Mike Kueber's Blog

September 25, 2011

Redshirting my kindergarten-aged kid?

Filed under: Culture,Education,Sports — Mike Kueber @ 7:26 pm
Tags: , , ,

Yesterday, there was a column in the NY Times arguing that it was not a good idea delay your kid’s entrance into kindergarten.  This delaying practice is sometimes called redshirting because it is analogous to a practice in college football that allows college kids to mature an addition year before beginning four years of competitive college football.

Although I hadn’t heard of this practice when my four boys entered kindergarten, my youngest son Jimmy tells me that one of his best friends started a year behind Jimmy even though Jimmy was younger.  And according to Jimmy, the delayed start was intended by his friend’s dad, who had been a professional baseball player, to improve his friend’s athletic prospects.  (It worked; his son has received a Division I scholarship.)

You may think this sort of parental behavior is irrational, but that would be wrong.  One of my first blog postings was a review of a classic book titled Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  In Outliers Gladwell described compelling evidence that kids who are grouped with kids a few months younger than themselves are unbelievably more successful in sports.  If a few months make a big difference, imagine how much difference there is when a kid is delayed more than 12 months?

The NY Times column was authored by scientists, but it was obvious that the authors were social advocates, not disinterested scientists.  Also the column focused on the academic advantage to starting kindergarten as soon as possible.  It didn’t study the athletic advantage of starting early, but seemed to concede it.

You may wonder when kids can start kindergarten.  The law varies in every state.  According to one internet website, kindergarten is for 5-year olds, and the cut-off date for turning 5 is usually August 31 or September 1.  The earliest is August 1 (Missouri) and the latest is December 31 (several states).

The cut-off in my home state of Texas is September 1, and my former home state of North Dakota is December 2.  If I had grown up in Texas, I would have started school one year later because my birthday is September 24.

But this information establishes the earliest date to begin kindergarten.  What are the parents’ rights to delay kindergarten?  Again, the laws in each state are different.  In Texas, the mandatory school-attendance law applies to any kid who is six-years old by September 1.  Only seven states require school attendance at age 5, which means that redshirting would be an option in the others.  Twenty-three require it at age 6, while 17 states, including North Dakota, require it at age 7.

So what’s a parent to do?  As my brother Kelly said, most parents have no idea whether their kid is going to be blessed with great athletic ability.  Unless you have huge athletic aspirations for your child, redshirting will receive a “delay of game” penalty.

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: