Do you see any benefits for me holding my daughter back from starting kindergarten? Her birthday is a few days before the cutoff.
Reasons for holding her back in my head: another year of relaxed preK learning, slight advantage for her getting into gifted programs, more confidence (potentially). Drawbacks that I see: 1) she might be bored academically if she is the oldest and this might lead to behavior problems, 2) it would cost more money to pay for another year of full-time preK.
I don’t see much research on girls being held back. It’s mostly about boys.
So… this is really the wrong place to ask for positive things about red-shirting (the term for starting a kid late in K). #1’s kids are both grade-skipped (even the one whose birthday is a few days before the cutoff) and #1 and #2 both wish they’d been grade-skipped.
Kindergarten programs vary tremendously across the country, but most of them are still a transition into first grade even in the places where kids are expected to be reading and doing simple addition by the end of the year. That’s because a lot of kids still come in without having had any pre-K and they need to learn how to do things like sit still, take turns, follow instructions, stand in lines, and so on.
On this blog, we don’t see learning as inherently a bad thing. The idea of not getting to learn when you could is anathema. Why start a year behind when you don’t have to? If not already reading, why hold back the phonics tools to read and all the joy that comes from that? Why not get challenged while you’re still young and it’s still fun and you’re not expected to know everything already? Starting later always seems less relaxing because there’s more pressure from expectation. It is easier to drop back than it is to jump forward should troubles arise.
Academic advantages from redshirting tend to disappear by around third grade (athletic advantages persist). For kids on the margin of finishing high school, redshirting can make the difference between not graduating and graduating simply because of compulsory schooling laws– that is, a kid who is a senior age 17 is more likely to graduate from high school than one who is 18.
I’m not entirely sure what the advantage of being in a gifted program is for someone who doesn’t need to be in a gifted program? If a kid needs to be in a gifted program, then they should be, and if they don’t, they shouldn’t? The idea is to address a special need. Depending on the tests they use, an additional year may or may not help because many gifted tests are age adjusted. I guess there are arguments for it if it’s not actually a gifted program but a program for academic achievement, but so much more would be gained in terms of learning by being on grade-level rather than being behind.
Schools are also more likely to diagnose special needs than preschools and get kids with special needs intervention, so that is another benefit of starting on time as most interventions work better the earlier they start. (I vaguely remember my sister getting speech therapy for a lisp.)
In terms of confidence, I don’t know about the research, but I do know growing up, we knew who was a year older because they “flunked kindergarten” or started late. That was definitely worse than being on the younger side. People against grade-skipping are always asking about what happens when our kids hit puberty age etc. (answer: it has not been a problem for DC1), but being on the earlier side of physical development also has the possibility of being unpleasant… much better to not be the first person in your cohort going through it. Similarly with grade-skipping folks are always asking “what happens when it’s time for college” (answer: we’ll figure that out), but as someone with a PhD, I can say I had more options for timing fertility than my friend in the same program who had started kindergarten late (and I needed that time since it turned out I was infertile). And… if something goes wrong in K-college (ex. mono), there’s more options if you are on the younger side than the older… nobody wants to be 19 or 20 and still in high school. It’s easier to delay going into the labor market during a recession with a masters degree or stay another year in college to pick up a different major etc. if you’re younger rather than older (unless you have wealthy parents willing to support you for years, of course). There’s just less room for mistakes and changes when you’re older and wanting to start an adult life.
And that’s why I don’t see the point in red-shirting unless there’s a really good reason, or sports are super important (like, professionally important) for a family.
In terms of actual advice: Take things a year at a time. It is far easier to drop back if things aren’t working out than to get back to a normal grade. Since your kid has been in pre-K (and thus knows how to sit in a circle, not hit people, etc.), it is probably going to be just fine. If it isn’t fine, then you can decide then and try again later. (And if the kid is hyperactive in preschool, she may blossom in Kindergarten with more challenges–that’s the main reason we started DC1 at 4.)