The Pros and Cons of Holding Your Child Back Another Year


The debate as to whether or not to hold your child back a year in school is not a new one. Parents have been having this discussion amongst themselves, with educators and with their spouses for many years. The question is a simple one no matter what the age of your child; do you hold him back a year or let him go on to the next grade? This is most commonly asked in kindergarten. It’s not uncommon for many parents to feel that their children are a bit too immature for school because their birthdays fall so close to the deadline that their little ones are turning 5 just as school is starting and joining kids who are much older. These kids – particularly boys if you ask most parents and teachers – can be a little immature. We can’t tell you whether or not your child is ready to begin school or needs another year to mature; only you can do that. However, we can give you the pros and cons of keeping a child back based on his or her age.

Pros of “Redshirting” Your Kids

Holding your kids back a year when their birthdays fall in the summer just before school starts does have a few pros. One of the biggest pros is associated with maturity. A 6-year-old is markedly more mature than a child who just turned 5. It might not seem like a year makes that much of a difference, but the difference can prove significant. Older kids are often less likely to cry when left at school. They look forward more to school and they are more likely to pay attention and stay out of trouble. That’s one of the other pros of redshirting. Your child is more likely to behave more appropriately and less likely to be influenced by the behavior of others if he or she is a bit older. This level of maturity can be significant when it comes to holding your kids back a year.

Additionally, an additional year at home or in VPK gives you the opportunity to allow your child to learn a bit more before going to kindergarten. This can be a good thing for a child who might struggle a bit learning because of maturity or just because of age. However, this can also backfire on you later in life if your child is one that is exceptionally bright, so it shouldn’t be the sole purpose of your decision to keep your child back a year.

One of the biggest pros of redshirting is the development of fine motor skills. The extra year might mean that a young 5 will have more time to learn how to hold a pen or pencil, how to color correctly and how to focus more. This is a big benefit for many kids, and it can help them learn better from the start. Delaying your child could give him or her the confidence he or she needs to succeed in school by giving them more time to develop the skills needed in the classroom. After all, kids are now doing work that was once associated with older grades in the kindergarten classroom, and that means that your child needs to be prepared for this kind of academic challenge; which is where redshirting can be a pro.

Cons of “Redshirting” Your Kids

When a child is held back a year, he or she might have some issues later in their educational career. One of the biggest complaints that many parents and teachers have is that kids held back a year are significantly more advanced when they finally do start school and this can lead to problems in the classroom. A child who is already reading and writing thanks to that extra year might find that engaging in this type of learning is boring and not challenging enough. Parents think to ask teachers to provide their own child with a more advanced curriculum, but that’s not always a possibility.

According to the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, children who are delayed starting school are actually more likely to require special educational needs programs when they get to school. The studies performed by this group prove that children who are redshirted tend to have more special needs than kids who go to school when they are slated to go to school. This does not, by any means, mean your child is going to need special help because he or she was delayed a year, but it is a distinct possibility.

Another con associated with redshirting is that it could cause problems for kindergarten teachers. Depending on where you live and the rules governing age and the start of school, you could potentially see that a child is in a classroom with children who are 6 as well as children who are 4. While this might not seem like such a big deal now, it’s a huge deal as far as maturity and readiness, and it can have a big impact on the teacher’s ability to teach her students with such a wide ranges of maturity levels and needs.

One of the biggest cons of redshirting is that it can often result in the delayed realization of learning disorders. We are not saying your child will have difficulty learning or suffer from any learning disorders, but if he or she does suffer from this, it will take years longer to realize it, and by then the damage to your child’s self-esteem could be done. What does this mean? If you start a child in kindergarten at the correct age, teachers will notice quickly whether or not your child is developing and learning at his or her level. If you wait a year, your child might seem right on track in the classroom and it could take a year or more to realize your child is actually learning at a level behind his or her age. It’s best to find this out sooner rather than later.

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