The "Goldilocks Dilemma": Overplacement, Red-Shirting, or Just Right? (page 2)
The term overplacement refers to a child being placed in an academic setting that is beyond or over the child’s developmental readiness, and in which the child’s individual needs are not able to be met.17 The term red-shirting refers to a child being held back a year in order to be at an advantage physically, socially, or academically.18
Not Quite Right: Issues of Overplacement and Red-Shirting
Parents may sometimes feel like Goldilocks from the classic children’s story, looking for the solution that’s “just right.” Depending on your community and school options, you may find yourself asking, “Will my child be in over her head and left behind?” or “Should I hold my child back so he will come out ahead?” or “Can I find the program that meets my child where she is?”
Your best bet is to research the schools in your area, ask questions whether you have options for school placement or not, and learn more about the curriculum and expectations where your child will be enrolled. If you do not have an option as to where your child will go to Kindergarten, you can still advocate for best practice and the implementation of developmentally appropriate curriculum. Remember, you are your child’s best advocate.
As described in this article, a child’s readiness for a particular school program is indicated by his or her physical, social, emotional, and academic readiness, leading to his or her ability to cope and sustain in that environment without undue stress or awkwardness.
Some children may show signs of strain when placed in a school situation before they are fully ready to meet the demands of that classroom and if there are not the proper supports and resources in place to meet the child where he or she is developmentally. A child in this situation may exhibit the following behaviors as indicators of stress.19
Overt (easy to see) Indicators
- Physical – exhibits fatigue, frequent colds, inconsistent visual and hearing perceptions
- Social – has difficulty making or maintaining friends, may lash out in anger against peers or may withdraw from peers, relates better with younger children
- Intellectual – has difficulty finishing work, erratic achievement (good one week, poor for two weeks), performs at low or average level despite a high IQ
- Emotional – may be moody and easily upset, does not enjoy or want to go to school
Covert (more difficult to spot) Indicators
- Avoidance – may avoid dealing with problems, frequently daydreaming
- Conformity – wants to please others to an extreme, does only what is asked, tries to make the teacher happy, exhibits very little creative thinking
- Passive Resistance – does not argue, may even be pleasant and agree with everything, but is resistant when it comes to doing anything
- Overdrive – may have extremely high social and academic skills, but may not be very creative; mainly interested in obtaining good grades; appears to “have everything,” but may be at great risk for eventual burnout.
Do keep these signs in mind, with the understanding that some of these behaviors may be indicators of other stress in the child’s life, and don’t be afraid to seek the advice of a professional if such behaviors become worrisome. However, don’t let worries about overplacement lead you directly to holding your child back to get an advantage.
While delaying Kindergarten entry can have immediate short term benefits including less stress associated with the learning environment, increased motivation to learn, and stronger self concept; research has shown that delaying Kindergarten alone does not have a long-term affect on academic success for the average child.20 However, these studies frequently do not address immediate gains or overall social-emotional gains.
Indeed, there can be negative effects from either of these practices, and while the terms are somewhat outdated, they do refer to situations and circumstances that still occur in the real world, even in the 21st century. It is important to understand that each child has individual differences and needs that may be addressed through differing strategies depending on the school environment and available resources.
We can not stress enough the importance of understanding the demands and expectations of the Kindergarten program where your child will be enrolled – be sure to talk to teachers and/or administrators at your child’s prospective school before making enrollment decisions for your child.
The "Goldilocks Dilemma": Overplacement, red-shirting, or just right? You Are Here
Reprinted with permission of the Gesell Institute. Copyright © 2010, Gesell Institute of Human Development. All Rights Reserved.
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