Thursday, March 06, 2008

Redshirting aka Holding Them Back

You know, considering that I spent the majority of my professional career covering sports, I just assumed redshirting is what college athletes do in their first year, especially if they're injured.

Which just shows you what I know.

It seems that redshirting refers not to 17 or 18-year olds, but to FIVE year olds. It's the term used when you hold your kindergarten-eligible child, usually a boy, back a year.

This, despite research that shows that it makes absolutely no difference academically. Because it's not about no learnin'. Nope, it's about social readiness. Meaning, boys usually mature slower in that area (NO!) and can use an extra year of preschool.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that they'll be a year older than many of their peers and perhaps bigger, stronger and better athletically.

But what's frightening is that my daughter, as a high school freshman, could conceivably date a 20 year-old senior (over my husband's dead body, obviously).

I never realized what a common thing it is to hold your child back. When I started school, in Connecticut, the cutoff date was Dec. 31st. Which is also my birthday. So I started kindergarten when I was 4.

Being held back was for the dumbasses. I remember when a kid in our class got held back in fifth grade. All us big-time sixth graders were riding the bus when we saw him walking to the elementary school. Using our new-found maturity, we opened the windows and shouted "LAKE STREET SUCKS", to which he responded with a raised middle finger.

Good times. And yes, Lake Street was the name of our elementary school.

I graduated from high school at 17 - which is also how old I was when I started college.

Luckily, the fake ID I got turned me 21 a year ahead of my scheduled birthday, so all was not lost.

I am glad I didn't have a choice with Sawyer. He missed the cutoff date by 11 days. What if his birthday fell 11 days before it? There is a lot of pressure out here to hold your child. I have enough angst about where to send him to preschool. Deciding if he was ready for kindergarten (am I rushing him? is he ready? will he hate me later if I send him/don't send him?) would make my head pop off and helicopter around the room.

Today I took him to check out a new preschool. It's a pre-k program run by the local school system and is a quick walk right across the street. It's five days a week, for three hours a day, and costs exactly the same as what we will pay to send Sage two days a week at the preschool where Sawyer is now.

I THOUGHT the most important question I had was what their policy is on peanuts in the classroom. Frankly, that's one of the reasons I want to move Sawyer (aside from the expense). The school he attends now allows peanuts on campus. There aren't supposed to ever be any in his classroom, but there have been three occasions when this was ignored.

I am tired of worrying about it. I'm no longer up for screaming at the director until a third eye pops out of my head.

So while he checked out the room, I interrogated the teacher about their policy. I was elated to find that not only are they nut-free, but she and her two assistants are all trained in the use of an epi pen. In fact, they probably are more qualified to use it than I am.

That lifted a HUGE weight off me. Unless you've ever sent your child off to school every day wondering if he was going to die because of someone's oversight, you can't comprehend what a relief this is.

There was another mother there checking out the school with her daughter, who will turn 5 in November and so would be eligible to go to kindergarten in the fall. But she's holding her back.

The teacher said that kindergarten is much more academically stringent (thanks to the ridiculous No Child Left Behind bullshit). Parents might want their child to have an extra year of play. Because heaven forbid we try to make kindergarten just a tad bit less militant.

The preschool also has its own cutoff date. You have to be 5 by February to attend. Sawyer won't be the youngest nor the oldest in his class. I think he'll do well there. He's #1 on the waiting list (which, incidentally, is 75 pages long. I put the kids on it when Sage turned 9 months). We find out in May.

Sage won't be able to go there. She has a September birthday, so at 5, she should be starting kindergarten. My neighbor has twin boys almost exactly a year older than her (I gave birth to her on my couch while the twins had their first birthday party going on up the street). And she's holding them a year, so they will be in the same grade as Sage.

After listening to the teacher, I'm starting to think. Sage's tall for her age. She's tough. Her speech should be much better by then.

Why wouldn't she be ready?

But could she be MORE ready if she waits another year?

I have two years to think about it.

To hold or not to this moment, I'm letting her go.


Melissa said...

Seriously, I have been worrying and pondering as you have about preschool, Pre-K and Kindergarten lately. I just know that someday we will look back on our worrying and questions and think, "What was the big deal, really?!!" Anyhow, Sawyer's new Pre-K sounds fabulous! And, in case you're wondering, I'm not planning to hold either of my kids back. They'll go to K when they are the appropriate age. :)

Cheryl said...

Move back here so our kids can go to school together! lol

Simply Lovely Gifts said...

We held Jack back - he'll be starting K in the fall - but we're not holding Julia back. Their birthdays are 1 day apart but with him being a boy & the oldest and her being a girl and the youngest of 3, it seems to be a no-brainer (she's exposed to so much more than he was because of him & their middle brother). Might change our minds later, but this is the current plan. So Jack will turn 19 right after he graduates high school if I've done the math correctly. It's almost expected here, not even just common if you can imagine!

Simply Lovely Gifts said...

Had another thought - Jack really NEEDED the extra year - not academcially just like you said, but socially. He would be a basketcase if he had gone this past year but now we really feel like he's ready!

Just J said...

I did not even know there was a term for this, but we are also "redshirting" John. I signed him up for another year of preschool because I don't think he is going to be quite ready for 5 full days of kindy next year.

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