Redshirting: What parents should know about delaying school enrolment

Redshirting: What parents should know about delaying school enrolment
From Global News - January 14, 2018

Taleah Clarke has no doubts. For her November baby, hitting junior kindergarten at age three was the right thing.

He went to school and that was it, said Clarke, a Toronto-based mother of two. The family didnt even consider the option of holding him back until they heard other parents at kindergarten talking about it.

Even so, Clarke has no regrets. Her son is thriving, she told Global News.

READ MORE:The lessons your kids arent learning in school but should

Alison Dare, another Toronto mom, is less sure. Her family had just moved from British Columbia, where she says holding kids back is much more common than in Ontario, when her elder son, born at the end of December, hit junior kindergarten.

I felt almost pressured to sign him up, she said.

Now in second grade, hes doing well, but socially he gravitates toward younger kids, said the mother of three, who worries he might not be able to form strong friendships with children in his own cohort.

Deciding whether or not to postpone kindergarten or Grade 1 for kids born just before the enrolment cut-off date is something many parents agonize over these days. And turning to friends and acquaintances often yields an unhelpful cacophony of different experiences and advice.

READ MORE:How to teach your kids emotional intelligence and life skills

The idea of holding late-birthday kids back became common afterMalcolm Gladwells 2008 bestseller Outliers seized on research suggesting that being relatively old in ones school cohort is an important predictor of success. Older kids, in other words, are more likely to dominate academically, emotionally, and in sports, which gives them a long-lasting advantage in life.

Gladwells book helped popularize the practice of academic redshirting, a concept borrowed from U.S. college sports where coaches sometimes wont play freshman athletes in official games in order to give them a year to improve before starting their period of eligibility. A similar thinking generally informs parents who postpone school entry.

But what does the research actually show?

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There is strong evidence that older kids tend to have a lasting advantage

Theres a lot of research that shows that being relatively old in your class has all kinds of advantages, said Elizabeth Dhuey, a professor of economics at the University of Toronto, who focuses onearly childhood development.

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Older children, regardless of gender, tend to perform better than their slightly younger peers according to a variety of metrics, from test scores, through developmental milestones, to personality traits such as leadership.

And although that advantage shrinks with age, it doesnt disappear, saidDhuey. It persists all the way up to university.

Older kids have a higher probability of pursuing higher education and getting into a better school. Theyre even more likely to enjoy higher earnings throughout their working lives, saidDhuey.

But does this mean you should hold back your late-birthday kid?


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