They are calling it “redshirting”: the choice a parent makes to hold their child with a summer birthday and start them the next year. This piece on 60 Minutes makes it out to sound like parents are obsessed with getting their child the “advantage”.
I have a son with a summer birthday and I started him late. Here are the factors that influenced my decision:
- Age of boys in our neighborhood that he played with (there was no one nearby that would have been in the same grade as him, yet there were several boys right in our neighborhood who would have been in the younger grade. They all had fall birthdays – so he was actually closer in age with them as opposed to his counterparts in the older grade).
- Age range he related to better (I noticed a distinct difference between the social level he was on, and the level his cousin who was 9 months older and in the older grade)
- Every teacher I asked said “I can always tell the boys in my class with summer birthdays, I’d hold him”
- Trusting my gut
My son is not big, nor is he small. He looks like an average 3rd grader even though he is the oldest in the class. I think academically he would have done just as well in either grade. I could care less about how this affects him in sports, as a matter of fact, it generally has no effect at all to this point. He would have still been on all of the same teams he is on now based on his birthday.
My decision was based on what seemed to make the most sense for him, both socially and emotionally. I don’t think it’s stacking the system or a reflection of obsessive parents to hold your child and to try to do what you feel is the best fit for your child. Whether you home school, enroll in an open classroom, or private education, every parent has the right to do what they think is best for their child. Considering the state of our educational system, we owe parents at least that.
What do you think? Do you have a child with a summer birthday? How have you, or will you, handle when to start kindergarten registration?
I wrote this post almost 3 years ago! My son is now in 6th grade and we are staring Jr. High in the face next fall! I’m still SO glad that we started him late as we watch all of the kids mature at such different rates. He’s definitely in the right place.