It is a given that all parents want the best for their child. They want their kid to be one of the smartest, fastest, most skillful kids in the class.
And now parents are going to extremes, some say, to give their child a perceived head start in school. It sounds counterintuitive, but some parents now believe that to give their child a head start, they need to hold him or her back.
For children with "late" birthdays (generally in the spring or summer) some parents are making the decision to "redshirt" their child, which basically means to not send their child to kindergarten simply based on their birthday.
The idea of redshirting is derived from college sports. Redshirt athletes are allowed to practice with the team for their freshman year, but do not compete, making them bigger, stronger, and more competitive when they do start competing.
For many states, the age cut off for school is Sept. 1. So if a child turns 5 years of age prior to September 1, most school systems will allow him or her to be placed into kindergarten. A child born on Sept. 2 or later will have to wait another year before they can start school.
By redshirting, parents are holding their child back to give them an extra year in preschool so the child is well-prepared, or even advanced, academically, physically and emotionally.
This child would start kindergarten at 6 years old, giving them a perceived competitive edge over kids a year younger.
Ann Densmore, EdD, a child behavior expert and co-author of "Your Successful Preschooler", does not think redshirting children to create classes of 6 and 7 year-old kindergarteners is the answer, but does understand why some parents choose this route.
Densmore believes that the pressures of standardized tests and other pressures have changed the direction of elementary education.
In a May 2012 interview Densmore said, "Gone are the days when kindergarten teachers hold up a letter and ask the class to name it. Today, kindergarten is drawing, writing, literacy, reading, and science and math and all those subjects that kids didn’t used to get until first or second grade.”