"Redshirting" Kids in Kindergarten Has Advantages

"Redshirting" your child to give them an advantage in the classroom

By Lindsay Wilcox
|  Monday, Mar 1, 2010  |  Updated 10:09 AM CDT
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"Redshirting" Kids Has Advantages

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Children in kindergarten class.

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"Redshirting" Kids Has Advantages

Parents are redshirting their kids in hopes of giving them an advantage in the classroom.
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When Lauren Rozas was five years old, her parents made the decision to keep her out of kindergarten an extra year. 

"She tested very much ready to go to kindergarten, but her birthday is Aug. 16, about five days before school would start," said her mother, Melissa.

The practice known as 'redshirting' became popular in West Texas back in the 80's to give children an advantage in sports.

"Parents were holding their boys out of kindergarten to make them bigger and stronger and better high school players," said Dr. Deborah Diffily, PhD, Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education, SMU. 

Now, parents like Melissa Rozas are redshirting their kids in hopes of giving them an advantage in the classroom. 

"I think she was ready, intellectual-wise; knew her letters, numbers, sounds," said Rozas. "But emotionally, I don't think she was ready."

In Texas, a child must be five by Sept. 1 to start kindergarten, but because the grade is not required, many parents choose to redshirt kids with late birthdays.

A 2006 study showed redshirting gave students a 4 percent advantage on standardized tests through the 8th grade. 
Newer studies show it may not be about age at all.

"The most recent research we have shows it isn't how old the child is when he or she starts kindergarten. It's what they come into kindergarten knowing," said Diffily.

Redshirting typically happens in upper-middle class families where parents can afford an extra year of childcare and can also provide greater life experience for their kids. 

"Children from upper-middle class families tend to have parents who talk with them a lot, who read with them, and who take them on trips to the zoo," said Diffily. 

Whether it's the extra year of preparation or not, Melissa said Lauren loves school.

"Loves school, loves reading, and is very confident," said Rozas. 

She says that excitement about learning is affirmation she made the right decision for her daughter.

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