Redshirting Preschoolers and Kindergarteners

Last week I posted the following question on Facebook and was surprised to get 17 responses from friends:

So, has anyone on here “redshirted” their kindergarten boy so that he’ll have an athletic advantage when he’s in high school? I heard of this for the first time today…

I’d never heard of this before.    But someone I met last week made the comment that he is redshirting his child now, putting him into preschool at age 5,  so that the child will be able to play sports in high school.    The child is apparently small for his age.    I knew what redshirting meant when it came to college sports, but had never heard of this phenomena starting at preschool or kindergarten.  So of course, I Googled it, and was amazed by the results.   Especially for boys born in summer months, this is apparently quite common, for either social, academic, or less commonly, athletic reasons.  

You can Google for articles and posts yourself, but here’s one I loved:

Also, I enjoyed the Facebook conversation among friends and thought I’d share it here:

My Comment:  So, has anyone on here “redshirted” their kindergarten boy so that he’ll have an athletic advantage when he’s in high school? I heard of this for the first time today…

Friend 1: I’m almost afraid to ask….redshirted?

Me: Redshirted, as in, started their kid in preschool or kindergarten a year later than what would be typical, so that your kid would be the oldest in the class rather than one of the youngest. For the purpose of creating an athletic advantage later in life, not related to any developmental delays or reasons.

Me: And if you Google “redshirting kindergarten” there are tons of articles about it, though most relate more to an academic advantage or the current “pressures of kindergarten”

Me: BTW, the hubby and I were both two of the youngest kids in our classes, and I can honestly say I never had an issue with this.

Friend 1: LOL Are you kidding me???? See, this is why I’m not a good PSO mother. “Pressures of kindergarten”? That does sound like BBH school system. Beware Lorelei! You’ve been warned. 🙂

Me: Nope, wasn’t a BBH parent at all. And “pressures of kindergarten” comes from several of the articles I am reading/laughing at online. Actually, I know one kid in the BBH school system (a neighbor) who started kindergarten at 4, so I don’t know how much redshirting is an issue there. Your girl goes to BBH now, right? Is she happy?

What is a PSO mother? 🙂

Friend 1: Actually, so far the school system is great. She loves it – Chippewa Rocks apparently. PSO is the new, trendy way of saying PTA (Parent Student Organization).

Friend 2: i’d never redshirt my own kid!

Me: Oh thank goodness, I would have really embarrassed myself calling it the PTA! 😛

Me: OMG Friend 2, I am laughing my arse off. That did NOT come up when I Googled redshirt and kindergarten!

Friend 2: As soon as I see redshirt I think dead star trek guy. 😛

Friend 3: I know someone from Texas and she said everyone does it where she lived…that’s the first time I had heard of it. Alex’s birthday is 9-9 so he will be one of the oldest, but if he takes after his parents he will have no athletic advantage no matter when he starts school :).

Friend 4: Its very common now a days especially with boys. But you have to do what you feel is right. Not only with athletics but are they socially and academically ready. hope this helps

Me: I read an article about it being big in Texas. Fortunately, I’m not concerned about our son academically or socially being ready. And son #2 will be born early enough in the year that it shouldn’t be an issue. As far as athletics goes, I just personally wouldn’t hold my kid back for that issue by itself.

Friend 5: Yes. I have heard of this. (I was the youngest in my class & at the top…went to K when I was 4). But I know Waldorf supports having classes of older children to give them time to develop academically and socially. Most kids get one or the other down, and then struggle with the other the rest of their school years. There are many, many studies on this. It is fascinating. I would consider it for my children. I know PLENTY of children who would benefit from this. In any case, individual consideration of a child and reflection on his/her strengths & weaknesses is to be commended! No need to cookie cutter anyone. 🙂 You’re a good mom, Lorelei!

Friend 6: With a June birthday and a short boy, I definitely would have done it (kids are brutal and I was ALWAYS the youngest kid in my class and it was hard) if we were putting him in school… but we’re homeschooling so we started him early instead because he was ready for the challenge. 🙂

Me: @Friend 5: And all this time I thought I was socially awkward as a child because I was a fat nerd girl with crooked teeth! 😉 Guess I should have waited to start kindergarten til I was 14. Like I said, for developmental reasons I’m not opposed, but for the purpose of redshirting a kid for high school athletics it might be taking it a little too far.

