Thoughts on Redshirting

Over the summer, at a birthday party and talking with other moms, I realized a couple were not going onto Pre-K but doing the pre-pre-k again.  The whole leader not a follower thing got to me.  I was also sad because I’d miss those moms, and their children!  It got in my head though.  I emailed the teacher.  Should he stay behind another year?  They had a conference with a few teachers and the principal, and said he should go on to Pre-K.  But “it was great I was open to it”.

Yesterday was our first (real) parent teacher conference. We had them before with tuck when he was younger, but I’d always do something fun with the boys and let JB go to them. Because he was just in their pre-pre K program, and like they had said, you would already know if your child was having trouble. Yesterday I went alone because JB had a meeting during that time. It was amazing seeing how much he has progressed in just a short amount of time. He went from holding the crayon with some crazy death grip to near perfect. Throughout the summer we would do a page of this every day, but I’m not some early childhood development wiz.  In my mind, my job is to discipline and make memories with them right now.  It may sound crazy, but I didn’t even go to preschool.   Due to my dad playing baseball, my mother having a bachelor in early childhood development, and traveling – I just didn’t have that.  I also much preferred being with my mom and baby sister.  I didn’t feel like I struggled in school either, and I went onto get my masters (even though it currently collects dust).  But the demands for children are different these days.  Or rather, I too easily let them be different by going with the tide of a challenging school.  Anyway, it was really incredible to see how much he has improved, how much he is learning and enjoying school.  I’m one of only two parents who picks up their kid from Pre-K at noon.  I had a ton of guilt about that, and so off I went enrolling him in too many extracurriculars.  But he is FOUR.  And I am crazy.  His main trouble is stamina.  At noon, he is done.  He still naps at least twice a week.  And he goes to bed at 7.  And so I broached the question for the teacher about possibly repeating Pre-K.  She ultimately said it would be up to me.  But that it’s something he may be able to benefit from.  This is all so personal, and I struggle to write it here… but I feel so lucky to reach out to all of you who may have been through these trenches before.  For me, selfishly, I get my son another year at home.  The boys will just be one year a part in school and I think that could be very special.  And it gives him an extra year to mature and develop.  He is a social butterfly, and tries to connect and encourage anyone.  So the other aspect is his little heart.  He is ridiculously kind.  The teacher said after every show and tell he will raise his hand and say  “great job!  I love you____”.  His heart is so very tender.  He will literally give you anything he has in a heartbeat.  I asked my aunt, who was a principal of a very competitive uptown new orleans school, her take on it…. and I loved what she said.


Just remember you want esp your boys to be oldest because emotionally, socially, physically and intellectually- you want them strong & well developed  to excel. They will be competing in all areas their whole life! With many of the ones in their class. I️ made a lot of these recommendations to parents.
Plus you have the added benefit of having he and Wes closer and in same schools, teams, etc together.
It’s all in the rate of development. Some mature early, BUT that does not mean they are smartest. A child that starts with later development may overtake in everything by 3rd grade usually. Someone couldn’t cut w scissors forever. Fine motor, which is physical dev , got perfect in 2nd gd- just a common example. Reading is so variable too. First reader at 3, may not be as good as later reader in 2nd grade (comprehension, etc) Look at each of 4 kinds of developments and rate your own kiddo and if it looks developed, send him on. If not, give him the gift of time! It’s just time- time for all the kinds of development to take place.
Also- ask about yours and JB’s development. There is a hereditary component.
At pk & k they are not harmed by holding.
Just a gift!
Call me tonight if you want to have a conversation. I’ll be home 6 your time. Call me anytime after that.
I️ can give you many examples and answer questions.
Look up The Gisell Institute of Child Development. They’ll give you developmental guide lines on every age. The books are old but you can get them I’m sure- “ Your 3 Year Old” (example), by age or whole book. Good guide.
My whole theory is you set them up in every way to be Happy first! Self Confidence and self- esteem are Key!

I’ve seen a lot of really bright kids not be especially successful socially because they can’t connect on same level as the more mature or developed child. Also emotional immaturity will result in social issues w other kids too.

Each child truly is unique even down to the last cell!!!!
Most people think all the different kinds of development are together, at same rate.
No, all separate and it’s usually up and down not even!
It’s what makes everybody different.

Very wise food for thought.  We still have time to think about it all.  But I know many of you are right there with me, and may have some sage advice.  or maybe this helped you in some way?!   Or did you or your husband hold back, what did you or he think about it?  I’m off to check out the books she mentioned!

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  • Reply Denise Lopatka

    Oh sweet friend! We are in the same boat. With both of ours eventually but right now with Georgia. She is in PreK now but ultimately she will do a private kindergarten next year and then repeat kindergarten when she starts “real school” the year after that. It is so hard because everyone has an opinion and they all seem to be different. Our pediatrician, who I absolutely love, is strongly encouraging that we send her on to kindergarten next year but something in my mama gut just doesn’t feel like that the right fit. And I hate going against people I respect! But for Matt and I it was more about the big picture. One more year with Georgia under our roof before college. When Matt said that to me, it just clicked. I’ve prayed about it a ton and obviously we still have time to decide as well but I think the gift of time, right now, but also in the long run with you at home before college is a gift. And selfishly that gift is not just for them but for us as mamas. All of that said what I have also learned is that there is no wrong choice. God hand picked you and JB to be parents to those sweet boys and that was no accident. Go with your gut and forget all of the rest. Whatever that means, that’s the right decision ❤️

    November 9, 2017 at 11:19 am
  • Reply Alice

    I’m training to be a teacher in the UK and honestly I think it’s better for children to start school later. We are pushing children harder and harder and at a cost, emotional health and wellbeing?! Just look at Scandinavia children start school later and have an all round better education journey they most of us.

    November 9, 2017 at 1:24 pm
  • Reply Nicole

    I am SO glad you shared this Sarah!! My oldest is 3.5 and this has been on my radar as we approach Pre-K. He was in a pre-school/ day car program until he was just about 3 and then I had my second and decided it was time to stay home. I’ve worried that doing this is delaying his progress, but I also believe time with Mom is one of the best gifts I can give my children. One of my dearest friends is a pshycologist and has two girls. She decided to hold them back (both!) and have her oldest repeat Pre-K. She has told me that the evidence, especially for boys, is in favor of starting kindergarten at 6. My husband got held back in the 6th grade and it was horrible for him. I never want my babies to go through that. I love the advice that your aunt shared. Ultimately, we all have to decide based on our own children. It’s so different now. It’s not even “holding them back” it’s just giving them the gift of time like you’re aunt said. Thanks for sharing. I’m sure this is on many other hearts out there. 💙

    November 9, 2017 at 1:44 pm
  • Reply Christy

    Held both of my older boys back in pre-k & was very happy about it. However, did not with my youngest, & we are now rethinking it. He’s in 4th & struggling. Good luck!

    November 9, 2017 at 2:34 pm
  • Reply Megan

    This is such an interesting topic and I can’t wait to see how other moms chime in. I never attended pre-school and was at the top of my class from elementary school through college. Although my son is only two I have zero desire to enroll him in a full time pre-k program (or any program at all but I can see the benefit for some children). Then I also feel guilt because I wonder if I’m just being selfish and withholding an opportunity from him. These years are so so precious, I want to cherish all the time I have for as long as I have. I’m all about “mom school” until kindergarten. And Tuck, bless his heart! Learning to be so kind and loving at home, what an accomplishment mom and dad!

    November 9, 2017 at 3:39 pm
  • Reply Jessica

    Yes! I agree with so much of this. I don’t know why this society is so in a rush to push our kids through these days. Hurry up and go to school and be a genius. How about let them be kids! Let them be bored. Let them entertain themselves. Have a little bit of time to develop and mature, especially boys! I don’t get it and it’s kind of frustrating. My son’s birthday is four days after the cut off so most of his buds from class will be moving on. I think what I’m going to do is let him move up to pre-k at his current school with them. Then switch to pre-k again at the elementary school that he will be attending. Your aunt is so right on too with being the older ones in class and connecting with others. There’s so much more to excelling in school academically and emotionally with your peers than your date of birth. I’m going to look up the book she referenced as well! 🙂

    November 9, 2017 at 3:48 pm
  • Reply Nikki

    I’ve tossed this around so much as Garrett turned 4 at end of July… He’s by far the youngest in class. For some reason I feel guilty holding him back but I’m sure he wouldn’t know the difference either way! I worry he’ll be bored doing it all over again since he’s doing so well so far. I will say, I’ve never heard a boy mom say they regretted holding their son back, even though we probably won’t. Haha. My SIL did with my nephew (same late July Birthday) but his teacher actually recommended it. You could make that decision towards the end of the school year if needed!I know how stressful school decisions are!

    November 9, 2017 at 4:27 pm
  • Reply Britt | southern mama guide

    Oh sarah, this is such a great topic to discuss and share. We have gone back and forth with Scarlett so much and are still clueless. I’m glad we have some time before next summer to make the right call bc I’m so torn right now. Academically I think she will be fine, but I worry she will not be mature enough. She has such a sweet little soul and is sensitive. We are considering a private kindergarten half day experience if we feel she isn’t ready. Either way, i think keeping some sort of school program in their routine is good until they are ready for big school.
    Hugs this topic is so so hard for us too!

