Hubby and I watched this segment of 60 Minutes entitled “Redshirting: Holding kids back from kindergarten” Sunday night. Are any of you familiar with the term outside of the sports world?! Well, we weren’t.
Here is the definition of redshirting I was familiar with:
verb (used with object2. to withdraw (an athlete) from varsity competition.
This is what redshirting means to many parents in this country:
3. to hold a child out of kindergarten for one year in the hope that the child will do better academically and socially.
I was shocked by this story not only because of the content, but I had no idea this even existed! In South Carolina if a child doesn’t turn 5 before September 1st, that child cannot begin kindergarten that year. RJ’s birthday is November 12th. So, though he will turn 5 in 2015, he won’t be able to begin kindergarten until 2016.
*I’m not sure if the rules will be different for private schools. When he’s ready to start kindergarten, we plan to send him to catholic school. Regardless, with his November birth month, redshirting is not an issue. I guess he was redshirted by birth! However, as we begin thinking about and planning for baby #2, redshirting maybe an issue. That is if I actually fed into the notion.*
Before seeing this story, I had been very vocal to Hubby about how wrong I thought it was that RJ might have to wait a year to begin kindergarten. He would have to wait an extra year all because I decided I wanted to be on maternity leave during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s!
Yes, I’m that controlling that I planned when we should get pregnant so I could home for my baby’s first major holidays! Remember, at the time, I worked in television. If I was out for 3 months early in the year, I would definitely have had to work all of those holidays. All I have to say is keeping a chart of my temperature every morning at 6am worked for us!
Anyway back to redshirting, I had some experience with our state and what I believe to be a downfall of being a November baby. I lived in NYC until I was 5. I attended and graduated from kindergarten in Brooklyn, before we moved south. *Full ceremony, cap, gown and the whole 9 yards.* However, while registering me for school in SC, my mom was was told I would have to repeat kindergarten, due to my November birth date. Apparently, had I finished the 1st grade in NY, they would not have made me repeat it. I was really upset. I’d finished kindergarten, there was a ceremony and everything, but I had to do it all over again. Not to mention, I already KNEW the material!
So, that’s why the notion of purposely holding a child back from school because he’s going to be the youngest in his class, if he goes when his birthdate dictates, is lost on me. I honestly don’t believe that just being the oldest child in a class that makes that kid a leader in life. Nor do I believe it automatically makes them smarter than everyone else in the class. Was I smarter than the other kids in my kindergarten class? Well, it’s possible. What’s also possible is the fact that I had already been exposed to, studied and passed the grade already, gave me a slight edge!!!
During the year while these parents are holding their kids back, they are more than likely training and teaching them at home or in some setting. Why not do that in a school? Didn’t we all know a kid who was brilliant, uber-popular, the sports god, or all three in school? Raise you hand if one or more of the people you know who fits this description is just leading an average life or a downright crappy life right now. I wish I had arms like the mom from The Incredibles right now! The point is, there are NO guarantees in life.
It’s not just the notion of holding the kids back that bothered me, it’s the reasoning behind it. Wanting you child to be smarter is one thing but doing this so the child can be popular or good at a sport is crazy to me. News flash: No matter how you stack it, some kids aren’t going to be popular, good at sports or brainiacs. Also, how much pressure is that on the child?! I’m not saying I going to be slack about RJ’s education because that is not the case. However, I want him to enjoy school and being a little kid. If he struggles, we will do all we can to help him. I just don’t want him stressing out because little Johnny, who’s 3 months younger than him, is writing his name neater than he is, got to lead the line to the water fountain more times than he has or was chosen to be the “goose” in Duck Duck Goose before him!