn't the focus on sports in school one of the US's education problems.

        November 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  31. unowhoitsme

    For most children, holding them back a year does not make any difference. There have been many studies, and in most of them, it actually harms the child's self-confidence and ends up hindering their academic performance. (in most cases, not all) I have been a teacher for over 30 years and do not recommend holding children back. I highly recommend hiring a private tutor and getting the child caught up to grade level.

    November 13, 2012 at 6:10 am |
    • RunfortheHills

      Is that what your union rep told you to say to save face?

      November 13, 2012 at 6:24 am |
    • Tom, Ton, the Other One

      Yes, lets ignore the professional and turn this into politics.

      November 13, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • CHLOES MOM

      What if the reason you are holding them back is not based on academics? Another reason to delay is a social one. Some children are not ready because socially they are less mature then their peers. A child just turning 4 and starting Pre-K can be almost a year younger than their classmates. Most of my daughters classmates were turning 5 within months of starting school and she had just turned 4. At this age, a few months can make a world of difference.

      November 13, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  32. Jl

    Red shirt your children from puplic schools. THEY ARE THE PROBLEM. Most teachers should be in therapy themselves.

    November 13, 2012 at 3:02 am |
  33. Alexisu96

    This is the first I've ever heard of parents holding kids back hoping for an advantage later for sports. Nice to see that parents have their priorities straight!!!

    November 13, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • Mike

      I remember our highschool... about half of the students needed held back and the other half that succeeded should have stayed held back because they learned nothing about helping there fellow man. The straight A kids that went to my school have become wacky evil people, the straight B students have become wacky good people. I say no to holding students back unless it's like this, If one fails all fail.

      November 13, 2012 at 2:19 am |
  34. Kids will be kids

    All of our kids have fall birthdays and none were 'redshirted', including our youngest who turned 5 a few weeks ago and is doing great, according to her teachers in her kindergarten class. However, I, on the other hand should have been held back as I was a late Nov. birthday and my mother insisted in placing me in kindergarten at the age of 4, since my sister with a late Dec birthday was only a year older and, yes we were in the same grade throughout k-12. It was convenient for my mom, but not great for me, as I struggled in school.
    My issue with redshirting is that it places a disadvantage to kids who do not practice redshirting. I keep hearing parents who talk about giving yourself a 'gift' of another year with your kid, its a guilt fest! My kids are thriving and redshirting would not have made a difference with them, however as is repeated in these posts, it depends on the kid (like myself!). But in general I agree it should not be standard practice.

    November 13, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  35. s

    this idea that kids need just one more year to be a kid... perhaps for some parents, there's some truth to it. when i was a kid, back in the dark ages, there wasn't day care, pre-school, 4 year old kindergarten, we didn't have all these things kids can do via the rec. dept. on the cheap, the dance classes, soccer, softball, on and on ad nauseum. when i was a kid, i was allowed to be a kid until kindergarten, where my mother had the choice of half day or full day kindergarten. there wasn't even the designation of 5K; there was just KINDERGARTEN. your kid turned 5, you sent them to KINDERGARTEN, boom, done. if you had to do something and be child free during that time, the munchkins went to gramma or the teenage girl 3 doors down the block. now, parents do all this crap to give their kids a leg up, get them ahead of their peers, send them to umpteen different activities, get them in pre-school, and now this redshirting thing. too often, parents are doing it because it's the done thing now, not because they have any sense that it will actually benefit their child; someone said it was a good idea, so they did it. we didn't put our daughter in day care, pre-school, or 4K; ppl thought we were nuts. she was allowed to "just be a kid" until she started school at 5, and for every one of the last 4 years she has continued to "just be a kid". she is academically ahead of the curve, she is a social butterfly (which she did NOT get from her wallflower mother), she didn't suffer for me deciding that i was very capable, tyvm, of teaching her myself, and that "socializing" at the park and the play areas at the mall was fine for learning how to interact with her peers. she takes one dance class, 45 minutes every saturday, because she asked if she could, not because i think it's good for much of anything; she likes to dance and maybe she'll learn to not be such a clod. all this pressure i see on other kids, and where's the benefit? what DO you do, if you hold them back that first year? i am in the somewhat, these days, enviable position of being a stay at home mom, and i am a nerdy book worm, so it's easy enough for me to fill her time at home with education, and in such a way that she doesn't think she's being taught, ha ha sneaky mom. how many of the redshirted kids have parents who can do that, as opposed to paying for extracurricular programs? the flip side is the parents who HAVE to put their kids in day care and pre-school, because they both work, and how many of them really find that their kids are SO much better off when they finally start school? i have not found one study that shows any tangible benefit to redshirting, and yes, i have looked, because it made no sense to me when i first heard of it, but i thought maybe there was some validity to the idea just the same. but, no, i don't see it. if you want your kid to just be a kid, DON'T put them in all these activities, unless they ASK to do them. there's no academic advantage to keeping your kid out of school for an extra year, if all you do is put them in some kind of kiddie college, or if you won't or can't teach them on your own. there's no social advantage at all; the best place to learn to be social with kids of all ages is a school! these few children who are really JUST not ready for prime time, maybe i can see it, IF these kids are doing something to help them in w/e area they are lacking, but to do it for sports, or just because they need that one extra year to "just be a kid"? no.

    November 13, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  36. Susan walsh

    I am a mother of four my oldest is 21 and the youngest is 10. I have seen a huge shift in people holding kids back. I truly think it is dependent on your child. My youngest has a severe learning disability we sent him to kindergarten thinking he would catch up. His teacher recommended we repeat kindergarten which we did. Listen to your pre school teacher and trust your gut.

    November 13, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  37. by the pint

    Nowhere in this discussion does the author ever mention the families that cannot afford to hold their children back. This is a privilege of those with enough money to wait. I do buy the argument that you are offering a child another year of childhood, if you can afford it. But I think that by offering parents the choice to hold their children back, schools are also putting other children at a disadvantage that might otherwise not be at one. Aren't athletics the main reason many parents hold their children back anyway?! I don't think this should be a case by case issue. Unless there are serious developmental issues present, I think the schools should hold the cut off. Period.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  38. jonathan

    My parents placed me in kindergarten at age 4 while turning 5 in September. I was in college at 17. To this day I hate my parents for this. As a male, I was at a disadvantage socially and physically. I have made sure my children are breastfed and in kindergarten at age 6, and for this they excel beyond most other classmates.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • LaughingGirl

      Jonathan–please do tell us how you "have made sure my children are [sic] breastfed." Did you breastfeed them yourself or threaten your wife? Incidentally, if it's true that "To this day I hate my parents," seek help. That's some heavy baggage to carry around for a lifetime.

      November 13, 2012 at 12:11 am |
      • jonathan

        Yes. I pressured my wife. The first two were not breast fed and I pressured her on the last two and she is now a true believer. It was a night and day difference; no vomit, no ear infections, the kids slept through the night. She will also highly suggest breastfeeding to our children when that time comes.

        Parents who do not breastfeed or place their children in kindergarten early are just thinking of themselves selfishly and not facing facts that breastfeeding and having your 6 year old in kindergarten is best for the child. That extra year home with mom is huge. My children are happy, loving, the best kids I could ever wish for. I hit the child lottery. The breastfed and held back ones have straight A's, are mature for their class, are always being complimented, and athletic.

        My mom was not loving and just wanted us out of the house; thus placing us into kindergarten early. I suspect a lot of moms are like this.

        November 13, 2012 at 3:36 am |
    • Steve

      Your situation proves that there is really no way to tell who to hold back and who not to. I was exactly the ages you were; 4 in kindergarten and 5 in 1st grade, turned 6 in late October. Never once did I know I was younger than anyone else until I was a full grown adult and the subject was brought up. I was smarter than nearly everyone and pretty much "ran" elementary school and high school. I was the one who organized the sports teams, trips, and everything else (I was a perfectionist, control freak then...and still am). I was the "class clown" throughout all schooling, so everyone knew me and I was never bullied, and never bullied anyone else. I'm 5' 8" now, so I certainly was never big, but I pretty much bossed everyone around. Nobody knew my age and I didn't know anyone was older than me.

      As you can see, me and you, the same ages and completely different experiences. My daughter is young as well and I never questioned starting school early, though my wife did. So far no problems. However, luckily for her she is so damn beautiful that I can't see her ever getting picked on. If anything, she's more likely to end up a "mean girl" (referring to the movie, if you saw it).

      Anyway, I guess the point is that as a parent, you can't win. My daughter may end up hating to have started school young while your kids may end up hating to have started late.

      November 13, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • David

      I wish I could have put my children in Kindergarten at age 4. Now they're bored and the teacher pays attention to 95% of the kids in class who cannot read or identify numbers, while the other (2-3) kids are left alone staring at the wall all day bored out of their mind.

      Maybe you should have made the most out of the enormous opportunity your parents gave you rather than blame them for your personal failures.

      November 13, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • RunfortheHills

      I was in kindergarten age three and in college at 16, and to this day I love and thank my parents for it. I have seen what being artificially held back does to kids – as our school district tried to hold back both of my extremely intelligent and gifted children.

      I think you probably hate your parents for other reasons, most likely because you hate yourself for one reason or another. In any case, being filled with hatred for anybody is certainly cause to seek therapy, which I strongly urge you to do before you snap and hurt someone, or yourself.

      November 13, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • Vanessa

      Wow! Your comment suggests that there is more going on with you or your parents than simply starting you in school at age 4. I don't think another year would have made a difference for you as far as maturity goes. It appears you are quite comfortable blaming whatever school/social issues you may have on your early start so maybe they did you a favor in giving you an excuse for whatever perceived social injustices/intellectual disadvantages you felt you suffered. The two youngest students in my first year medical school class were 19. I didn't see any disadvantage that they had apart from an occasional Doogie Howser reference and not being able to drink when they went out on post block exam beer crawls. They made excellent designated drivers.

      November 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  39. A December Child

    Listening to all the comments confuses me. I personally think there is no significance in keeping a child back. And I am grateful my parents didn't listen to this foolishness. Don't you think about them being a year older than everyone in their class and the teasing that will occur.

