Thursday, March 17, 2011

Redshirting kindergartners...WTF?

I've been giving a lot of thought to where Andra will go to school for kindergarten, and when. Connecticut's cut off date is January 1, so she could go when she's 4 and 9 months, two falls from now. I teach in a rich, white, snobby district with great academics, and as a teacher, I could bring her to that district for free...there are a number of teachers who do. I live in a poorer, minority, failing-school labeled neighborhood. To my great surprise, we decided (though it took a lot of gong back and forth) to stick with our neighborhood school. (A recent party where we met a bunch of neighbors with kids around the same age, plus some who are older and in the school, totally confirmed our feelings on this. We can make up any holes in her education...we can't make up for the utter lack of cultural diversity and general reality that the other town lacks.) Then there's the issue of when...send her when she's eligible, or "red-shirt" her. Red-shirting is incredibly common in the the rich town where I teach. I've also been spending time (too much) reading blog posts and message boards about this. The basic idea is that everyone wants to give their kid an edge. But I just don't see that logic. All the time in the world isn't going to make a dumb kid smart, for one. And regardless, who the hell is your kindergartner competing against?? Sure, they will then say, oh, it's not kindergarten, it's so that when they take the SAT's they're a year older, and when they are in high school they are a year older...well, see my first point about intelligence. Do these people not realize that there are a LOT of stupid adults out there?? Age doesn't make you smarter. Then there's the fact that I teach high school. I don't care what anyone says, those kids aren't competing against each other. If they think they are, or their parents do, so be it, but the bottom line is, everyone is there to do the best they can for themselves, and no grade another student earns can detract from that.

That said, I am totally stressing that Andra won't be potty trained at school be September. That is one thing that time CAN help.


Wren said...

Hi Clare...
I think you're being wise. I turned five about a month after I started Kindergarten and did okay in school until my family moved to a new town and I started fourth grade. I had a really rough time; my teacher felt I was immature for my age. So, they held me back.
I didn't have much more trouble with school after that, though I was never a stellar student in anything but English and Art. What DID cause me trouble was the fact that my second time around in fourth grade, I was nearly a year older than my classmates. And I had to watch my own class, the kids who hadn't been held back (we called it "flunking" back in the early 60s) move ahead of me all the way through high school.
I turned out just fine, but flunking and being older than most of the kids in my class definitely had a negative effect on my self-esteem and confidence.

I know things are different now, and if so many kids are being kept out of Kindergarten until they're older, perhaps there isn't the same stigma attached. But I think it's best if the child is allowed to go to school at the same age as her peers. And if she has trouble in school, DON'T flunk her. Get her tutoring, whatever... but don't hold her back. It hurts.

Mnowac said...

Wow I have never heard of it as red shirting, I just thought the appeal of waiting to start your kid was that they were more mature. Potty training definitely has to happen though. We have started on that a bit, but H isn’t quite ready. We will be moving sometime this year to another neighborhood and I guess we’ll start Harper in a pre-school as opposed to another daycare since she will be over 2. I guess.

And good for you for sticking with your neighborhood. My hubs and I disagree about that a lot, he insists the school in our neighborhood are horrible, but I insist it doesn't matter, its all what you make of it. there was only 1 school where I was grew up and i turned out just fine.

Nitsirk said...

I started kindergarten when I was 4and didn't turn 5 until Dec. I got an Ivy League degree and a PhD. I would argue being younger had no bearing on my success. I think if your child is not emotionally ready that's one thing but otherwise why not? I also commend you on your choice of diversity. Our town is pathetically homogenous. We have already decided that we will need to do a lot of trips to Boston to keep Jack's mind open and teach him that there is more to the world than our little Maine town.

N.D. said...

WTF is right! I agree with your decision of where she is going to go. I think you can potty train by preschool :)

Angela and David said...

I haven't been doing any research on it at all or really even thought about it much but given when's Zach's birthday is (September 19th) I always figured we'd wait so he was one of the oldest in his class. The logic being that boys are slow social developers and I don't want him being the youngest. But the little guy seems to be developing crazy quickly so I guess we'll just see when the time comes.