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Red-Shirting Kids For Kindergarten – To Hold Back Or Not To Hold Back

Since I’ve enrolled my own kids in school, I’ve noticed parents being concerned about their kids’ ages as they got ready for kindergarten.  Would they be ready when school started?  Would they be one of the smallest kids in their class?  Perhaps another question is this – how much does their kindergarten age really matter?

Parents Want Kids To Have Social And Competitive Edge

I was one of the very youngest kids in my grade level.  I was seventeen for the first couple weeks of college.  This was also the case for my husband. Back in the 70’s and 80’s this was pretty common.  Now, parents want to be sure their kids have a competitive edge and are old enough to handle the social aspects of school.

There’s nothing wrong with parents wanting these things for their kids.  But will red-shirting really make a significant difference?  That’s debatable.  According to Darren Lubotsky from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, red-shirted kids only had a slight academic advantage as they progressed through school.  Also, added costs of an extra year of preschool or day care can put extra financial strain on a family.

Concerned Parents Can Seek Professional Advice

Parents who are concerned about their child’s readiness can get input from a professional.  Or, they can allow their child to start school with the option to return to preschool or day care for another year if things don’t go well.  If your child has good social skills, they can probably make up for their knowledge well enough over time.  Talk to the teachers in your school district to learn their opinion on kindergarten readiness.

There’s no cut-and-dry answer to this situation.  I felt like I did well enough in school even though I was enrolled at a young age.  However, academic and social expectations are higher now than they were in the mid 1970’s.

Getting Your Opinion On Red-Shirting For Kindergarten

What has your experience been with starting school?  Were you started early or did you have issues starting your own kids?  What is your opinion of families holding their kids back more now?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Paul Nicholson

Red-Shirting Kids For Kindergarten – To Hold Back Or Not To Hold Back

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2010). Red-Shirting Kids For Kindergarten – To Hold Back Or Not To Hold Back. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Sep 2010
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