To Redshirt, or Not to Redshirt


That is the question that emerges most often in conversations regarding my children’s education. They both have late July birthdays, and this means they will either be the oldest or the youngest in their classes.

To be honest, I was not familiar with the term until a few years ago. Thank you, Malcolm Gladwell. But, I’ll admit, the idea of sidelining our kids to further their academic, social, and personal growth sounds pretty wonderful.

But is it the right fit for our family?

The answer is a bit complicated. You see, I began school when I was four-years-old. Additionally, my husband and I graduated from college when we were twenty-years-old. This, of course, compelled the scholar mom in me to examine the issue from all angles. And I couldn’t help but wonder: Had I missed out on anything in my own life by NOT being redshirted?

But, the truth is, I have yet to see a comprehensive study with robust findings that demonstrates redshirting is actually beneficial in the long run.

From what I have gathered, here are some of the advantages that might be available to us if we elect to redshirt:

Our children might be better athletes.

Our children should be at least as big as their peers.

And our son is more likely to attract the attention of female classmates.

As for academics, the gains are questionable given the mixed results of the studies that have been conducted.

And what then of my own experience? Would I do it all over again as the “young one”? And would my husband?

Yes. In a heartbeat. In those extra years that could have been spent on the traditional path, we traveled the world, took educational risks, and learned life together. With one step in our 30s, we are building a professional foundation at the same university. And, yes, it brings us great joy when others take us for students on campus.

But, as with most things in parenthood, we know we only have the answers for our children – or, at least, our best guesses. We hope and pray our kids’ non-redshirt experiences will mirror our own, but we are prepared to adjust if their journeys chart a different course. After all, no two learners are the same.

And, call me crazy, but I think we have it all wrong if we believe redshirting – or any current parenting trend – is the key to a good life for our little people. It won’t help them with their homework. It won’t offer a shoulder for crocodile tears. And it won’t ensure they form healthy relationships with the opposite sex.

That’s our job. We’ll be cheering from the sidelines.

::today’s daily inspiration::

9 thoughts on “To Redshirt, or Not to Redshirt

  1. It was suggested to me when my daughter was young to wait another year for her to start school (late August birthday). I started her, knowing she was ready. She’s always been ahead academically, and I made the right choice to send her. Had I waited, she’d likely have been so bored in school, she’d have hated it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing. I have a strong feeling that my son would have that same experience, too, if we were to sideline him for an extra year. He is only in preschool, but I cannot imagine him being in the class below his at this point, and he thrives with older learners. I, just as you, want to be careful at this point to be sure I am sowing the seeds of joyful learning in my kids. Once that love for education is gone, it is nearly impossible to get back!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. honeybadgerjedi

    My oldest was the youngest in his class (August kiddo) and was still able to keep up in the classroom and excelled on the football field (athletic scholarship). Im for NOT redshirting but I guess it depends on the child.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it comes down to social versus academic. I remember being jealous of the older students who got licenses and turned 18 sooner. Either way there will be some challenges, so parents will just need to be there to support their children. Good thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. I think our own experiences as the young ones will help us guide our children through the tough spots, while, of course, showing them all there is to savor 🙂 If we are paying attention and loving, the rest will fall into lace. Thank you for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Okay! My turn to comment since you just commented on my blog PLUS … weird, my wife and I were just talking about how many people with May, June and July birthdays are doing this.

    Our son turned 5 in March, and it seems like every person we have talked to has waited on their 5-year-old to be 6! Which makes us wonder, “Are we doing something wrong?”

    Do I think he can handle it? Absolutely! Will he struggle? Sure, but I don’t think his age will play as much a part as this is who he is … he wants to get the laughs and he’ll stop short of nothing to do it.

    Does it matter? No! Because he turned 5 in March and well … the cutoff date is September 1.

    My son is a fairly good-sized kid for his age (nonstop 99-percent in height since the day he popped out of my wife’s … HELLO!) but will he be a good-sized kid for the kids in his class that are no longer his age?

    I don’t know. Much more to go into on this but a) thank you for sharing, b) thank you for being in the same boat and c) weird that we just talked about this last week and you posted about it shortly thereafter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew there was a connection! Plus, your children are older, so I have much to learn 🙂 I think differences in physical stature and intellectual capabilities will always be present – no matter what parenting trends we follow. It’s the adversity that makes education so challenging and yet so very rich. In my average first-year writing classroom, for example, I have taught teenagers as young as 15 and adults 40+. The playing field is never truly even. Crazy coincidence with the discussion! Thank you for sharing – it sounds like your son will bloom where he’s planted 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s