    From my experience, I had all the works for my parents to keep my back. I started speaking when I was four, didn't learn the alphabet till I was five, but I still turned out better than most. You have to let kids learn at their own pace. Both my sister (January baby) and I were C students until grade 8, we had more fun than studying and that's the way it should be. After grade 8 both of us became straight A students because we knew this was the time to focus. We both were valedictorians, both graduated from university in 3 years, and now are both in medical school. It didn't make a difference that I had social and developmental issues as a child because I am at the same point as my sister.

    For those parents that are concerned about whether or not to keep their child back: DON'T! Whether your child succeeds is dependent on your abilities as a parent in the extend to how you nurture them and let me grow as an individual.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  40. Linda

    As a retired high school teacher, I have seen many examples of kids who were started in school too young and were still behind both socially and academically. That extra year can be a real blessing by giving the child time to mature at his own pace. Boys especially need to be fully 5 1/2 before starting kindergarten; better if they are fully 6, given today's academic structure. Interestingly enough, the highest performing high school students are from Finland–where kindergarten starts at 7! Read Gladwell's book!

    November 12, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Athena6515

      I'm a big proponent of Finland's academics, however you can't compare it to this situation. They start school at age 7 and school is with 1 teacher for the entire elementary period. They are also in "some sort of Pre-K type" classes for several years and their parents are extremely involved in preparing their children on basics. They also don't have Course work /structured classes being enforced by the government. Most of the kids sit on the floor in a circle and they PLAY while learning "how to learn". Everything they do is hands on and taught by teachers with masters degrees who are the Cream of the Crop. They aren't actually learning subject matter until many years later.

      November 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  41. Cheryl K

    We had my son tested and held him back (he has an early September birthday). He's graduated from college and I never regretted the decision.

    What you really do when you wait that extra year is to GIVE your child another year of childhood. A year to grow and mature. A year to be a kid for a little bit longer. Think about it. Why rush it? When they go early, they go to school at age 4, turning 5, and they graduate at 17. They finish college early and are off in the world as an adult early. For what? They push through (often when they aren't really ready) so they can be on their own sooner? What a very precious gift to give your child one more year of childhood. If you asked anyone..which they would rather have–a year of childhood or an extra year of adulthood, what would they choose?

    I think parents are often in a rush to save on daycare and prove that their child is somehow just as smart as their friends' kids. Really, parents need to look at their child and the environment they are placing them in. The "evening out" by 3rd grade the author talks about has also been described to me by teachers, but in a negative way...By 3rd grade, kids who are too young often struggle...if they would have waited a year, school would have been much, much easier for them.

    November 12, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Kris

      for some of us, it is givng our child another year of boredom.

      November 13, 2012 at 12:52 am |
      • Kay

        Why boredom? Can you not have activities that hold your childs attention? Teach them to read books? Count? I mean honestly when you had your child you had to know that you would be their first and most important teacher so why not just work with them? It could help you all in the long run. My daughter is almost 2, does not watch television, is talking, learning sounds and everything because her father and I work with her, she does not go to daycare or a babysitter because we are her teachers and care givers, if I see that she is advanced I will definatly teach her more at home, we are readers, she knows when it is quiet time to read and follows our habits by sitting with a book, she doesn't watch television, doesn't play video games or any of that because I don't believe it is healthy for her at this age. In the world of ADD and ADHD I can not imagine that parents don't see that the flashing colors and lights on a screen are harmful to your children's attention levels.

        November 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Athena6515

      School is not suppose to be "easy" for them. It's designed to make them think, learn and get out of their comfort zone. It's meant to be a challenge for them to rise up to meet and overcome. If school is easy, your child is learning nothing new.

      November 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • chelle

      Kay...how nice for you. My daughter was also "advanced" and was learning in preschool in another language. So????

      November 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  42. iceload9

    Every child develops differently, so every child should have their own teacher. At first blush this may seem expensive to the state. But if we don't do this we run the risk of parents having to work with their children.

    November 12, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
  43. Steve

    If you don't want you kid going into first grade at an early age 6, don't start schooling at all until the time that would naturally put the kid in first grade at age 7. In other words, don't start kindergarten at age 5, then freak out that your kid is too young for first grade and hold him/her back (unless the kid simply failed to comprehend what was taught). And if you do do this, just don't put the kid in school at all for the year. Keep him at home. What's he going to do back in kindergarten? Learn the ABCs all over again? Might as well get him a job as an assistant teacher. My daughter finished kindergarten at 5 years old, turning six in late June. My wife wanted to put her back in kindergarten and I wouldn't have it. She successfully learned everything taught, so repeating kindergarten would be nothing more than a waste of time. Yes, she is more immature than the older kids, but so far she learns just as well and is doing fine.

    Everyone ought to be held back from all schooling until about 10 years old. This way, instead of stretching out learning something like the alphabet over the course of a year, a kid can learn it in a few weeks. It took my daughter an entire year to learn the alphabet in pre-K. As an adult, I learned the entire Russian alphabet in a couple of days. Early schooling is nothing more than free daycare as far as learning goes. However, kids do like playing with other kids, so school does have social benefits. A ten year old could probably catch up on learning everything taught between the ages of 3 and 9 by the end of his first year in school. Keep in mind that he would have been learning plenty just from normal living.

    November 12, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  44. Jesse Ann

    In our case, my daughter is born 1 day before cutoff date (8/30) making her the youngest in the class. She went to preschool for 2 years and had lot of social issues and anxiety issues. We were in the best school district and she was going to a very good school which my son attended too. We changed her to couple of other schools thinking it is with the school. She used to come home with complaints and never ever speaking in the class. She was academically doing good as per other kids but clearly lagging behind in other areas. Seeing her anxiety issues, my pediatrician begged me to hold her back. It was very hard as a parent to make the decision but we held her back after careful consideration. In the long run, I want my kid to be happy and confident. Since the school began (3 months) , she adjusted so well in the new school and all her anxiety and social issues were gone. She is happy, made so many friends and speaking up in the class. She is extremely social and zero complaints. I am thankful to my pediatrician for bringing this up. We are glad we made this decision and held her back because i don't want her to carry these issues all her life. Finally, I am not against or for for holding back but it depends on each kids case.

    November 12, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Jesse Ann

      Just to add-My daughter will go to Kindergarten next year.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  45. Lindo

    My daughter was a December baby. She could have gone either way, but we chose to let her stay back so she would be allowed to mature a little more slowly. She did well in public high school, is a Wellesley College graduate with a post Doctorate Degree from Stanford and she is now a Doctor in Northern California.

    We believe letting her mature more slowly allowed her to handle stress and responsibilities more easily in the long run.

    November 12, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  46. Holly Korbey

    I have written and spoken out a lot about kindergarten redshirting because of the pressure other parents put on me to hold my August birthday son back from kindergarten. We sent our son anyway, he is now in the fourth grade and is doing great; we certainly never think about him being the youngest, and neither does he. That aside, there are two issues surrounding redshirting that aren't addressed in the article or in the comments. One is parents' fear of the new kindergarten – developmentally inappropriate, it's entirely academic and kids spend most of their day sitting in a chair, doing "work." Most five-year-olds don't have the ability or the desire to learn this way, and parents understandably are freaked out by the kind of learning taking place. An easy way to fix this would be for parents to demand what is developmentally appropriate for five year olds and kindergartners in general: play-based curriculum. Used by Finland and South Korea and many other high-achieving systems, this allows the children to develop motor skills, social skills and resiliency before turning to academics in first grade.

    The second issue is what redshirting does to the kids who can't afford another year of preschool. It puts them at a double-disadvantage - maybe they could use the extra year but are now up to 18 months behind the oldest kids.

    When talking about redshirting, we should weigh these factors as heavily as whether or not our child will be the last to drive, or the smallest in class.

    November 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Athena6515

      Ironically, back in the early 80's.. Half Day Kindergarten was "play based learning". Apparently, the "powers that be" thought this was a WASTE of taxpayers dollars.

      November 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  47. Hemyola

    The concept "held back" misses the point. Not going to school does not have to "hold the child back." In fact, learning at at home can be a way to enhance faster learning and growth for many children with supportive parents. Likewise, going to school can actually hold a child back from growing and learning.
    A child who is nurtured at home is by nature striving to learn and master skills and knowledge. The proof is the thousands of well home-schooled children who are in colleges at a younger ages and excel in every way including social skill, community involvement, academics and the arts. For many children relating one-on-one, individual learning and being in the real community are a much better motivator and stimulator than school.
    So, I would expand the idea of fitting education to each child beyond school which is one possibility. Each child has an optimal way of learning and growing and parents are best off learning what that is and providing accordingly.

    November 12, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Hemyola

      Sorry about typos above... I mean to edit and posted by mistake.

      November 12, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
      • Hemyola

        And again did the same... meant to edit... not good with computers.

        November 12, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • A December Child

      I agree with you completely. I think the best learning happens at home. But, I still believe structure is needed. To develop skills in numeracy, literacy – teaching is important. But, learning soft skills and getting kids to develop a passion for learning falls on the parents. If my parents hadn't taken me science museums, or amusement parks, or camping...I wouldn't have developed my eagerness to explore, learn, and challenge myself.

      November 12, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Jeremy

      It depends on the child. Delaying the start of Kindergarten for me was the worst possible choice.

      November 13, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  48. matt k

    Please don't ever submit such a poorly written article to whichever editor you're bribing for publication.

    Horrendous

    November 12, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  49. SoArizona

    Going forward and placed ahead in grades can be a damning as being hel back. In college at 15 can be just as gruelling.

    November 12, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  50. Maria

    Due to the alignment of our school system, my 9th grade year was spent in a junior high, where I was averaging a 1.6-1.7 GPA and tested a grade or two or three (depending on the subject–I've always been horrible at maths) below my level in every subject. There was talk about holding me back a year.

    Well, guess what? The next year, I went on to 10th grade and to a high school environment, where I earned a 3.2 my first semester and 3.1 my second semester. Why the turn-around? One reason was, as I mentioned earlier, because I left behind the bullies that were interfering with my education (it's hard to study when you don't dare to take your books home on the bus, lest they be stolen and ripped up.) I also went from being in a school with a few hundred students to nearly 4,000, which saved me from the severe bullying that I'd experienced; the anonymity, coupled with the rush to get to class through the crowded hallways, put bullying on the back burner for the majority of students.

