Figuring out when your child is ready for kindergarten is something every parent has to decide.
But it’s even more important for those whose kids turn 5 years old around the beginning of the school year and the age cut-off deadline.
More parents are considering the idea of waiting for school, known as kindergarten redshirting, which is changing the shape of our classrooms.
Brennan Owens celebrated her 5th birthday just days after the start of the new school year.
Her mom Logan knows her daughter could have easily adjusted to kindergarten.
She, on the other hand…
“I wasn’t ready to send her. Maybe a little more selfishly and emotionally for me, but I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to send her if I could have another year with her.”
In Maine, childrenmust be 5 by October 15th to be age-eligible for kindergarten.
Parents whose children have late summer or early fall birthdays have always had to be most aware of the cut-off date.
But Mary Ellin Logue, an Associate Professor in Early Childhood Education at UMaine, says in recent years, there’s also been more consideration given to holding off on school until children are 6, dubbed as kindergarten redshirting.
“The idea of redshirting came out of the sports world of families who wanted their children to be bigger and strong for high school sports, so they started later. They would have gone through their growth spurt, they would be better able to compete at that level and be more successful athletes.”
Academics as well as emotional maturity play a big role, too, which has lead to kindergarten classrooms with students who are 4 to 6 years old.
Logue says, “We all want what’s best for our children and we want to optimize their opportunity to do well.”
“We really share with parents that it’s their decision and there is no one answer – that it really is child specific.”
Bangor School Superintendent Betsy Webb says its important to consider what children will be doing in the year they don’t go to school before deciding to wait.
“Do you have a rich experience where learning will be nurtured and they will continue to grow socially and become more confident? If so that’s wonderful, then provide that opportunity.”
Logan agrees, which is why she worked to enroll Brennan in Bangor’s pre-k program this year, sending her to class a couple of hours a day instead of a full day of kindergarten.
The balance gives Brennan plenty of time with her family, especially her brother Noah, an opportunity her mom knows she won’t always have.
“They’re going to spend 13 years in school in different classrooms, in different schools, different things. It’s just another year that they get to grow together and mature together and get to know each other and bond. And same with me. It’s another year I can keep her and play with her and teach her things I think are neat in life.”
Logan says she was also concerned about her daughter starting college early, at age 17 — another reason she and her husband decided to hold off on kindergarten.
Many parents who wait to send their kids to school do so in hopes they’ll be among the best and the brightest.
But the research doesn’t always support that idea, as you’ll find out in Part 2 of Kindergarten Redshirting.