The sound of a stop watch, what does that do for you? I can tell you what it does for me. It teleports me back through time to various points in my life watching 60 Minutes. My first memory of the program is of me laying on the carpet in my parents family room on my stomach, head resting in my hands kicking my feet back and forth from the floor, looking up at the television and just soaking it in. I’d say I was 4 or so. We watched it every Sunday. I didn’t complain.
The first time I heard the term redshirting was from a segment that aired by Morley Safer back in 2012. RIP, Morley. I was pregnant with my son, George Boone, at the time and have a vague memory of sort of looking down on the whole thing. We would never in a million years have thought of holding our daughters back a year. In fact Lilly, our first born, is one of the youngest kids in her class with a birthday in July. I should probably write a post about parent regrets with that being one of them. I digress.
Redshirting has taken over the term that was used when I was a kid and when my parents were kids for simply holding a child back a year.
Now there were some references to this being a way for children (especially boys) to gain some social and academic strides due to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. I guess you could say that was a Tipping Point….see what I did there? Malcolm argues that a hockey team in Canada consisting of 11yr old boys is predominantly made up by the boys having birthdays in the first four months of the year. He uses his findings and tracks those with early birthdays throughout life and finds that a large number of successful people in fact, share early birthdays. To achieve this leg up in the world, parents started holding their children back a year with the hopes they’d benefit. Anyway, I sort of feel that that term gets in the way when discussing this. I prefer the more honest and simple way of looking at it. They just aren’t ready. Plain and simple.
Fast forward to early early 2017 and you’d find my husband and I talking about it. A lot. I was beating myself up, feeling guilty that maybe I hadn’t done enough for George. Mother’s guilt can be a killer. So I started talking with other parents, teachers, neighbors and my family all looking for validation, I’d say, in our decision to keep George back a year. The more I spoke with folks, the more I heard of parents doing the same thing. Not one person identified with the “We want him to be the older, bigger boy on the football team” or “We want him to be the first of his friends to drive a car.” Instead what I heard was exactly what we were considering in our decision. He would probably get clobbered in his first year of school with trying to keep up. Why do that to him when we don’t have to? He does have a later birthday and at his age a child born at the beginning of the year versus one born later on show some pretty big differences in maturity, attention span and ability to reason. At the end of the day, I needed to not look any further then our oldest, Lilly. She struggled so much for the first few years of school. Not academically as much, but certainly socially. She will be 17 when she graduates from high school. Some of her classmates will be 19 by the time they graduate with both having started school at the same time. That may not seem like much of a big deal, but from our experience, it is.
So George went to his preschool’s graduation in May, but he won’t be starting kindergarten with the majority of his classmates. What he will be doing is starting a program at our local high schools Child Development and Learning Laboratory. I can’t tell you how excited we are for him to be able to be a part of such a cool progressive learning environment. I would suggest anyone reading this post to look in to what programs your community offers for Pre K students. I feel like we won the lottery with ours. I am confident that this is exactly what my son needs. An extra year to be a little boy that isn’t feeling the pressure that our school systems and social systems inevitably place upon their precious little heads.
Please, if you have any questions or comments for me, leave them in my comments section. I’d love to hear from you! Until next time…