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Academic Redshirting and Young Children (page 2)

By — Educational Resource Information Center (U.S. Department of Education)
Updated on Dec 16, 2008

Suggestions for Parents

Because the research is inconclusive about the effects of redshirting and few school districts prohibit it, parents are usually the ones who have to decide whether to keep their child out of kindergarten for an extra year. The following are some points for parents to consider in making a decision:

  • Be clear about the specific characteristics of your child that cause you to be unsure about his or her readiness to begin kindergarten with age-mates. In other words, don't delay entrance into kindergarten just because the child is likely to be among the youngest in the class or has a summer birthday.
  • Check the school's kindergarten readiness screening procedures or tests to get an idea of how your child might fare in the kindergarten classroom in which she or he will most likely be placed.
  • Be assertive about finding out what the school expects of entering kindergarteners and the school's suggestions on how you can help your youngster to be prepared.
  • Solicit the views of your child's preschool teacher about his or her readiness for kindergarten. Ask, for example, whether your child made some friends in her preschool group. Was he or she usually able to follow directions? Does your child appear to the preschool teacher to be ready to begin academic work?
  • Find out more about the nature of the kindergarten program. Is it very formal? Is it organized primarily around formal instruction in basic skills or around more informal "learning centers?" Organizing children's learning around informal learning centers can accommodate a greater developmental range of children than a formal, structured arrangement in which basic skills are taught to the whole group of children in rows of desks.
  • Is the class size larger than 25? A very shy child might find a large class more difficult to adjust to than he would a class of around 20 or less. Class size may be a more important consideration for a shy child than even for a child who is not shy but who lacks physical coordination.
  • What else would your child be doing if she did not start kindergarten? Would the child have easy and safe access to playmates and play spaces? Are there easily available (and affordable) good preschool programs for your child?
  • Ask the future kindergarten teacher for suggestions about what you can do at home to help your child reach the same skill level as future classmates.
  • Be careful about conveying your own apprehension about starting school to your child. If you approach the beginning of kindergarten with your child with real confidence and sufficient reassurance, and, if possible, share any concerns with the teacher, your child will adjust rapidly.
  • Be careful not to exaggerate to a child how much fun she or he will have in kindergarten. It would probably be best to say something like "You'll make new friends, get to do lots of interesting things, but there will be one or two times when you wish you were at home. But those times will pass. You'll see." This kind of forewarning can often prevent a child from coming unstrung when the inevitable difficult moments do occur.
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