Anyhow, the hubby and I weren’t big into athletics growing up, so maybe that’s why I just don’t get it.   I think athletics are great for promoting self-esteem, discipline and good health.   And in some cases (Michael Phelps and LeBron James come to mind) some people are clearly born to be amazing athletes.  And yes, I certainly know that kids are brutal.    Like I said, I was a fat nerd with crooked teeth (and I dreaded gym class for my lack of physical ability).   If I was held back for the purpose of saving me from the brutality of other children, I wouldn’t have started kindergarten until I was 14 years old and past my 10-year long ugly duckling phase.  But, developmentally, despite having been born in late August, and the hubby in mid-October, we both would have been bored out of our minds had we been held back.   As it was, we were bored quite often.  I say this not to judge, but to share my own personal experience.   And my kid has yet to be of public school/kindergarten age, so my opinion may even change one day.

So there you have it.    It sounds like this is a topic of which most people with children or who work with children have an opinion, and I’d love to hear it!

Until next time,



4 Responses

  1. Red shirt = Star Trek guy – hahaha!

    I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers.” The first section is all about having an advantage in school/sports based on the kid’s age. Our third child has a late November birthday in a school system with a 12/1 cutoff. She had an extra year of preschool instead of starting elementary school “on time.” Definitely glad we did this!

    Hubby was concerned at the time because she’s very bright, but it was never a problem and the extra time to mature really helped. Good luck.

    • Good book, I actually have read it and know what chapter you are referencing when it comes to an advantage in sports based on a kid’s age. I believe it’s in reference to hockey as far as the book is concerned. I really think it depends on each individual’s situation. Our son will attend two years of preschool, but he started at 3. Academically I don’t think he’ll have any issues, and we’re hoping socially/developmentally he’ll otherwise be fine to start kindergarten at 5, since his birthday is mid-August. Since we do not anticipate our children being professional athletes, we personally wouldn’t redshirt ours for that reason.

      Sounds like you were in tune with your daughter’s needs. I don’t understand why the cut-off isn’t the same across the country. Seems like it would make some of these decisions easier for all of us in the long run.

  2. Actually, in the book (Outliers) – it talks about more than just hockey in terms of age/birthdays. Many schools (like ours) separate kids in Kindergarten for state-mandated ‘gifted’ programs and other programs that offer some really interesting and more in-depth experiences. Two children of equal intellect can take test to get in – but because one has more maturity/experience because he’s 11 months older than his peer- he often gets into such program and child #2 (younger) may not. This creates (according to author) sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy and often continues through grade school.
    Our son is very smart – but I see a huge difference in his fine motor skills, social skills and physical/sport skills since the start of this preschool year and now. He is where some of his fall birthday peers were at the beginning of the year last fall.
    That is why we are strongly considering ‘red-shirting’ him and doing one more year of preschool/Pre-K. I think as long as you have Pre-K teachers who work with individual skills, you work with them at home and enroll them in a variety of activities – there’s little room for ‘boredom’ and can only help a child’s confidence going in to K being on the ‘stronger’ end versus weaker.

    • Thanks Nancy! I read Outliers about a year and a half ago, so the only example I really remembered was hockey. And since I had sports on my mind in regards to the redshirting, that may be part of the reason why.

      It’s nice to hear from a parent who is going through this, and hearing your observations regarding his skills compared to the older kids in his class at preschool, despite his being very smart. We plan on our son beginning kindergarten the week after he turns 5 rather than redshirting him, he is already enrolled at a Montessori where he began preschool at age 3 and will remain in the same classroom through Kindergarten, then begin 1st grade at public school. But I do hope that I don’t eat my words when it comes time for him to enter 1st grade. I don’t think that I will, but that’s 2 1/2 years away, so who knows!

      Out of curiousity, what does your son’s preschool/pre-K teacher have to say? What is the opinion?

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