Academic Redshirting and Young Children
The term redshirting originally referred to postponing a college athlete's participation in regular season games for one year to give him an extra year of further growth and practice with the team in the hope of improving the player's skills for future seasons.
Academic redshirting for young children refers to the practice of postponing entrance into kindergarten of age-eligible children in order to allow extra time for socioemotional, intellectual, or physical growth. This kind of redshirting is most often practiced in the case of children whose birthdays are so close to the cut-off dates that they are very likely to be among the youngest in their kindergarten class. This Digest discusses what studies have said thus far about redshirting and its potential effects, and offers suggestions for parents considering delaying their child's entrance into kindergarten.
Incidence of Redshirting
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that academic redshirting occurs at the rate of about 9% per year among kindergarten-age children (West, Meek, & Hurst, 2000). Redshirting has traditionally been more common in affluent communities and for children attending private schools, although some scholars speculate that there may have been a recent increase in certain public school districts (Brent et al., 1996). According to NCES, boys are more often redshirted than girls, and children born in the latter half of the year are more likely to be redshirted than those born earlier. The NCES report also shows that white, non-Hispanic children are more than twice as likely as black, non-Hispanic children to have entered kindergarten later than their birthdays allowed (West, Meek, & Hurst, 2000).
Redshirting may be a response to demands for a higher level of school readiness (Graue & DiPerna, in press; May et al., 1995). In a national survey, teachers indicated that 48% of their students were not ready for the current kindergarten curriculum (NCEDL, 1998). Alarmingly high percentages of teachers indicated that half of their students lacked important skills, including "following directions" (46%), "academic skills" (36%), and the ability to "work independently" (34%). In light of such data, many scholars suggest that academic curricula are not appropriate for young children (Graue & DiPerna, in press; May et al., 1995; Shepard & Smith, 1988).
Reprinted with the permission of the Education Resources Information Center.
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