    And I also learned that I had (and still have) anxiety issues that interfered with my test results, which is why I tested "stupid." As it turned out, a mere two years after leaving that nightmare of a junior high, my ACT Test scores were high enough to earn me a state scholarship that helped cover my college expenses. In fact, the English skills section placed me in the top 3% of the nation... which was a far cry from being forced into the lowest reading group that the junior high had to offer!

    To look at my grades and test scores in 9th grade, you wouldn't have thought that I was capable of handling 10th grade... I was MORE than capable, but the old environment was stifling my educational ambitions. Parents, and teachers, need to examine each student very carefully before making a decision to hold them back. I simply got lucky and slipped through the decision-making process as the usual process of education churned me through its mill.

    November 12, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  51. the_dude

    I, for also was held back. Me not ever know why. Teachers be all like, HEY YOU, DONT BE DUMB and i was all like, ok. You know?

    November 12, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  52. Anna Mouse

    My parents held me back and it has been a mark I carry with me always. I never feel as though I can relax or stop running.

    All those years of boredom and feeling as though I didn't measure up, you made me Batman.

    Don't hold your kids back unless you want for them to hold it over you always.

    November 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Candice

      Your experience cannot be extrapolated to all students; each child comes with their own unique set of issues (early or late birthday, etc.), and each potential schooling environment needs to be evaluated as well.

      Both my quite-late-in-the-year kids started kindergarten at age 5 based on preschool teacher recommendations; both eventually needed to repeat a year in 5th grade (at their non-judgmental multi-grade-classroom public school) which turned out to be very helpful for them. Actually, the 2nd would have benefitted from even a second year's delay before middle school, as this otherwise bright child has since been diagnosed Autism-Spectrum-delayed in certain learning areas but particularly also emotional maturity areas. Sadly, "the system" in public schools doesn't allow for that much flexibility.

      BTW, they are both A students with very high GPAs. I don't think this would have been the case if they had not been able to both repeat 5th grade. I only wish they both had been able to spend another year in preschool instead, to avoid the mess we went through when we realized it wasn't good for them to have gone to kindergarten so early.

      November 13, 2012 at 6:23 am |
  53. Harvey

    I was held back year after year. I was reading by the age of four, figured out basic arithmetic by age five, was reading my father's college text books by seven, and the list goes on. The first couple of years the school board wanted me to skip a grade, then two grades, and finally wanted to graduate me from high school by the time I reached the seventh grade.

    Every time my parents said no and was held back. I was constantly in trouble through my entire school career; mainly because I was bored. If it hadn't been for a very special teacher that took me under his wing and taught me everything he knew about math, physics, chemistry, and other sciences; I probably would have ended up in jail. The main thing he taught me was critical thinking and how to learn. I owe him a debt that can never be paid.

    I urge all parents not to hold their kids back if they show they are capable. In my experience; it was extremely damaging. While I have done quite well in life. I have always wondered where I would be today had my parents not interfered in my education.

    November 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Mark

      Isnt' your entire post in support of being held back? Either you are a huge single nerd or being held back really works....which is it?

      November 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
      • Not really....

        Actually, the post is clearly in favor of NOT holding back if the child is ready to go. He was in trouble because he was bored. And, hey, what's so bad about being a "nerd", eh, "jock." That is PRECISELY why so many kids, red-shirted, pushed forward, held back or just plain where they "belong" are so socially under-achieving or having a hired time in school. It is NOT about who they are so many times as it is about those fools around them who must tease and condescend toward just to make "self" feel better about "self" because "self" has no personal self-esteem. Name calling is one of those things that we learn about in Kindergarten:

        1) Don't do it. It is childish and too immature for 5-year-olds.
        2) If an immature schoolmate does resort to name calling, remember: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words (names) will NEVER hurt me."

        A proud Nerd! 🙂 Just as everyone should be – proud about who you are: "Nerd", "Jock", "Normal kid" – who cares??!! Really. Let's all just get along like we were taught in Kindergarten.

        My 2-cents' worth.... 😉

        November 12, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Maria

      Ignore the "nerd" comment. That's just someone being ignorant.

      November 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  54. Experienced Teacher

    There is no cookie cutter answer. It really does depend on the child. Yes, we are talking about your child and you do have the final say-so, of course. I am so tired of hearing the "bored" word. Your child by and large is NOT bored. They may not enjoy what they're learning, but they are not bored. But they see the "reaction" they get from their parents when they say that word. We teachers are trained to provide individualized instruction, differentiated instruction, and response to intervention for the struggling ones, among other tactics. Students are never all on the same level. Retention is a hot issue, but I believe in it in certain cases. I think if it happens, it needs to be before 3rd grade. Lots of things need to be taken into consideration. I had a child who came back to see me in high school and thanked me for holding her back. She said it was the best thing that ever happened to her. I have also had another child say the same thing to a team of evaluators during a school evaluation 3 years ago. In the past 16 years that I have been at this school, I have held back about 4 students. I didn't regret any of them. No, they don't all level out by 3rd grade either. I've seen kids passed on by their parents against my better judgement. Self esteem? Wait til they get in middle grades and check out self esteem when they're not able to deliver, but parents' feelings were too hurt to take the tough approach at the time it was needed. Now we're talking big self esteem issues.

    November 12, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • ajbuffl

      Gender is important too. Boys may thrive being the biggest and tallest by high school (or not), but girls may feel horrible when they are the biggest and tallest and first to mature. Middle school is the worst environment in any case, so having a student ahead or behind may not become a problem until then. The real solution is a more flexible school system. My older son was just 5 when kindergarten started. He should have held back, but he was so tall and has always looked much older than he is. What would have helped the most would have been a 5 year high school track – let him take more remedial courses in 9th grade and spread the curriculum out. By 12th he was in APs – he just needed more time. And I know as many kids who could use 5 years in high school (we are in a 9th-12th state) as I do those who could have graduated in 3. Why must it always be a round hole – and every shape peg has to fit? It makes no sense. Kids are ahead socially and physically without being ahead intellectually, and kids are often ahead intellectually while lagging socially and physically. Also coming into play is what your community does – that son was stuck with a group of girls who had already turned 6 and had held back a year to outperform their classmates academically. So everything the few young kids did was measured against not just older classmates but advanced girls more than a year older who were playing the system. Public schools need to come up with a more flexible system that takes these variations into account.

      November 12, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • PrincessBride

      Experienced Teacher – I would love to have had my children in a school where no child is ever bored and every child is instructed at their level. My experience was very different. Given the tendency toward grade inflation, my children's middle school had 80-90% of students making Honor Roll. Can you say Lake Wobegone? Almost every student was achieving above average in EVERY subject? Granted this was a parochial school, so you had kids coming from more motivated families, but still, what happened was, in the rush to make every kid above average, the ranges were compressed and the kids that were truly able to do accelerated work did not. My kids finished their work early in class, finished tests early, and managed to get all their homework except projects done in school. I had to make arrangements with the teachers to let them read or do chores for the teacher once they had finished their classwork/tests because sitting and doing nothing was BORING. Yes, they were bored. I taught them geometry at home, and had my own reading lists for them. Only once they got to high school and could sign up for classes at more challenging levels did they begin to reach their potential. I thought about changing schools, but parents at other middle schools who had bright students reported the same struggles. Thank goodness for AP courses. It's been the saving grace of high school. And these are kids who are on the younger range for their grade level.... imagine if they'd been held back a year!

      November 13, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  55. bmarzinske

    There are some great studies coming out of Canada and are even being tried in some U.S. schools. The data indicates that children born Jan.-April outperform both physically and academically than their peers born May-Dec. It indicates that those born June-Dec. should be held back from kindergarten a year. Problem is too many parents want to ship them out sooner than later to eliminate day care expenses and having them around another year.

    November 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • OvernOut

      I'm an August baby, married to a November baby, we both graduated high school in the same year and college four years after that. We would have been considered young under the studies you reference. Trust me, we could outperform any January-June kids! It should be up to the parents who know their child best as to when to start them in school.

      Ridiculous to hold them back so they'll be bigger for sports, too–if you know your kids will be short and skinny as adults anyway, like we all are. Holding a kid back for size would have been a joke, since we are always going to be the smallest.. We made hay out of being tiny, we've produced some brilliant coxswains on college rowing crews, and there are many gymnasts in the family.

      November 12, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
      • JohnBravar

        Talk about a defensive post! We don't care if YOU were a wonder child. The point is that there are studies that show, generally, babies born in the first few months of the year perform stronger. So with those statistics in mind, you cannot criticize someone for holding a December or similar child back till the next year of school.

        November 12, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • John Doe

      Can you cite these studies? Are they peer reviewed?

      November 13, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • PrincessBride

      Think about the effects of what you just proposed. OK, Jan-april students do better, so wait and hold out May-Dec students. What have you done now? You've ensured the May-Dec students will now be the oldest and will perform best, and the Jan-Apr students will lag. I've read Malcolm Gladwell's research, and it's fascinating. But the real take-away is that, at a young age, development ranges are so broad that grouping children over the range of a year is too broad a spectrum. When you read his research about professional hockey players, you realize that if children were grouped in 3 or 4 month intervals, then there would be better achievement across the boards. At a statistical level, those at the tail end of a 12-month grouping will lag behind (this of course is not accounting for outliers). Moving the start of the 12-month grouping doesn't change the outcome over time.

      November 13, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  56. Chet

    The real question is – will the school system allow a parent to hold back a child?

    November 12, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • bmarzinske

      It's been my experience that schools are more than willing to agree with parents to hold a child back, especially before kindergarten where it causes the least harm. The opposite is not true. A school can "recommend" to parent(s) to hold back their child. But 90% of time the parents put more weight on the social stigma of "flunking" their child, than their child's educational well-being and progress. IMHO

      November 12, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
      • Melody

        Our state (MI) just passed a law that the child MUST be 5 before the school year starts to begin kindergarten. I am not pleased with this – it should be decided by the child's parents and teachers, not by the state because some parents are not able to make the correct call with their child. Now advanced and normal children will be held back because some people can't make the right call on their own.

