Should You Delay Sending Your Child to Kindergarten?

A prestigious Harvard education journal says 'redshirting' is not a good idea.

July 8, 2017 5:00 am

There is a school of thought among parents that delaying their children’s entry into kindergarten for a year could be beneficial. The practice, known as academic redshirting, is built on the belief that an extra year allows kids time to develop skills and maturity to succeed, according to a new report in Harvard’s Education Next journal.

But the prestigious publication pulls on the expertise of an education research and preschool director to educate its readers that redshirting is generally not worth the lost year.

The reasons are multifaceted, but deserve serious consideration. Education Next points out that both preschools and elementary schools often recommend the practice, but their motivations are not necessarily pure: To put it plainly, older children are easier to teach, perform at higher levels, and make the school’s overall job just a little bit easier.

There’s also the fact that any advantage a redshirted child may have dissipates quickly, according to Education Next. Although their academic achievement may surpass their peers’ in early years, research shows this tapers off by the beginning of high school.

The journal does note that there are some distinct gains that redshirting may provide — specifically when considering grade retention and special education placement. Statistically, the journal points out, older children are less likely to be diagnosed with learning disabilities like ADHD, and are less likely to be held back a grade due to high achievement in early years. But overall, the journal writes, most parents considering redshirting likely do not have children who would ever perform at levels that would put them at risk for grade retention.

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