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.