Kindergarten Readiness: 'Redshirt' or Enroll?

Determining the right time to enroll your future kindergartner


Published:

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Across North Carolina, many parents must make what seems like a life-changing decision for their rising kindergartners: Enroll or redshirt?

The option to enroll a child who is not quite 5 years old — or who may have just turned 5 — often complicates parents’ decision-making process. The redshirt option allows parents to wait a year before enrolling their child in kindergarten.

 

Too Much Too Soon?

If your child turns 5 on or before Aug. 31, he will be able bounce into a kindergarten class that year. If your child turns 5 on Sept. 1 or later, and you would like to enroll him in kindergarten, you must go through an intense application process that involves submitting work samples and letters of recommendation, as well as IQ and achievement testing, to determine if she is eligible for early entry.

Some parents say the school system and others discouraged them from considering the early entry process.

“Everyone I told that I was considering having my son, Connor, tested for early entry kindergarten did nothing but tell me that he would never pass the test because they never knew of anyone to pass that test,” says Melissa S, a mother of three in Apex who wishes to remain anonymous. “They continued saying it’s a waste of money and that I shouldn’t push my child to test because he’s a boy and they are too immature.”

Melissa proceeded with the early-entry testing and found it was the right path for her family to take. “I knew my son was more than ready emotionally, physically, socially and academically,” she says. “Connor is 8 years old now and going into the fourth grade. He is the youngest, but top in his class since kindergarten. This coming school year, he’s even enrolled in AIG classes. He is thriving!”

Potential advantages of early enrollment include:

• Providing a challenging and enriching curriculum for a child who is ready and excited about school.

• Sending a child to kindergarten with preschool peers and buddies.

• Less financial obligations, since parents no longer have to pay day care or preschool tuition. (Keep in mind, however, there is a cost for early-enrollment testing and some working parents may still need to pay for after-school care.)

• A child will be cared for during the day, which allows parents more time to work or focus on other siblings.

Potential disadvantages of early entry include:

• If a child is emotionally, socially or behaviorally immature, you may be setting him up for academic and emotional struggles.

• If a child is not academically ready, she may experience a very frustrating year and develop a negative attitude toward school.

 

Too Late or Just Right?

Redshirting is a concept taken from college sports, through which athletes practice with their team for the first year, but sit out during competitions to become stronger and more competitive for the next year.

When it comes to kindergarten, redshirting involves holding a child back from starting kindergarten at age 5 to give that child an extra year to develop emotionally, academically and physically.

Charlotte mom Michelle Vigor says redshirting her son was a very difficult and personal decision for her and her husband.

“We both agreed that he followed directions well and was a good listener,” she says, but decided “to give time for more development of gross and fine motor skills, as well as emotional growth.”

Vigor says she has no regrets because her son “had a fantastic year, and I would make the same decision again in a heartbeat.”

Retired Wake County teacher Patti Neptun, who taught kindergarten for 15 of her 37 years as a teacher, says the parents she knows who redshirted their kindergartners never experienced regret over this decision.

“I’ve had many parents who allowed their child to start as early as possible, and many ended up regretting it,” Neptun says. “But of all the parents who waited to let their kindergartener to start as an older 5- or 6-year-old, not one ever regretted that decision.”

Potential advantages of redshirting include:

• Giving a child an advantage to succeed academically, socially and athletically.

• Giving a child who may be socially or emotionally immature a chance to “ripen” before encountering the demands of kindergarten.

Potential disadvantages of redshirting include:

• Facing negative reactions from critics who believe redshirting sets up an imbalanced and unfair playing field for other kids who are age-appropriate for their grade.

• Missing the chance to make that leap to kindergarten with preschool or day care peers.

 

Making the Call

When the time comes to make the decision about whether to enroll or redshirt your child, try to be realistic about her social, emotional and academic skills. Focus more on academic and social readiness, versus chronological age or size.

Signs of readiness include:

• Knows ABCs or sight words, and can count from 1 to 10.

• Has demonstrated an ability to sit for periods of time in a structured setting and attend to a lesson.

• Can handle separation from mom and dad well.

• Is able to play well with peers and demonstrates respect for adult authority figures.

• Can handle transitions during the day from one activity to the next.

Still aren’t sure? Get a second opinion. Ask your child’s preschool teacher, pediatrician or coach about whether they think your child might be ready for kindergarten. Many child psychologists offer a brief “screening” to more thoroughly assess your child’s emotional, social, behavioral and academic skills.

Consider what else your child will be doing if she does not start kindergarten. Will she repeat a preschool program with much younger children or enroll in a transitional kindergarten class?

