Have you heard of "red shirting" a kindergartner? Deciding to hold a child back a grade can be a tough choice. Experts say it should be done for academic or social reasons, but some parents are also making that choice for athletic reasons. And let's face it, making any call that impacts your child's future can be a tough one.
So when do you do it? When do you hold your kid back, if at all?
We talked to expert Kate Cassada at the University of Richmond. She's been a teacher and school principal. When you're making a call about kindergarten, she says there are many factors to consider:
"You want to consider social and emotional factors. You want to consider their readiness for literacy, because that is your primary goal in the early elementary grades. Literacy. You want to consider their ability to function in a group and use the behaviors that are appropriate in school."
If you're having trouble making the call as a family, she encourages you to reach out to the school for added support. If your child is in some sort of Pre-K program, Cassada says to start the conversation there.
"You would also want to consider consulting the kindergarten teachers themselves, or the administration," said Cassada. "The principal in the receiving school and say, 'What are the behaviors you need from my child? What are the skills that he or she should have mastered to be successful in your kindergarten?'"
If you need more information, consider school counselors, psychologists, and social workers.
As for holding a child back for sports reasons?
"We don't know at four years old, if our child is going to be a scholarship athlete for a high school or for college," said Cassada. "So, you have 'red shirting,' where you delay. About six percent of children nationally go in late, based on that. There are also ways that parents might want to retain when they're younger, but if its for an athletic focus, that's an entirely different issue. Because there is a social aspect and an academic aspect, and those are the reasons the child is really in school. It's for the academics."
And how do you know if you made the right call? Cassada says you might not. But, it can be fixed if need be. A student can be given extra challenges, if need be.
"The beauty of that is that you have all sorts of supports in schools for children," said Cassada. "So, whether you're a kindergartner or whether you're a 12th grader, there should be prevention and intervention strategies to catch children before they slip through cracks. If they are too challenged where they are, where they have been placed for a grade."