The Sunday Morning News has an interesting article about the growing phenomenon of "redshirting kindergartners" — holding back kids a year to allow them to be older and bigger and better-able to withstand the supposedly growing rigors of kindergarten. (I suppose the perceived additional benefit of starting with a leg up on all of the other kindergartners appeals to today’s hyper-competitive parents, too.)

The concept is pretty simple and reminiscent of delaying a college freshmen’s sports eligibility for a year (called "redshirting") to allow the student/athlete to grow bigger and stronger and, hopefully, play better. All of the data I had seen up until now indicated that initial advanced academic status for the older kids (compared with other, non-redshirted students) during the first couple of years of school but an equaling-out of the test scores after a few years. This article highlights some statistical evidence that shows a 2 to 9 percentile advantage for the redshirted students even in the eighth grade, indicating that the plan might actually work to parents’ and students’ advantages.

The story notes that kindergartners from middle- to high-income families are "redshirted" at a rate three to four times the national average, presumably because better educated (and perhaps more financially independent) parents are thinking ahead and can afford to hang onto their kids at home for an extra year, which of course raises the whole "fairness" issue, too.

From personal observation, it’s happening more often in our neighborhood. And again, from personal observation, holding back a kid for a year seems to make a difference in their performance (we didn’t hold ours back, though.) As to whether it’s a good thing or not. …

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