Assess your child’s learning “window.” Is he excited about starting kindergarten and bored with preschool lessons?

No matter when your child starts kindergarten, it’s a new beginning for him — and you. Project a positive and calm manner when discussing kindergarten with or around your child so that when you do send him to kindergarten, your family will be able to cherish the memory of that special day.

 

Taking a Transitional Approach

Transitional kindergarten can bridge the gap between redshirting and repeating another year of preschool. Many parents and teachers view transitional kindergarten as how kindergarten was “back in the day.” Classrooms take a more developmental approach that emphasizes children’s social and emotional needs, versus taking a fast-paced academic approach.

Other benefits include:

• Children learn how to wait their turn, share and play with other children.

• Most learning is done through hands-on activities.

• Teachers strive to make learning fun to set a positive tone and help develop a child’s love of school.

• There is typically less retention of transitional kindergarten students once they enter a standard kindergarten program.

Negatives to consider:

• Transitional kindergarten adds a year of schooling and can lead to boredom if a child is academically ready for the higher demands of a regular kindergarten classroom.

• Although many parents and teachers believe holding a student back will result in higher achievement scores, most research suggests those advantages typically disappear by third grade.

 

Dr. Kristen Wynns is a child psychologist who owns Wynns Family Psychology in Cary and North Raleigh. She is also the founder of No Wimpy ParentingTM. Visit wynnsfamilypsychology.com or follow Wynns Family Psychology to learn more.

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November 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
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Cost: $7 at the door. Free for kids 3 and younger

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United Skates of America
2901 Trawick Rd.
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Sponsor: RJR
Telephone: 919-438-6066
Contact Name: Maureen Fennell
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Cost: Free

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Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
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Cost: $18

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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
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Cost: Free

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Erwin Road
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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
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Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Arts Council
120 Morris Street
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2720
Contact Name: Margaret DeMott
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Cost: Free

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Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Cost: Free

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4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
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Cost: $10/person

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Hux Family Farm
1923 Shaw Rd.
Durham, NC  27704
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Cost: Free

Where:
Sarah P. Duke Gardens - Kirby Horton Hall
420 Anderson St
Durham, NC  27708
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Sponsor: Mallarme Chamber Players
Telephone: 919-560-2788
Contact Name: Suzanne Rousso
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Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: $5 ($3 for kids 6 and younger)

Where:
The School for Creative Studies
5001 Red Mill Road
Durham, NC  27704
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Sponsor: The School for Creative Studies PTSA
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Cost: $30/adult, free for children

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Carolina Theatre of Durham
309 W. Morgan St.
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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: Free

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Quail Ridge Books
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Cost: Free

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Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
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Cost: $4 per child

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Cost: $19/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC  27513
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Cost: $19/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
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Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Ages 11 and older with special needs learn basic outdoor survival skills. Register online. Choose course #116958.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

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Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
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Cost: $45/child

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Little Guru Kids Yoga and Creative Arts
215 Glenwood Avenue
Suite A
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Sponsor: Little Guru Kids Yoga
Telephone: 919-720-4921
Contact Name: Jen Fisher
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Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

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Cost: $5/person

Where:
Renaissance Centre
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Cost: $6/child

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: $28/person

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Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
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Cost: $15-$30

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Downtown Wake Forest
, NC  27587


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Cost: $20 - $30

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White Deer Park
2400 Aversboro Road
Garner, NC  27529
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Sponsor: TeddyRox Foundation
Telephone: 919-608-5658
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Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: $45/child

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Little Guru Kids Yoga and Creative Arts
215 Glenwood Avenue
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Sponsor: Little Guru Kids Yoga
Telephone: 919-720-4921
Contact Name: Jen Fisher
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Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

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Cost: $1 per person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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The original television classic comes to life! The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. See favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey...

Cost: $15-$50

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-886-4591
Contact Name: Box Office
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Cost: $25

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Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 188-858-79530
Contact Name: hoa bui
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Cost: $35-$65

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
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201 E. Hargett St.
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Cost: Free

Where:
Perch Studios
106 S. Greensboro St.
Suite E
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Sponsor: Perch Coworking
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Cost: Free

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Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
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Cost: $15-$50

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
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Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 188-858-79530
Contact Name: hoa bui
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Cost: $13.50/person

Where:
Spring Haven Farm
5306 Homer Ruffin Rd.
Chapel Hill , NC  27516
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Sponsor: Spring Haven Farm
Telephone: 919.407.1806
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Cost: $35 child and adult pair, or $15/child and $25/adult

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 888-587-9530
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Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. See favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster,...

Cost: $15-$50

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Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-886-4591
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Cost: $35-$65

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Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
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Cost: $20/person

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Cost: See website for fees

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