Is Redshirting Your Kindergartner a Good Idea?
Academic redshirting took hold in the late 1990s as a means of giving certain children time to mature and develop basic academic abilities in light of more rigorous kindergarten standards. Although the practice is not new, the rising age of newly enrolled kindergartners is causing some experts to question the benefits.
While 6-year-olds do tend to score better on tests than 5-year-olds, some research indicates that the advantage? evens out by the time the child reaches middle school. Further, a study published in 2007 by the? National Bureau of Economic Research? found that children who are older than their classmates don't necessarily benefit academically or socially.
"What happens when you delay the start of kindergarten is that some 6-year-olds haven't been around other kids before," said Celia C. Ayala, CEO of? Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP). "When kids are 6 they're bigger than the other kids, and they may not engage with younger kids. They could experience some awkwardness that could have an impact on their self-esteem."
In addition, some analyses indicate that parents who choose to redshirt their children tend to be? white or Asian and have higher household incomes, leading to an achievement gap between redshirted children and those from low-income households. Research from the Child Care of America 2012 Report and the National Center for Education Statistics found that poor students are three times more likely to repeat kindergarten than their wealthier counterparts. This, said Ayala, underscores the need for affordable, quality preschool.
Preschool, Ayala stressed, is the best way to ensure children are ready for kindergarten. "I would say 90 percent of children are ready to start kindergarten at age 5," Ayala noted. "But if there's a question, I encourage parents to talk to their local school, meet with the teacher, and see what goes on in the classroom."
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