        November 12, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  57. Bill

    I went to Kindergarten a year early. I wasn't emotionally ready, but I was more than academically ready. Great teachers in the first two years kept me on track.

    Then came second grade. One month into the school year, our teacher (it was a class for gifted students) left the school. The school chose to promote me to the third grade at that time (remember, I was early into Kindergarten, so I wasn't yet 7 years old when this happened).

    The third grade teacher seemed to be a good teacher from what I could tell, but she was wholly unprepared to deal with a student like me.

    (Please keep in mind this isn't a knock on the teacher – my academic "age" was several years ahead of my emotional "age". The school tried to take my academics more into account than my maturity.

    I still remember her vividly, and looking back, she was one of the best teachers in the school. But I was such a unique case that she put me in the corner of the classroom and we got through the school year as best as we both could.)

    Thankfully, when the school year ended, and the school wanted to promote me to fourth grade, my mom pulled me out and put me in a private school for a year, and had me repeat third grade.

    I still bear the "scars" of all of this to this day. I've never really fit in socially, and that's caused me problems all of my life. Yet I never really felt I was challenged academically – the couple of times I remember were me going ahead in a lesson, or listening to the other grades' work in a 4/5/6 combo (I was in fourth grade in that class, and breezed through most of the material.)

    Meh, I'm ranting and probably making no sense, so I'll just hit post and be done with this.

    November 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Tim

      While I was never promoted,I too started school early and had alot of teaching at home before school. I didnt fit with the "normal" kids either.But the teahers did not or would not admidt that I was capable of more and was bored to death and that was why they couldnt keep my attention. One teacher even sugested that I needed a shrink because I made a statement that one day our lives would revolve around the use of computers after our school got its first Apple back in the 80's. Man Id like to see her now!! Then I went to public school and it just got worse. Its rare for me to be able to interact with anyone unless I quote" dumb down" my end of the conversation, somehting I had to do through out my public school years because even the teachers were rather intimidated by me.
      Now there is programs in place for kids like me, my son is in one. A dual degree program that allows him to take his classes at the junior college that counts as highschool and college credit.
      My daughter however fits in to your catagory, It realy is a hard decison to make weather or not to keep her back a year so her age can catch up with her brain.

      November 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  58. carlivar

    The plural of anecdote is not data.

    November 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • M3

      Best metacomment in this entire thread. Well said.

      November 13, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  59. New England

    Here in CT, kids start Kindergarten as early as 4 1/2. If they turn age 5 Jan 1 or earlier of that school year, they are good to go. I've seen kids held back so they are 5 when they start, but in what state are kids allowed to be 6? That is quite old to start Kindergarten.

    November 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Jac

      I live in Central PA and every school district in my area requires a child turn 5 by September 1st of the enrolling year. I have an October baby so she missed the cut off this year, although, I felt she was definitely ready. We pay to send her to Pre-K four mornings a week... My neighbor's son's birthday is 9/4 and he had to wait an additional year to start school.

      November 12, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • PA

      In our school district in PA you have to be 5 by August 31 to start Kindergarten. Most of my son's first grade classmates are 7! It seems extreme.

      November 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
      • Bedria

        Aug 31 cutoff also applies in WA state. However, a child can get tested to enter kindergarten early if a child turning 5 after Aug 31. My younger daughter, who is a September baby, took the test and is now doing well in 1st grade. At the same time I always watch out for any sign of stress or anxiety. It helps that she is tall and doesn't look any different from the rest of the class.

        November 13, 2012 at 3:03 am |
  60. rogerfeeley

    My wife was an elementary principal for 17 years and a teacher for 13 years before that. She noticed a pattern where the most discipline problems were with kids that just slipped in over the age limit. Not all of the young ones had troubles but more of them did.

    It would be better to red-shirt than to make a kid repeat a grade.

    November 12, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  61. Ana

    Girls are more mature than boys at age 5 or 6. Each child is also more or less social or academically challenged. A few months more or less in age DOES NOT make any difference because they are already so different! Earlier to start with school is better, they should not waist time watching TV and playing games.

    November 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Relly

      Good advice. No time to waist! Good God.

      November 12, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Rekenstrana's Homunculus

      Yes, "waisting" time is absurd. Now who in their right mind would go ahead and try to cinch time's waist?

      November 12, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
      • Polly

        OH NOEZ! SOMEONE MISSPELLED A WORD! By all means, let's just drop everything and point.

        Grow up.

        November 12, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
      • Rekenstrana's Homunculus

        "OH NOEZ! SOMEONE MISSPELLED A WORD! By all means, let's just drop everything and point."

        Well, this is an article regarding the education of our young, correct? The word was misspelled not once but twice...by two different people–presumably adults. I find that fantastically ironic and somewhat entertaining.

        November 12, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  62. Aramat

    My son was born September 2 and missed the cut off at our schoold district by less than 12 hours.
    At first I was furious, especially because in the surrounding school districts the cut off is late September.
    I was forced to enrolled him in a private Pre-K/K class. He thrives academically, and there is an option for me to test him and possibly enroll directly into 1st grade. However, he doesn't take easily to new environments and I know that switching schools will be a big deal emotionally.
    I am very torn, I am worried that he will either be bored academically or challenged socially.
    My best solution is to hold him back because the emotional struggles are harder to monitor than academic ones.
    I don't think of it as redshirting, he is "acclimating"...

    November 12, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Graham

      Oh stop babying him, he's a human, we are built for adaptation. Stop worrying so much about how he will handle it emotionally. If its the better choice then do it, he will be fine!

      November 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
      • BeenThereDoneThat

        Your post is irresponsible, Graham. Social maturity is extremely important in adapting to school life. It's imperative that we look at each child's case individually – your "bootstrap" method might be fine for some kids, but can cause irreparable harm to others. You're far too heedless about some very real concerns.

        November 12, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Wait_and_see

      We were in the same position, after a couple of hard transitions in earlier days. But by summer time that year the entire "new environment emotional struggles" somehow disappeared. He just "grew up" and was ready to move on! He is also a September birthday. He was comfortable on day one in first grade in the new school and went ahead full sped from there. So you might consider not making a final decision before it is time to make that decision.

      November 12, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  63. randy

    i was in the 5th grade. i was barley making passing grades. we moved and i started another school. the school was way more advanced the my old one. i couldnt even understand what they were doing. they moved me from the 5th grade back to the 4th. i will say this, it hurt, but it also made me stronger. i told my self i would never have that happen again and it never did. i started getting better grades, by time i was in high school, i was the top in my class in math and science. so, my thing is this. i dont care what people thing, teacher things. parents have to do what best for the kids. some kids are advanced and needs to be moved ahead, some kids are slower and need more time, and should be held back or sent back a grade

    November 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Relly

      You were barley making grades? That is hard to believe!

      November 12, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
      • dentate

        Instead of making barley, maybe he'll do better if he "hops" to the next level.

        November 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  64. Past Kindergarten

    My son was 4 years old when he started kindergarten, and yes one of the youngest in the class. We were fortunate that we were able to send him to preschool and the teachers there tried to convince me to hold him back. I knew they were wrong and that he was more than ready. No one can know your child better than you and parents it is your decision to make. My son excelled all through school and is now a junior at a top university, starting kindergarten "early" had no negative impact whatsoever.

    November 12, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  65. Maria

    In 1975, I was put in school a year early (as I have a late November birthday), at my mother's insistence, in order for me to remain with my neighborhood friends. I'm one of those individuals in society who has never "fit in," being overly sensitive and shy by nature, so the social aspects of any get-together were never pleasant even before I started school. They still aren't. I learned to read at home out of my own ambition and desire to understand the written word, which ticked off my teachers because they didn't have to teach me how, and they couldn't deal with a pupil who was "ahead" in one aspect while average or below average with others.

    I was more than grateful for starting early when, in middle school, I found myself being bullied by those my own age–luckily, I was one grade above them and thus able to escape these evil individuals for a year; my grade point average jumped from a 1.7 in the junior high spring semester to a 3.2 in my first high school fall semester, if that gives you any idea of the anxiety and classroom difficulties they were causing me. Graduating at 17 years of age was another plus, because my final year consisted of classes that have served me no purpose whatsoever and were taken just to match the school credit count (in fact, I had three study halls and an early dismissal from last period for my final year–what a waste of time!).

    I agree with another poster on here. I think the American education system keeps kids in its grade schools for too long (18-19), and most offer next to nothing when it comes to vocational, hands-on training which should start around the age of 14-15. We basically turn our "kids" loose in the world when they hit adulthood but with none of the workplace skills they'll need.

    November 12, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  66. Ima Teacher

    As a teacher, I have seen many students who were not ready for the next grade level and would benefit, I thought, from repeating their current grade level. However, our school district frowns upon retention and makes it so difficult for a teacher to retain a child, that many teachers just don't bother trying (the district requires long, detailed write-ups on the child, many long, detailed meetings on why the child needs to repeat the grade, and long, detailed plans for how the next school year will be different for the retained child, etc.). Our school district makes the teachers seem like a failure if a child has not mastered their grade level and needs to repeat the grade. Our district also emphasizes over and over that research shows that children who are retained catch up for a little while and often begin falling behind again later on. They also tell us that research shows that retention has a very negative impact on students and frequently leads to dropping out of school. Please do not blame teachers for "social promotion." These decisions often come from the top and teachers get caught in the middle.

    November 12, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Name:(required)

      Thanks for bringing that issue up. I was so frustrated by the lack of effort by my child's middle school that I pulled him out and home schooled him. He was extremely disorganized and no one ever held him accountable if he failed to turn in assignments. The only advice the assistant principal offered was to medicate him. I am so offended by adults who suggest drugging children to make them more convenient for the school system. The teachers were hamstrung by the district because they couldn't offer retention. Instead of helping him, they started punishing him for petty issues. I took matters into my own hands, and I immediately made him repeat his prior school year. We took it slow, and it was a struggle the first year. First and foremost, he needed time to mature. We worked hard on the areas he was lacking. Today, he understands why we did it. He is back in school now and doing better than ever. He is more mature and much more confident. It was the best thing we ever did for him. As one very unhelpful assistant principal told me, "Well, ultimately, it's YOUR responsibility to educate your child"....so,that's exactly what I did.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  67. ParentOfTrilingualLearners

    Redshirting a trend? This is insane! These kids need to be prepared for the 21st centuary global economy by being enrolled in a local second language immersion kindergarden as soon as they can enroll. This is because language acquisition therories tell us that, "there is a window of opportunity in which the child learns that first language normally. After this period, the brain becomes slowly less plastic and by the time the child reaches adolescence, the brain cannot develop "richly and normally any real cognitive system, including language." http://www.cal.org/earlylang/benefits/research_notes.html
    As Larry The Cable Guy would say: "Only in America!"