    November 9, 2017 at 4:45 pm
  • Reply Barbara

    As a former high school teacher I urge parents to consider the flip side of redshirting for school. Seniors that are turning 19 are often “so over” school and are hungry for independence. That often led to difficult seniors years for many of my redshirted seniors.

    I held a late August birthday and sent a late July birthday so I understand the struggle to decide. That’s why I urge friends to not only consider the beginning of school but the end also.

    November 9, 2017 at 5:34 pm
  • Reply Laura

    My son just started Kindergarten. He is 5 and struggles with fine motor (common with boys). He actually has a very young class. In CT the cut off is Jan 1st so he actually has a lot of 4 year olds in his Kindergarten class. He is DOING GREAT. So are his 4 year old peers. They have fun in school, field trips and a lot of special activities. The transition from a play based pre school to an academic Kindergarten honestly has been seemless. Take lots of tours and talk to current parents. Also remember they grow up a LOT over the summer. The workload and full day honestly has NOT been a challenge for my “resistant to do work” little guy. By sending him to Kindergarten I don’t feel that he is lacking the gift of time. I sincerely feel like I gave him the gift of going to a great school with high standards and he is meeting them. There is also a lot of research that supports sending them on time – sounds like you have a super sweet boy!

    November 9, 2017 at 5:41 pm
  • Reply Meghan

    I keep thinking similar to Barbara! My Nolan will be “19” in the March of his graduating year if we choose to redshirt him – I go around with the idea that a 19 year old is in school with 14 year olds. What do they have in common? Being that Nolan is a March birthday, he’ll be almost 5.5 by the time we meet the K cut off here in Pittsburgh. The hardest part is it feels like trying to read the tea leaves to decide whether he’ll do better going on time or “getting” an extra year!! We’re 2 years away and the decision only seems to be getting more difficult to make!! Great post!! Really honest and relatable!

    November 9, 2017 at 6:07 pm
  • Reply Brittany

    I seem to be in the minority on this! My daughter has an Aug 28 birthday, and the cut off for our district is Sept 30. While she is clearly within those parameters, we of course have been discussing red-shirting her. She is incredibly sweet/sensitive… but she is also EXTREMELY tall, smart, and thoughtful. I feel like I may be over estimating her sweetness and sensitivity because I am her mama, so we plan to send her. I am confident with the guidelines of our district. I also know a lot of people with children who will be in her class, and I know she can “compete” with those kiddos. What throws a wrench is my confidence is the OTHER parents who may red shirt. I don’t think its fair my daughter may end up in class with children over a year older than her, in some cases almost two years older, because their parents didn’t follow the rules. Obviously there are exceptions and legitimate reasons to hold some children back, but if it is just to give them an advantage over others, I don’t think it’s fair. I think it even could potentially be setting them up for failure down the road. I also agree with the point that by senior year these children will be 19 in school with 14 year olds. That is an incredible difference.

    November 9, 2017 at 9:00 pm
  • Reply brittany

    suuuuch a big topic these days!!! it is not like it used to be. my dad has a july birthday and was a baby for his grade, graduated at 17, plus he was a guy… so he was juuuust fine! but these days?! there’s just no way i could do that to maddalena. she would’ve totally been smart enough, but they’ll come out smart either way. i’d rather keep her with me longer!

    November 9, 2017 at 11:29 pm
  • Reply Lauren

    I️ have taught pre-K for years. I️ have a bachelors in early childhood development. I️ feel like this decision is best when considering the individual child. You know your children best. Many years ago I️ taught my nephew. He was extremely smart, kind, silly, just a wonderful well rounded little boy. He has a late August birthday which meant he would be the youngest in his class. His parents decided to hold him back and start K a year later, they did not think he was emotionally ready. Academically he was, but not emotionally. They were right. He’s now 13 (how?!) And he’s exceptional. He’s bright, focused, a leader (but he would be a leader in any age group- it’s his personality), funny, and unbelievably compassionate. Based on his emotional intelligence at 13, holding him back at 4 was the best decision for him. Each child is different, and I think in these instances, parents know best. Now as a Mom myself, I️ would 100% redshirt my child for one very selfish reason. That’s one more year Home with me. One more year with me before they head off to college. I️ know that’s selfish, but 17 years is not enough.

    November 10, 2017 at 12:32 am
  • Reply Elena

    We chose to hold our late August son and made that choice pretty early on. The only thing we didn’t realize was every district has different birthday requirements. Since we are moving to a new city next year, we will need to do private K, otherwise the public schools would make us skip kindergarten. Our intention was to give him an extra year to play and also an additional year at home when he’s older so just skipping K wouldn’t make sense for us.

    November 13, 2017 at 10:50 am
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