August 23, 2018

‘Redshirting’ debate raises questions for parents of children with late birthdays

Children with summer birthdays are either the oldest or the youngest in their class, which can bring advantages or disadvantages in the classroom, playing fields, and when applying for colleges.

 For parents of children born close to their school district’s enrollment cutoff date, deciding whether to “redshirt” — the practice of delaying kindergarten enrollment after a child becomes eligible at age five — can be complicated.

Concerns about a child’s school readiness and social pressures from other parents factor heavily in the redshirting debate, as a recent Philadelphia Inquirer story detailed. Penn GSE’s Caroline Watts says that in considering delayed kindergarten enrollment, it’s important to recognize that while all young children experience physical, cognitive, and emotional growth, “those domains don’t necessarily mature in symphony” in every child.

A psychologist and practicing child therapist, Watts is a Senior Lecturer and the Director of School and Community Engagement at Penn GSE. Her work and research focus on developing healthy educational environments for children and youth.

 When making a decision about redshirting, Watts told the Inquirer, parents should think critically about their child’s unique developmental progress. “You have to look at your individual child and say ‘...Do they seem ready to take on the demands, challenges, and opportunities of going into kindergarten?’ ” 

Read the full piece here.

Faculty Expert