Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Redshirting? No thanks!

The New York Times has an article about redshirting, which apparently means sending your child to school one year later than he/she should or could go. I found this via Twice's blog. The advantage, supposedly, is that older kids do better at school.

I sometimes wonder whether the Atlantic Ocean is more than a vaste expanse of salty water, since humans seem to behave so differently on different sides. In my country, redshirting is allowed but discouraged unless there are serious reasons for it. Sending your child to school one year earlier is allowed, easily or not depending how far away from the cutoff date (dec 31) they are born.

I did send my daughter, born january, one year earlier. She was already bored in daycare, and all her friends were going to school. She just finished second grade as very good student, and gets along very well with her schoolmates who are one year older than she is. It might help that she is also large for her age, so offers no temptation to possible physical bullies.

I was sent to school one year earlier, and I was born 11 months after cutoff. Yes, 11 months: almost a whole year. I was basically two years younger than the oldest. The decision was taken by my parents on the suggestion of the day care teachers, who noticed that I just spent a lot of time sitting in a corner and reading (technically speaking, I didn't go earlier but skipped first grade).

I was a top student all through my school years. At the end of highschool, 3 (including me) in a class of 14 finished with honors: all 3 were younger (the other two by 3 and 7 months after cutoff) and had skipped first grade. All had been sent ahead on daycare teachers' recommendation. The fourth student who was younger, and who got a modest mark, had been sent one year early so as to be with his cousin.

In my very selected university (with strict admission test), about 10 to 20 per cent of all students were younger than they should have been.

The only thing in which my experience reflects the NYT article's content is that all people mentioned were indeed not very good at sports (my daughter redshirted herself in her minibasket course!).

I am wondering whether the difference might be related to the fact that in my country essentially all the children go to very good, very cheap state-run daycare centers for three years, and hence even younger children get prepared to the most difficult task in school: namely, sitting down and listening for more than five minutes in a row.


Twice said...

I'm glad to hear someone talk positively about the virtues of early schooling! I just had a disagreement with my father-in-law over this - he thinks later is always better, including for college! I totally disagreed, saying I wished I had skipped a grade or a year of H.S. or something, in addition to starting kindergarten early. I absolutely could have gone to college at 16 instead of 17. College (which was a geek school, I should say) was such a relief - both socially and academically. Funny, my sister-in-law, daughter of said FIL, wishes she could have skipped ahead at some point.

estraven said...

I think it is an issue where a lot depends on the individual child.

My MIL also was a bit worried about our choice for my daughter (she is from a different country where redshirting was popular even 30 years ago) but eventually she respected it.

SCMS internal intel said...

I live in Israel and our day care is trying to convince us to redshirt our son. He's one of the youngest in his class, but he does have some physical issues and language issues (he's bi-lingual and doesn't have a dominant hand yet). Congnitively he's fine. Their explanation is that it will build his self confidence and he will be a leader instead of a follower. I can assure you that the sports thing isn't an issue here.