    November 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • redshirtedmyself

      I was redshirted. Very glad I was too. When I was a kid I was too immature. I saw the kids the grade above me that were not redshirted. They were very immature and outcasts for their age. My friend from my grade was over a year younger than me, very intelegent, and now still doesn't have a job in his late 20's. He always tried to stay at our level maturity wise and could never do it. The child needs to mature. I don't call it Redshirting. I call it normal. Born in summer, let the child be the oldest in his class, not youngest. I am where I am becuase I was never too immature for my grade level.

      November 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
      • ParentOfTrilingualLearners

        I agree it is needed for some students, but it is not at all a silver bullet even for them. My sister was and absolutely needed it at the time since she was undiagnosed ADD then. However, I am totally against this as a trend just so a kid can be a have larger arms than the other kids when throwing an olive ball around and better at bumping into people in a desperate attempt to obtain a sports scholarship someday. Some of these redshirted kids could have used a more nontraditional and individualized education. The educational system still did not serve my sister well even after being held back.

        November 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
      • jhealyande001

        I have a son who I held back due to a late summer birthday. He is in the second grade and while he is doing great academically, he has the appropriate level of emotional and physical control for a second grader. I look at the boys in his class who are up to one year younger who cannot sit still and pay attention, interrupt the lesson or talk back and have to go to the thinking chair and generally are a disruption to the class. I do not see what they call red shirting as an issue at all – it makes perfect sense if you want your child to be able to focus and learn. If these other children had parents who were more in tune with what was actually going on in class, they would be horrified. These kids belong with kids in the first grade.

        Red shirting is a ++ for everyone. Teachers, the learning environment for other children in the classroom as well social/educational development of the individual child.

        November 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
      • Not for everyone

        jhealyande001, your statement: "Red shirting is a ++ for everyone..." is simply and absolutely NOT TRUE! This is a really, really NEW concept (and name tag) and is not a blanket application that fits all.

        I began Kindergarten at 5-1/2 and was bored to tears. I was shy then, not later. But socially, Kindergarten meanst absolutely nothing to me – as did very little of my school career. I just wasn't interested in what the other kids said or thought about me. Figure, phooey on them if they were that lame. Yet, I was very well liked by all types of students. I could easily, and probably should have (suggested by my K teacher), skipped on to 1st grade then. For various reasons, that did not happen, and I lived academically bored until 5th grade.

        My daughter was younger – barely 5 – when she began Kindergarten. She missed several weeks after surgery (following just one day in K-5), went back to school and still was quite advanced from the other students – academically and emotionally. She didn't care for the immaturity of most of the kids, although only 2 were younger than her, in 3 classrooms. She excelled academically; was accepted into a speciliazed academy at age 10. However, she had serious organizational difficulties due to a neurological disorder. The public academy was completely un-prepared to deal with an academically gifted student with a disability! They even said that the only placement for a child with an IEP was in special-education where, on average, the students were working 1-3 years behind their age-peers, academically-speaking.

        We brought her home and she continued to excel. At 16 she placed in the 98-99% on her college entrance exams. She never had ANY social OR discipline issues, at school or at home-schooling. She graduated college with a 3.98 gpa, at 20 years old. She now runs her own business.

        So don't say that redshirting is for everyone! That's as much as saying exactly the opposite of the author of the article. It's NOT for all, because they are NOT all alike!

        I'm sorry for your child's experience with kids that were younger, but many younger ones are quite capable of handling the situation. Give each child what they need (parents, get involved!!) and they, most likely, will do just fine!

        November 13, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  68. Josh

    I was hoping for a lot more when I started reading this article. I have a 3 year old born on Sept 1st, so we can go either way on this. He is already in a full-day preschool and can write his name, count to 20 etc. He will be ready for Kindergarten and all indications are he will be in the top half of his class. His sister just won some kindergarten academic excellence award and he seems to be tracking well with her progress.

    But there are advantages to being the oldest in your class rather than the youngest, and those advantages don't go away by 3rd grade. Yes they include sports (and not just the ones I like), but they also include academics, social confidence and behavioral maturity.

    The risk however of holding kids back is boredom and therefore a lack of "love of learning". Also the preschool costs $600/month and real school is free.

    I want to give my kid every advantage and I'm leaning toward sending him.

    November 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Don'tSendHim

      Josh....please think this through a little more...Last BOY in his school to mature or get a learners permit/drivers license or prom date, or to mature physically enough to play on a sports team. Additionally if you move to another part of the country with earlier cut off dates for enrollment your child could potentially be 1.5 years younger than classmates. It's a tough decision and as a parent who selected to send their child early, I have often second guessed that decision. He has done very well, and it now an engineer, however some of those teen years would have been much easier had he been as old as the majority of his classmates. What is best for a child at 6, may look like a different decision once they are 12 or 13, and it it too late to reverse. An extra year of pre k is the most selected choice of educators for their own children. They understand the system better than other parents focused on "but my child is brilliant." Hope this helps.

      November 12, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
      • Jen

        There's always going to be some kids that are more immature than others, regardless of when you send them to school. And someone's going to be the youngest. It's just the way the world works. Also, children develop at different ages so he may or may not be among the last to develop. As far as I'm concerned, none of the reasons mentioned (i.e. driver's license, physically develop, etc.) are reasons to NOT send a child to school when they're supposed to go.

        November 12, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Jen

      I had this issue with my Kindergartner as well. He's got an August birthday so is one of the youngest in his class. Socially, he a normal 5-year-old boy. Academically, however, he's advanced (even his teacher says so). He was already able to write his name, count well above 20 (and by 5's & 10's as well), and could already read before the school year even started. My sisters all "red-shirted" their boys with summer birthdays. They thought that I should too...simply because he has a summer birthday. There's no way that my son, however, could have done another year of preschool. He would have been so bored! He was more than ready for Kindergarten. I made my decision based on my child, rather than what others were telling me and I'm so glad that I did. He LOVES school and is so excited every day to go. While I do believe there are some children who should wait a year to go, I also think that this "trend" is ridiculous and that the vast majority of children are ready for Kindergarten when they're supposed to be.

      November 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
      • Just Wait

        Don't be so sure...my son born in Sept was crying at 3 that he wanted out of daycare and into kindergarten because he was already reading but frustrated that he wanted more formal training. I am serious! So he started at 4....he had a lot of social and emotional issues all through school and never quite fit in with his grade. Now, at 17, despite acing the SAT and being an AP scholar his grades aren't great and he insists that he should be a Junior, not a Senior and he wants to attend community college, get his AA in a year (due to all the AP classes this is totally possible) and the. Transfer to a 4 year school because he just turned 17 and knows he isn't ready to leave home emotionally/socially. Over time his friends have become the kids one year down in school. It is where he belongs. So I vote for being honest with yourself about maturity level. My son is absolutely in the 99% percentile for standardized tests and IQ...but he is not mature enough to leave home in a few months. I am honestly thrilled now that I have listened to him recently with more perspective...he is right. He keeps saying, "what is the hurry?" And he is right. I am not making this up. One additonal note though would also be that at least in California the public schools are not geared toward 'special needs' kids on the high end of IQ...they cater only to the lower end and bringing them up. My son was absolutely bored...but also immature. Bad combination...but I was definitely more focused on academic challenge than maturity. I was an Oct birthday, went to school at 4 and graduated top of my class...so I thought he would be the same. Not true.

        November 13, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Choice

      In our school district you need to be 5 by August 31st to be eligible for Kindergarten. In many places you can start much earlier. My son's birthday is a little after the cutoff date, but he was all ready for it. So we enrolled him in a private Kindergarten program. A few of his classmates went on to first grade in public school after that, a lot of them went to kindergarten again in public school. It comes down to each child's maturity and readiness and the parent's choice. The teacher feedback was a huge factor in making the decision. They know when a child is ready or not. In January they told us he can go either way and it is entirely our choice. The only argument for holding back was the one mentioned above (fit in during teenage years?). By May the teachers told us directly he needs to go to first grade. Holding back would only lead to boredom and troublemaking. The difference was not in his academic learning, but in his getting mature enough to feel ready for first grade. In first grade he was more mature and doing better than classmates a full year older. Behavioral maturity definitely is very important, but it does not always correlate with age, just as academic performance does not. We also visited both a kindergarten and a first grade class in public school before making a decision and we could tell where he would belong and where he would not. It is very helpful when you try making a choice. Good luck either way!

      November 12, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Laura

      4 is too young to start kindergarten, period.

      Signed,
      Mom of five kids, all of average emotional maturity, but very different intellectual levels.

      November 12, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Amy

      Real school is free. You get what you pay for.

      November 13, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  69. CHUCK

    Not everyone is created equal. Not everyone will get good grades. Some excel in different areas. No child should be held back. The stigma involved with being held back, is far worse than poor grades. They will eventually catch up...or not.

    November 12, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • eeniebeans

      In today's day and age there is no stigma. I have received ZERO negative reactions from holding our daughter back to repeat 3rd grade. Not from family, friends, teachers, doctors- no one.

      November 12, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
      • Susan

        it's not you that has to bear the stigma. it's your child.

        November 12, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Dennis

      As someone who was held back, I can tell you there DEFINITELY is a stigma. But the worst is always feeling in school like your already behind a year, before you even had the chance to start.

      November 12, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Kay

      Hence the reason for letting kids be a little older starting Kindergarten! Most kids don't care at that point and if it is the norm for that class it's no big deal. This is why I am glad that I will be making the decisions based on my daughters abilities and I will teach her as I was taught, deal with the life that you were given and if others pick on you it is their loss! If they don't go to school before they are ready then they won't have the "stigma" of being held back when they are older.

