Redshirting Your Kindergartener


red shirting kindergartenThe decision to go forward with redshirting our kindergartener has not been an easy one to make. My son is bright, loves stories and books, and is articulate to a fault. He’s also impulsive, has problems with his “listening ears,” and has a summer birthday. From the day my son, Lucan, turned two I have been pondering the finer points of whether or not to redshirt him (Katie did an awesome post about their decision to redshirt). The academic standards for what a five-year-old is expected to achieve are so much higher than when I was five. The curriculum our kiddos do in preschool is the curriculum we did as kindergartners, and so on and so on.

If you aren’t familiar with the term “redshirting,” it’s the idea of holding a child who is technically eligible to attend full-day kindergarten back a year. While Lucan does turn five this summer, he is one of the youngest in his four-year-old preschool class. We will send Lucan to full-day kindergarten next year when he is six. Because our school district offers a robust half-day transitional kindergarten program, we are choosing to redshirt our son.

Reasons to Redshirt

No, it has nothing to do with giving him an athletic edge over his peers (although my husband is trying to turn Lucan into an ambidextrous baseball player because it will make him harder to hit off of as a pitcher and more valuable as a switch-hitter). No, we don’t think that Lucan isn’t “smart enough” to make it through a traditional kindergarten program. We simply feel that emotionally and behaviorally, Lucan would benefit from an extra year before being thrown into full-time education.

I’m completely and undeniably grateful that my work-life schedule allows me to take Lucan to school every morning and pick him up at 11 a.m. because that is not the reality for many working parents. Yes, I would selfishly love the extra time during the day when Lucan would be busy at school. But me being selfish isn’t a viable reason. In my heart of hearts, I know this is the best choice for Lucan and for our family. My mother-in-law, a former educator, and many of my other teacher friends have always told me that I will never regret holding a child back a year but I could definitely regret sending a child when he isn’t ready.

Did you consider redshirting your kindergartener?

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Kara originally hails from northwest Iowa where she met her husband, Lance, through a 4-H fashion show. After a decade of living in central Iowa, Kara is still figuring out which way is north. Wearing the hat of “wife, mommy, employee, chef, ribbon tie-er and family calendar organizer,” Kara knows a bit about juggling life and work. Kara became a boy-mom in June of 2011 to Lucan and a girl-mom to Gracelyn in December of 2014. Most days you can find her mixing up metaphors and oversharing life’s moments via social media. Kara enjoys yoga, reading, gardening, cooking, sewing in straight lines and singing along to musicals. A spender by nature, but thrifty by necessity, Kara is always in hunt of a bargain. She’s an active member of Northpoint Church and a resident of Grimes. Her vision for life includes “doing the best we can with what God gives us.”


    • Becky – right! You really just have to do what’s right for your kiddo! I think that the combination of summer birthday and being a BOY, really puts Lucan right in line for being a great candidate for optional-kindergarten!

  1. I “redshirted” my son. He turned 6 on April 30 and will start Kindergarten this fall. I think the extra year really helped him to become more confident. Plus boys are crazy and in the last year I Have noticed he is much calmer.

    • Crystal – if a byproduct of sending Lucan to optional-kindergarten is that he’s calmer, I will be a happy woman and mom. His energy is no joke!! Thanks for weighing in and sharing your experience. I always feel like I have to defend my decision and tell people that Lucan is still a smart kid!

  2. Thanks for sharing! You’re so fortunate your district offers a half day transitional program! Our district offers transitional kindergarten, but it is all day every day and that just feels like to much for our son. He is in 4 year old preschool now but will not be 5 until September 6. Or school also determines eligibility for transitional kindergarten aND a limited number of spots. Our son was actually determined to be ready for kindergarten and not admitted to transitional kindergarten. We are in a small community so there are no private or church preschools to consider for him. We still do not plan to send him to kindergarten this fall, so we’re looking into some curriculum to use at home so he doesn’t lose any progress he has made, as well as try to intentional about story times, or other social opportunities. Such a hard decision!

    • Wow – it sounds like your optional-kindergarten program sounds a lot like regular kindergarten. How do they make them different?

      • Not really sure. It’s supposed to be more developmentally appropriate than kindergarten, meaning not quite as intense and with a more purposeful rest time. It still feels like a lot though!

        • That makes sense. I know that our program does much of the same curriculum as full-day kindergarten, it’s just all about the “pacing” of things.

  3. Hey Kara! We are also “redshirting” our oldest, Naomi! She’ll be 6 in August and although we did a modified “Kindergarten” at home this year, we won’t be getting into the more formal stuff until the fall. Thanks for the post! Hope you and your family are well!

  4. I am a teacher of 26 years. I commend you to make the decision that is right for your son! I have taught 2nd, 3rd, & 4th so far during my years. And the younger students especially boys often have more troubles behaviorally & emotionally still in my grade when sent so young . As someone else stated, I have never had a parent regret waiting to send but many who regretted sending their child so young.

  5. We are doing this with our now kindergartener. She won’t turn 6 until after school starts. She did, however, sneak by this last year as a 4 year old to attend kindergarten because her birthday is 2 days before the cut off. She was bored in preschool last year but did ok this past year. I know in my heart that she is not ready to do the things that our oldest is doing this year in first grade.

    Our biggest hang ups were social hurdles and looking into the future. We’ve discussed it with all of her teachers and principal and they are on board. Her school has 4 different kindergarten teachers so she will join a “new” teachers class in the fall. She did hit all the goals that the district requires but only by a hair in a few areas. I know that another year will be perfect. Then she will actually be attending with her peers instead of children a whole year ahead.

    We also thought about college (I know its way down the road) but we found out that some colleges won’t allow minors on campus unless emancipated from their parents since the parents are too far away to make emergency decisions. Along with that, our own principal told us his daughter was in a similar boat and he wishes he would have held her back. He said that she didn’t seem to get over the hump of being behind until January of each school year until she was a sophomore in COLLEGE. I don’t want our daughter to struggle each year because she isn’t mature enough for 1st grade.


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