I’m from Texas, and there, redshirting is a term used in football. I had no idea what it meant concerning kindergarten, but I was soon to find out…
My son has a summer birthday. I didn’t plan it that way, of course, that was up to the Gods. In fact, he was born 9.5 weeks early, so he would have been almost an Autumn baby if things had worked out as they were supposed to, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
Anyway, when it came time for kindergarten, my kiddo still seemed young. Not chronologically, necessarily, but he was still carrying around his transitional object, read: lovey. Need I say more?
It’s not that my boy couldn’t go to kindergarten — he’d met all the cut off dates, and he was ready intellectually. It’s that he would probably be learning phonics from underneath a table or while somersaulting, because emotionally it was clear that he wasn’t ready.
Initially my husband wasn’t happy with the idea that he was being “held back”. But, as I told him, and now share with you, I think that’s the wrong way to think about it.
See, my son wasn’t held back, he was given room to move to the front.
We gave my son a gift, which allowed him to have a little more time to mature and, as a consequence, gain self-confidence. As one of the oldest boys in his class, he became a leader at his preschool; a child the other kids looked up to. He was the cool, older guy. Ya know, the one who’d moved past Star Wars and graduated to Harry Potter. That’s serious stuff at a preschool. It was truly wonderful to watch!
When kindergarten time came, my son was six and he was ready. My boy felt good about himself and I knew I didn’t have to worry. Juxtaposed to how unsure I was of his ability the year before, it was such a relief!
And, it goes without saying, my husband thinks it’s one of the greatest ideas he ever came up with (whose idea was it?), and both of us think it was one of the best decisions we ever made.
In the end I gave my son a better head on his shoulders as he starts his journey through school and into adulthood, and who can argue that isn’t a good thing?