      November 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  70. William

    Here in CT you can put a 4 year old (December b'day) in kindergarten. The opposite of redshirting...some people use this to get free daycare for their kids. You may not think this is a big deal but many 4 year olds simply are not ready to handle school...this can leave you socially if not academically behind all the way though high school.

    I was the 2nd youngest in my class from K to high school. Did OK but I've always wondered how I would have fared if I had been the oldest in the class. I'll never know.

    November 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Cruddy

      It all depends on how aware your child is. I tried an experiment on all 3 of my children (one fo which was 4 yrs old starting Kindergarten) that involved exposing them to advance concepts while 3 and 4. I taught them the basics things like counting and ABC's but the also were taught to read and do algebra before they started Kindergarten. Kids minds have an amazing ability to learn anything they are exposed to at that age range. Its not untl they get older and think they are not supposed to know something that they lose this ability. All my kids including the one that started at 4 yrs old get straight A's and everything comes easy to them because they were taught the concepts when the mind was just a sponge.

      November 12, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  71. debbie

    I decided when my middle child was pushed to skip thru school to hold him back. He didn't want to skip and didn't posses the required social skills. Each child is different, I had to find other outlets for his intelect but it was very important that this undersized uncoordinated boy learn the proper social skills before he was pushed into higher grades. He was 6 years old when he started 1st grade. The school only stopped trying to skip him to an older grade when in 8th grade they introduced excellerated classes. These worked out very well he was able to compete with older boys in the math/sciences but stay with his grade for english/history and recess.

    November 12, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  72. Judy

    40 years ago I kept my son back and put him in nursery school instead. He was an only child and was very immature and was only old enough to start kindergarten be about a week. He went on to become a very smart and well educated young man. I have never regreted holding him back but I do agree each case is different. At the time I kept him back it was very popular but was right for him.

    November 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Judy

      Meant to say it wasn't very popular.

      November 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Elayne Sieckmann

      I can say that my experience was that my son had 'missed' the deadline for the school district to enter kindergarten that year by 11 days. I talked to the principal and explained my misgivings with holding him back another year. He said to bring him in and they would test him. I did and he passed the tests,then the principal tried to say that he was a bit immature to start that year.I knew that he was fine due to being the youngest in the family so he was always around older people and knew how to act.The principal wasn't happy that I went ahead and enrolled him,but I knew it would be the best thing for him.I couldn't see how sitting in front of a T.V. for another year was going to help.Then in his second grade the school had come out with a new school in the district that was a 'traditional school'. I got him in there and that was the best decision I ever made. He was honor roll there and when he went on to high school (with a 2 year break of home schooling) he was honor roll there as well.It ended up with him graduating a year and half earlier than he 'should' have.I've never regretted my decisions I made for him and I'm pretty sure he doesn't either.I think that the parents are the best judge for they're kids.It's up to you to know your child and decide what would work best for them.I don't care about 'fads'.Your talking about something that will have a profound effect on the rest of your childs life.

      November 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  73. eeniebeans

    Our daughter barely made the age cut-off for kindergarten (late summer birthday), but against our better judgement we started her anyway. A couple years later she continued to struggle behind her classmates. She is repeating 3rd grade this year and is having a much better time of it, not just academically, but also socially. The school was reluctant to retain her and told us this was rarely done, but we know this was the best decision we ever could have made. She will still only be 18 when she graduates from high school.

    November 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  74. The Truth

    What, are you afraid the kid will fail naptime? Come on, if the child is not ready for kindergarten then the parents failed plain and simple. Stop making excuses, in the end you are doing a disservice to your child. First grade is the first grade (pun intended) that a child should be evaluated to continue or be held back. Even then the decision should be mutually agreed by both the parents and the teacher. You know like back in the day when parents and teachers were in a partnership to provide the best possible education for the child. Ah the good old days when we pushed our kids and the U.S. was number 1.

    November 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • TWilliams

      Kindergarten isn't just learning colors and playing with playdoh these days. Kindergarten students are expected to attend and participate in writing workshops, science workshops, have math assignments and complete homework every week.
      Rest time in Kindergarten is approximately 20 minutes of quiet time that is needed for children that age.

      Don't mistake that these children are doing real work from day 1!

      November 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
      • It's really changed?

        Hmmm.... In my K class (mid-60s) we DIDN'T HAVE nap time! Never heard of it. "Big kids" who went to K didn't need naps any more, we thought. Same when my now late-20's child went to K. No naps. We did math, reading, writing, painting, play games, evaluated stories for morals and life-lessons, and all those other things you say are "now." Guess it hasn't really changed much at all. Of course, mine was Private K because there wasn't such thing as Public School K until my little brother started; and ALL K classes were 1/2 day (same when my child went; except hers was also public school.) K shouldn't be any less. And each child that attends should, very definitely, be individually evaluated. Sometimes it's just way too easy academically, sometimes too hard socially. Much depends on the child's personality, exposure to peers, maturity in problem solving, etc. No one-size-fits-all. That's never worked.

        November 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  75. eeniebeans

    Our daughter barely made the age cut-off for kindergarten (late summer birthday), but against our better judgement we started her anyway. A couple years later she continued to struggle behind her classmates. She is repeating 3rd grade this year and is having a much better time of it, not just academically, but also socially. The school was reluctant to retain her and told us this was rarely done, but we know this was the best decision we ever could have made. She will still only be 18 when she graduates from high school.

    November 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  76. bibleverse1

    One size does not fit ALL. Take an interest dont guess what is best KNOW

    November 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  77. Wolfgang Halbig

    SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS AND SCHOOL BUS ASSISTANTS/MONITORS WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN YOU.
    The school bus ride from home to school and school to home for a child with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities can be one of the most challenging and traumatic events for a child on a daily basis.

    HELP IS ON THE WAY.

    November 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  78. jdoe

    From my own experience, America as a whole is holding every child back. In Asia and Europe, kids are taught at least one grade level higher than in the U.S. I'm not saying that other countries do it better. I'm just saying that children have a lot more capacity for learning than we believe.

    The inherent problem with education is that, if you challenge every child to his or her potential, there will be kids who learn faster than others, and thus a wide range of learning levels in every class. And no education system anywhere is truly equipped to handle this. Thus kids who do very well are often held back from their full potential.

    I think we should find a way to help each child realize their full potential. A test shouldn't be just about grades. It should be about finding where each child's learning level is, and adjust what they learn next accordingly.

    November 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Eloise Hollyfield Jurgens, EdD

      I couldn't have said it better! Yes, our children are behind those in other countries. We don't begin their education early enough, and we waste learning opportunities by giving them summers off, failing to accept the fact that we are no longer an agrarian nation. Bright children are bored senseless, children who need more time to learn are made to feel stupid, and everyone wants to play the blame game. My solution? (1) Begin schooling at age three and make certain learning is grounded in age-appropriate activities cognitively and physically. (2) Do away with grade levels and allow each child to progress at his or her own rate until mastery of whatever learning task is reached –all the way through high school. (3) Do away with the Carnegie unit system at the secondary level –a student graduates when he or she has mastered that which is studied, not based on the number of units received. (4) Eliminate summer vacation; spring and winter break is sufficient. And while I'm on a roll here, integrate educational, social, and health services to assist struggling parents (usually poor) in meeting the needs of their children through the cooperation of social services.

      November 12, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
      • PrincessBride

        You had me until you said to eliminate summer vacation – spring and winter break is sufficient. I agree that summer vacation should be shorter, but I would never vote to eliminate it entirely. Instead we need to focus on making enrichment programs available to kids whose families cannot afford them. My kids have benefited immensely from family vacations, Scout camping trips, travels with friends, day trips, and yes, sometimes just hanging around and being a kid. Now that they are in high school, they spend most of their summer vacation teaching younger kids at Boy Scout camp. Not all learning occurs in an academic setting. I would never trade the confidence and self-reliance my kids have learned while participating in activities outside of school. I just want to see that same opportunity for disadvantaged kids, who tend to fall behind over the summers because they have no stimulating activities.

        November 13, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  79. msp

    It depends on the child and the parents. Starting kindergarten a year earlier or later is no big deal as long as it is appropriate for the child and his/her parents are ready to step in and compensate for it. The same is true about holding a child back a year. It is only a social problem if the parents allow it to be. Confidence does not come from peer or outside but is an inner strength developed through overcoming obstacles. Never allowing the child to face any hardship deprives him/her the opportunity to develop resiliency. The parents' job is to guide the child through the obstacles and allow him/her to learn from it.

    November 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  80. OregonTom

    I started Kindergarten at age four and entered 12th grade at age sixteen. I think I turned out fine. That being said I felt I had to work harder to keep up with the kids (adults) that started 12th grade at age 18.

    November 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  81. Katie

    The problem with young kids and schools is that schools are completely unprepared to motivate kids whose brains need a lot of attention. Intelligence is often equated with speed (and sometimes motivation) and schools tend to "push" rather than challenge. Very smart children are often bored to tears with preschool and kindergarten and bored to distraction and disruption in grade school. It sounds sad, but it's often true that holding your child back gives them the maturity to better handle the daily drudgery of school because it gives their bodies and their minds a chance to catch up to their brains. School is hardly all about academics, especially preschool and kindergarten. It's about developing and having social skills, and developing large and small motor skills. A smart child may understand all about letter and know how to read, but writing can be a frustrating exercise if one's fine motor skills aren't yet up to the task. No person consists of one body part – children are a complex arrangement of skills and abilities, and they all don't develop at the same rate. Parents who know their own children best are the best people to understand when to begin school.

    November 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • pbernasc

      not sure what's your point .. if you consider school so much inadequate for the education of kids, then why don't you do something to give school the means they need?
      All you say about kids is true .. but if you start out by saying that schools are inadequate, then why do you even care?
      I really don't like negativeness for the sake of negativeness .. propose a solution if you know something needs to be improved.

      November 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
      • Eloise Hollyfield Jurgens, EdD

        Well, I get it. Students may be intellectually advanced but their motor skills are not mature enough for them to meet the demands placed upon them. I don't consider the comments made to be negative; they are simply a statement of fact in too many cases.

