Response to recent conversation

Commenters on the AJC Get Schooled blog had a range of reactions to the increase in kindergarten “redshirting,” in which parents wait a year to enroll their children in school in the hope the kids will benefit from being among the oldest in the class. Here is a sampling of the comments under each poster’s chosen screen name.

ConcernedMom: I have a "redshirt" in my house. In no way was he ready for the demands of first grade when he was 5. And that's the age he would have been starting school. … He's a mid-August birthday. Now a 7-year-old in first grade, he's reading beautifully and finally grasps the more abstract parts of first-grade math but still has a tough time sitting through an entire school day. I shudder to think how he would have managed doing that last year as a 6-year-old.

EastAtlanta: The worst thing a parent can do is to put a developmentally unready child in kindergarten or first grade. Such nonsense has led to a crisis in "ADHD" diagnoses, many of which are merely children not ready for school, not ready to sit still for six or seven hours, and not ready for Dick and Jane. If you start them too early, they may have problems for the balance of their academic careers. What's the hurry? Let them be children.

Mattie: As a kindergarten teacher of over 20 years,    kindergarten is not only the new first grade, but part of second grade, also. Before school starts each year, I look at the birth dates of my incoming class. I expect those with late birthdays to be behind those with fall birthdays. This is not always the case. I have had younger students outshine the older ones.

Ralph: We are now seeing these groomed, pampered, praised and inappropriately protected "little darlings" attempting to enter the corporate world and getting their protected little behinds roughed up. You want mature adults? Let them experience reality and learn to deal with it.

Living: This is not something you decide because of research. This is a personal decision parents make based on the current state of their child. If a child is socially or emotionally underdeveloped compared to their peers, or if other developmental factors are present, then there is nothing wrong with parents holding their children back. I, too, have a "redshirt" in my house, and it was the best decision we could have made for our child.

Fresh: Everyone keeps referring to "maturity" as a reason to hold children back. However, no one seems to be asking, "Is there a reason the child is not 'mature' enough to enter kindergarten?" I fully agree that parents know their children best; however, most parents are not developmental psychologists. My cousin learned this lesson the hard way. She held back her "immature" 5-year-old because she felt he wasn't ready. When he finally went through kindergarten testing (including hearing and vision), it was discovered that he has a degenerative vision issue and is going blind. She doesn't regret holding him back, but she does regret not trying to figure out "why." He lost an entire year of intervention for his vision issues.