Redshirting: How do you know your child is ready for kindergarten?

What was a standard practice in college sports has now become synonymous with the first academic decision many parents have to make for their child...REDSHIRTING.The definition of redshirt is "a college athlete who is allowed to practice with the varsity team, but is kept out of competition for one year in order to extend the athlete's period of eligibility."

The reasons why some athletes become "redshirts" vary. For instance, a freshman athlete may not be ready to balance his/her academic and athletic responsibilities, so such athletes utilize their freshman year to get extra help in the area of academics while fine-tuning their athletic prowess. The flip side of this scenario can also be the case. In other words, an athlete may be on the smaller side, athletically speaking, and will use this year off as an opportunity to gain the strength and stamina needed to be a truly competitive athlete.

Academic redshirting refers to "the practice of postponing an age-eligible child's kindergarten entry by a year, typically one whose birthday is very close to the cut-off date. Academic redshirting is often done in order to provide some extra time for social, intellectual and physical maturation. In rare cases, a child may be academically reshirted in order to give him the advantage of an extra year's development when playing sports in high school."

As an educator and former kindergarten teacher, I have some serious thoughts about redshirting...First of all, I am not here to judge people's parental choices. What you decide to do for your child is your business unless that decision impedes upon the safety and welfare of the child. However, I am going to put my teacher hat on and ask that you consider the following before making such a life-altering decision for your child:

1. Is your child breezing through the basic academic material such as the alphabet, numbers and shapes? If so, I highly encourage you NOT to practice redshirting! Your child will be so bored out of his little mind once he enters kindergarten, and with boredom comes a whole other host of issues like behavioral problems and the need for your child to feel he should dummy himself down in order to fit in with his classmates. I don't care how petite your child appears! I don't care that your child will be the youngest in his class. Put your child in kindergarten if he/she is academically ready. PERIOD!

2. Please understand that as your child gets older and goes through school, he will realize that she is a year behind age-wise if you choose to practice redshirting. So when the time comes and you think your child will be able to fully understand what is going on, be sure to site down and have a discussion with her and explain why she is "a year behind."

3. This decision is about what is academically and socially best for your child. It's not about what is best for the parents' image or convenience. It's also not about sports. Sorry athletes, but academics come first and if those are on point; then sports will naturally follow with the right natural talent and time to hone those skills.

Again, I am not for nor against redshirting. What I am for, however, is what is best for the child, as I know you are too. Always put yourself in your child's shoes before making such big decisions for him/her. Remember: you are your child's voice and advocate until he/she finds his/her own voice. Practice your role with humility and empathy. :)