        There are so many problems in education, I hardly know where to begin. So, I'm going to wax radical on you, okay? I want students to begin school at the age of three because too many parents are ill-equipped or just too busy (not there fault –life is what it is , and for many parents life is hard).. I want ALL instruction to be age appropriate; I want all education to be individualized as much as possible; I want all children in school during the summer; I want an end to formal grade placements; I want an end to the Carnegie Unit system in high school. Why? Because children are individuals. There learning styles are different. There intellectual abilities are different; their "gifts" are different.

        We have gifted teachers (and, yes, some poor ones) and for the most part, we have loving parents who care deeply about their children's well-being, their happiness, and their education. We have technology (rapidly advancing) to facilitate a non-graded (grade levels), skills-based education where every child can thrive. As skills are learned the child moves on to the next level. Our current system sets children up for failture; I believe all children can succeed. Don't you?

        November 12, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
      • pbernasc

        YES .. good ideas .. now how do you plan to pay for it?
        I am all for what you said .. I would give a few aircraft carriers and nuclear missiles without a blink to get decent schools, unfortunately so far bombs and missiles are thought to be more important than education. All that said, keep up the good work, may be one humanity will wise up and start doing the right thing

        November 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Laura

      Nicely said, Katie.

      November 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Katie

      Good lord, how is it negative to state that bright five year olds are not challenged in school and may not be mature enough to cope with that fact? How is it negative to point out that the schools themselves measure intelligence through artificial means such as emphasis on speed (when physical development may hinder this factor) or self-motivation (when emotional or social development may be a hindrance.) My solution? To hold them back and to let parents know that it's ok to make that call because only they know what's right for their children.

      November 12, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
      • Eloise Hollyfield Jurgens, EdD

        All in all, an excellent response! However, I don't agree with holding the child back (I saw first hand the effect this had on my younger sister). Why do we have to have grade levels at all? Why can we teach skills (cognitive, physical, etc.) in a non-graded environment with individualized instruction being the norm? Food for thought...

        November 12, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  82. Bill

    We kept our middle child back one year. She turned 5 in early September, but our thought was emotionally, she wasn't ready, so she started at 6. We always did a lot of reading and exploring the world we live in, so keeping her mind busy wasn't a problem. She is now a lawyer, who graduated in 2011, president of the law school bar association, hired right out of school and doing very well. What struck me throughout her school years was her total confidence as she went through school. She always felt she could succeed and did.

    November 12, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  83. stuck in lodi

    I have had 2 child ren with late birthdays, Sep & Nov. The decision we made to enter them in at 4 yrs old was based on being able to enter public scholl ASAP. But, I also worked with the teacher, on a day to day bases for the 1st 2 months of KIndergarten, evaluating my child to see if they were frustrated or simply just not understanding the things they were learning. I went to each teacher(i have a boy and girl so i do not think gender plays a role) after 2 months and asked how the kids were doing. Teachers said both children were keeping up or exceding the other children. I was so relieved.
    But, I did learn about maturity for the younger children. My kids could handle the achademics, but were behind in maturity. My daughter had a really hard time making herself sit still. Teachers even tried to lable her ADD, no worried thou, she is doing geat in 4th grade. & my son, well he is going into the navy for nuclear work.
    My best advice is to be very aware rite away, work with th teacher...& by all means...if ur child is struggleing in kindergarten, take them out after 2months & bring them home, give um lots of love & next yr they will be more prepared.. I kinda missed that extra yr with mine.

    November 12, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Burbank

      What happened to your English skills? Your post starts out fine and then you got lazy and started texting in the second paragraph. Makes it look like you suddenly lost several IQ points or were drinking.

      November 12, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
      • Lucy

        Your comment was un-called for and a little harsh. No one is perfect

        November 12, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  84. WSB

    Redshirting here in Connecticut is widespread, especially in affluent areas, thus further perpetuating the achievement gap. But the author defines redshirting as holding back a child from kindergarten until age 6. Current start ages for kindergarten can be as young as 4. In the case of my daughter, a December birthday, she will start kindergarten at age 4, along with many 6 year olds. As much as the author argues against universally-applicable rules, surely she believes that this is too wide an age spread, developmentally. Yet, the state legislators perpetuate this situation.

    November 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • patsj

      In California they've changed the rules so by 2014 the child has to be 5 before Sept 1 to start kindergarten. Those left out can sometimes go to a Pre-K class. Those who are ready but still 4 can appeal and maybe get accepted into kindergarten.

      November 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  85. Jean

    Our youngest son had a June birthday and had a mild stutter. I held him back and he always kind of held it against me UNTIL he registered at Iowa State for engineering and his professor told him that he wouldn't be sitting there if his mom didn't hold him back. He never said a word about it again.

    November 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  86. LeeLo

    We have 2 boys, the older one we kept pushing him ahead with the logic that it was better to keep a struggling child forward– what a huge mistake- we ended up having to pull him out in 8th grade and homeschooling him for year to get him up to grade standings. We should have held him back and we still regret pushing him forward. The self-esteem issues from being constantly behind have left a lot of damage as well.

    For our second guy, we made the call in kindergarten- if he wasn't ready for first, we would repeat kindergarten no matter what the district said. He is in 3rd grade now and thriving even with several learning issues. He has confidence as well as the maturity to try and do well.

    We know all kids are different- why do educators keep trying to tell us that a blanket- move them all forward- policy works? We know all kids learn differently and need different things we should be more concerned with them learning and meeting the goals to move forward then what age they are.

    November 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Chris

      In my opinion, the "blanket forward" policy is followed because it is EASIER for the teacher, administrator and school district. It looks bad on the school district's records when children are held behind, regardless whether they are ready for the next grade or not. My child failed a core third grade component due to a learning disability, although his teacher claimed it was because he was a "behavior problem". When I questioned this decision I was told he grasped the concepts. Seriously? He had an "F" in the subject for the entire year! How is that grasping the concepts?

      November 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
      • Aaron

        Actually the "blanket forward" policies are not there for the ease of teachers and administrators, it i sin place because of money. States give schools a set amount of money per student per year. If the school retains a student in a grade level, then the school does not get money for that student until they achieve the next higher grade level. I, as a teacher and parent, would welcome the idea of a scholl that actually would have the courage to say, "this child did not grasp what is necessary for them to succeed in the next grade level, and therefore will repeat their current year."

        November 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
      • TeacherMom

        Teachers have no say in policies like holding children back if they are not ready. Many teachers suggest retention for some students only to be attacked by parents who want their child moved forward and the district who loses money. In my experience as a teacher POLICIES are NEVER made for the ease of the teacher. Usually it comes down to decisions by district officials based upon money and/or political clout with the local school boards.

        November 12, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Chris

      In my opinion, the "blanket forward" policy is followed because it is EASIER for the teacher, administrator and school district. It looks bad on the school district's records when children are held behind, regardless whether they are ready for the next grade or not. My child failed a core third grade component due to a learning disability, although his teacher claimed it was because he was a "behavior problem". When I questioned this decision I was told he grasped the concepts. Seriously? He had an "F" in the subject for the entire year! How is that grasping the concepts? It's been 2 years now and he still has difficulty with this particular subject.

      November 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
      • TeacherMom

        The teacher should have implemented intervention strategies to help your child succeed. Behavior problems do not warrant an "F" grade. If I were you, I would have been in that classroom daily as a volunteer inspecting what was going on with my child. I have tw children and my husband and I made sure to take time off of work to spend time in the classroom helping the teacher and observing our child. I am surprised they even give "F" grades in elementary. Here elementary children score "advanced, proficient, basic, below basic and very below basic with specific weaknesses assessed and then interventions to help the student with that learning strand.

        November 12, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • hilaryc

      I'm a 10 year veteran middle school teacher and I've never heard any colleague support blanket "move ahead" policies. In fact, in our district PARENTS have the final say in retention/promotion of students and their recommendations to retain are almost always overruled by parents. I don't think it's "educators" supporting this policy. In fact, I can't tell from the article if this author ever spent any time TEACHING in a classroom...

      November 12, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  87. MysteriaKiito

    My mom held my brother back in kindergarten on the teacher's suggestion so he'd catch up age wise. It wasn't that he wasn't ready for 1st grade, they just thought it would help him socially. It ended up being detrimental. He dropped out in high school and wasn't exactly better off socially either. He held it against my mom for a long time because he DID have friends in his previous class even if he was a year younger.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  88. Sarah

    I can attest to the idea that things even out by 3rd grade. My daughter was 4 when she started kindergarten, turned 5 in late Sept. She thrived socially, but was definitely "middle of the pack" academically till the end of 2nd grade, when something kicked in, and she started caring more about doing well in school. Now she's in 7th grade, and still at the top of her class. I worry some about her going off to college at age 17, but the idea of a gap year at 17 to engage in a rewarding volunteer experience sounds better to me than an extra year spent in preschool would have been.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  89. mom of three

    I have three children and we decided to "red shirt" my middle child for kindergarten. It was not an easy decision to make and I had to get input from everyone that worked with her (care taker, pre-K teacher, occupational therapist) and go with my gut. It was the best decision I could have made. As I watched her finish year two of pre-K my gut was telling me she just was not ready. It is definitely not the trend where I live to "red shirt" a child. I did not want her experience in kindergarten to be a negative one where she was always feeling she had to play catch up with others. Giving my daughter that year has made her confident in the classroom and is making her kindergarten year a positive one.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  90. Hollywood

    Children are resilient. My son had ADD and was not emotionally ready to progress with his group. He thrived by being given the gift of another year.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  91. Tex Proud

    My son is a late August birthday. Always the youngest in his class, but physically one of the tallest boys. His one true enemy is boredom. He needed the challenge of moving on and has excelled in school and sports. He plays "up" a year in soccer and is a team leader. The answer to this question is kid specific. Some are ready, some aren't.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  92. Marie

    I didn't put my kids in day care or preschool. I or my husband was always with them as we split the child care duties and worked opposite shifts. I tried my best to teach them what they would need to know to be ready for kindergarten. My oldest went in to school in good shape, he just got right in there and did great. My younger sons were not the same. They were both younger when they started kindergarten. My middle son took a while to get on track and was held back in the 2nd grade. My youngest was held back in the 1st grade. This issue in my opinion doesn't have much to do with whether they were still 4 when they entered kindergarten or 5. I think schools are quick to pass along a student that isn't quite doing well, before they are ready. Fundamentals are so important. If your child doesn't do well in kindergarten you have to have the guts to say my child isn't ready to move on. I think that was hard for me and for the kids but in the end was the best decision I made for them. They are now doing very well and I am so proud of them. Know your child and don't allow them to be passed through the system without getting a good education.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  93. A. Goodwin

    We held our son back this year – he is in 2nd grade. For him, he develop epilepsy at age two and since has had to deal with 3-4 grand mals per day and over 100 myoclonic seizures per day. In January 2011 our son began the keogenic diet and by December 2011 our son became seizure-free.

