The Pros & Cons of Redshirting

Does your child have a late birthday? Have you thought about holding them back? Let us help you weigh the pros & cons.

Redshirting, as it is commonly referred to, is when parents choose to hold their kids back a year from starting kindergarten. Oftentimes, if your child is born later in the year, closer to the academic cut off date, there may often be a solid reason for this choice. But there are also parents who use this method to give their kids a leg-up on the others, academically, athletically and socially. The topic of redshirting can often lead to a lot of red-faced moms who feel passionately about when kids should start school, particularly if they’ve had to make this choice for their own child.


So how do you know if you should redshirt your child? We discuss a few pros and cons below and would love to hear your comments and feedback.



If your child is considered behind socially, is this enough of a reason to hold them back in kindergarten? There will always be that kid or kids in class who have a harder time sharing, making friends, or tend to cry more than others. But are these reasons to hold them back or just have more play dates and work harder to boost their social skills? There have been studies that have seen better self-regulation in children who have redshirted. Children who start kindergarten a year later are significantly less likely to struggle with inattention and or hyperactivity, which is an indicator of self-regulation, according to one Stanford study. The results affect children even later in childhood, with delayed-entry children showing a 73 percent reduction in hyperactivity and inattention at age 11.



There has not been proven evidence to any academic advantage to kids who redshirt. If anything, there could actually be negative effects to this. Kids who are the oldest in the class may gain an academic boost in the short-term but could lead to boredom down the road. As a New Yorker article points out, kids who grow bored with school during their early years are at risk of falling behind in high school and college because of underdeveloped study skills. Some findings even suggest that delayed kindergarten may be linked to increased high school dropout rates. However, on the flip side, there has been a link to higher test scores with delayed-entry kindergartners. Although these heightened test results may only be temporary, they may give students an early win that encourages a love of learning.



Older kids tend to be taller and stronger than those who are younger. So there is some proof that especially boys who ‘redshirt’ do tend to have some of an advantage for athletics, however this is not always the case.



Aside from the additional cost it will cost you as a parent to hold back your child for one more year of preschool or daycare, there is also the economic cost for your child later in life. If they are held back now, that’s one more year they will be in school, and one less year for them to make their own money in the workforce.


Lastly, it would be beneficial to speak to your child’s teacher and doctor. After all, the teachers are with your child all day every day and see first-hand how your child measures up against the other kids in their class. And your child’s pediatrician should have an opinion based on their development. They should have a pretty good opinion on the matter. But at the end of the day, there is no right answer. You ultimately know your child the best and will make the right choice for your child.

About the Author

Becca Greenwald 

Health-conscientious (and tired) mama to two adorable little boys, writing from my own experiences. @beccababybrody

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