    Pretty much the moment our son stopped having seizures, he started to develop like a normal child he age. Before his seizures stopped he was unable to learn, drooled on himself constantly, and was so physically tired all the time...that his ability to do anything was compromised. That all ended last year, and since he has had to play major catch-up. He had to learn all of the things that most kids learn in preschool through 2nd grade. Things like circle time, reading, math, etc.

    Our son's second grade teacher has NEVER held a child back in the near 20 years that she has been teaching. When we started thinking about it last year, she was conflicted. We had a choice – move him ahead with his peers with the knowledge that he would need a 1:1 in the classroom to consistently explain things – including spending lots of time out of the classroom to play catch up. OR, we could hold him back so that he could learn the foundations of education (reading/writing, etc) – so that he could be successful at school.

    Many friends and family tried to talk us out of keeping him back – some of whom are educators. After all, most studies do indicate that its better to have struggling children move ahead. However, what do you do about a child who has always been a sick child....who becomes normal? Its not like he was a little bit behind.

    I am happy to report that my son in just 10 months after becoming seizure free is nearly at grade level in education. He was absolutely FINE with staying back, and now has friends – lots of them. Nobody wanted to be friends with the "sick" kid before, and he is in a situation where nobody really knew his past – he's simply like the "new" kid in class.

    I sit with my son every night and he reads to me, and I'm in awe how fast he is catching up. His self confidence has SKYROCKETED. After years of him never being into sports – he is excited to start basketball next year. After years of never having friends – he has a ton of them. But most importantly – he feels good about staying back.

    Good luck to those who have to make the decision. Its never an easy one. But make the decision based on your OWN child and what you think their needs are...not some study that say's no. Do what you think is right for your own child.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  94. Surthurfurd

    I have been elementary school teaching children for over 18 years and between my observations, research articles, and a comparison of grade scores of students in the 5th grade (teased out by relative age). The older peer students do better and struggle less in school. There are no good answers as long as we hold on to the production line model of education. If parents would step up and demand schools be child centered we could make a difference. In a child centered program all students are on individualized tracks. We would have to get rid of traditional A, B, C, D, E grading and move to a mastery based program. The problem with this is: far too many parents and politicians want us to reach 21st century goals with early 20th century methods.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Marie

      Most school districts do not grade kids on the traditional A,B,C,D,F scale until at least the 3rd grade. I think it is way more simple than you think. I think kids must develop on an individual basis and should not move on to a new grade until they have mastered the garde they are currently in. What makes sense about passing on a child in trouble? Nothing. Why is it done? It's done because schools don't want that to make them look like they aren't doing a good job so they pass the kids on until the kid gets in 8th grade and is preforming on a 5th grade level. Then the kid is so far behind there is no way possible for them to graduate and do well in college. I think the 21 century way is half a**ed and backwards.

      November 12, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • PrincessBride

      I graduated high school at 17 (September birthday). I was bored to tears all throughout school – it wasn't until college that I took any courses I found to be challenging. I've seen the same with my kids – they're both April birthdays, so they "should" be in the middle of the pack, but academically they are at the top, even over kids who were red-shirted and are far older. My daughter had two friends in her grade – one who was a September birthday, was a year younger than the rest of the class, and struggled mightily and would have benefited from an extra year. Another girl was a year and a half younger than most of her peers, and far more mature and a much better student. You can't predict at age 5 what type of student a child will become. But I agree that our current age-level tracking hurts many students who need more time to mature, and holds back many bright students who are capable of more. Skipping a grade is sometimes a possibility, but that has issues just like holding back does. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had the resources to provide extra help to those kids who need it, while providing an accelerated learning experience to those kids ready to handle it?

      November 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  95. J

    I had one child go in at barely 5 and another go in at 5 & 3/4. Each child is different. But when I wanted to hold back my child back another grade level, it was harder to do, they wanted to psycho-analyze him and see what why etc. As a partent I felt like I had no control over him. Only a parent knows what is best for his or her own child. My experience is that it is usually easier down the line to have a child pass a grade than to be held back.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  96. just me

    too much missing in the article to evaluate. I think first and foremost when deciding this becomes what is the cut off date for starting school. Is it the same in every state? Here in Canada it differs by province, with the latest I know of being the child must be 5 by Feb 29, XX. It can make a huge difference if your 4 for nearly 6 1/2 of the 9 months as opposed to just 4 of the 9 months you're in school. Personally, mine was held back as his birthday was near the end of February, and he was not the only one, there were 5 other boys held back voluntarily whose birthday's were in February. Oddly, they all graduated near the top of their classes

    November 12, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Chris

      In our state it varies by school district. My boys have a mid-July birthday. When they were just turning 5, the cut-off date for kindergarten was Sept 30. They went to preschool in another school district where the cut-off was July 30. Their preschool teachers urged us to wait another year to start them in school. Fortunately for our children, we went with our instincts and started them that year. One of my boys was full-grade accelerated in 3rd grade, the other is also in the gifted program. I don't believe a 2nd year of preschool would have benefited them in the slightest.

      November 12, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  97. kpkpkp

    This person is basically trying to offer a perspective that is an alternative. I hate to do this but I question her true motives. There are so many people trying establish themselves as leaders in education. She offers nothing new and nothing of great import that gives anyone reason to consider. Her lack of understanding of the reality of children in todays schools is another example of ivory tower leadership. Try again.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  98. Christina

    My son's birthday is on November 30th – the last day of kindergarten eligibility for 4 year olds. I went back and forth – do I have him start school or do I wait until the following year? I finally decided that I would have him start school with the expectation that if he was academically or socially unready to move on to the 1st grade – I would have him repeat Kindergarten. As it turned out socially he thrived, but academically he was immature and I didn't feel that he would be able to keep up in 1st grade. I had him repeat Kindergarten and by the end of his "repeat" year he was thriving on all fronts. I have no regrets over this approach.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  99. Gladwell Outliers

    I wonder how this reconciles with Malcom Gladwell's Outliers book. In it, he says that research shows that a difference in capabilities due to age in Kindergarten creates a stratification of children which then persists throughout their lives. A kid 11 months older will be more developed, get used to "being the leader", etc. while the younger one will get used to being told to "do better", have lower expectations of him, etc.

    The book says that this persists through life. The article says "Most research clearly shows that any gaps in levels of success between younger and older children are usually bridged by the third grade."

    I wonder which is right.

    November 12, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Agree

      I've read Malcom's Outliers book too, and have to agree with his premise and statistics. I've experienced in my own life, and have seen it in the lives of others Some people just have the 'magic birthday' for some activity, be it school, sports or something else.

      When my youngest son was ready to start school, we had to make a choice in the opposite direction. That is, we could have gotten him into school a year early (he could easily handle it), or wait until the following year when his birthday would place his as the oldest in his class. We chose to wait.

      Being the oldest in his grade, he's also among the smartest, biggest, and most mature. His teachers expect him to do well, so he does well. They expect him to lead, so he leads. They challenge him (advanced reading group, math etc), so he learns more than the others. It plays on itself. He's in 5th grade now, and I see no indication that his advantage over his peers will diminish at least until he's in college, and by then he'll be so used to success that he'll just continue to succeed.

      I know other kids who have the 'magic birthday' for the swim team, and see their success follow the same patterns. They end up the being stars and becoming the coaches based on the success their birthday has helped them achieve.

      Outliers is a fantastic book. A real eye opener. That being said, any individual kid can excel at anything they want to apply themselves towards.

      November 12, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Probablygoing2makeumad!

      I have an August birthday and my boys have June and July birthdays. We all went to school when we were 5. "Redshirting" is what is causing the problem with the gaps in development and success in the early years of school. Of course, my child isn't going to do as well as a child that is a full year older than him. It drives me crazy that the standard today is to ignore the guidelines of the school district and to send kids to school when they are older. I do understand that for some children it's appropriate to wait and I wholeheartedly support that. There are differences in the development of children and some kids, whether an older 5 or a younger 5, just aren't ready. My problem is with the parents of children that are ready for kindergarten but they start their kids late so that they will be the best of the best! Should we all start waiting to send our kids to school so that our child can be the smartest and the most mature and the best leaders? If we do, the "redshirters" will have to double redshirt and we'll have 7 year olds in kindergarten! If a child is ready emotionally, socially and intellectually, holding him/her back so that he/she will have a better advantage is creating too much difference in the educational needs of children in the classrooms which negatively impacts all of the children in the classroom.

      November 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
      • earthshoes44

        I had an August birthday too and no one realized until I was floundering in third grade that I was notably younger than many of my peers. They held me back then and it worked.

        Frankly, other parents weren't put on this earth to help your children succeed. Their primary concern will always be with their own children's well-being and if that means that their child will be a full year older than yours, then so be it. It is entirely about the individual child and what's best for them. And, yes, parents do know what's best for their own children.

        November 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
      • PrincessBride

        Probably – I agree with you. I support parents who hold their children back because they feel the children are not ready academically or socially, or that the children lack the maturity to sit still and focus for long enough. I too have seen many parents who held back children who WERE ready for the sole purpose of having their child be the best. Then they brag about their 7th grader doing 8th grade level work. A child who should be in 8th grade, but is in 7th and doing 8th grade work, is not "gifted" – they're performing at an age-appropriate level, but since they're in the wrong grade, they divert teaching resources that could be put to better use.

        November 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
      • Anne

        There were 7 year olds in my child's kindergarten class.

        November 12, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
      • NP

        Totally agree w/ you Probablygoing2makeumad. This practice drives me crazy also! Of course there are exceptions, for example the child w/ epilepsy mentioned in an earlier post. But those children should be the exception, not the rule!

        November 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
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