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What is Academic Redshirting?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2016
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Redshirting is a fairly common term applied to college athletes and the delaying of their participation in their school’s regular season athletic program in order to further hone their skills and improve their future seasons. However, academic redshirting is a relatively new term that applies to delaying entrance into kindergarten for young children.

Though the eligible school age varies slightly from district to district, the typical age at which is a child is eligible for kindergarten is five, providing the child turns five by a date somewhere close to the start of the school year. Academic redshirting refers to the postponement of kindergarten entrance until the year after the child is eligible to attend, when the child would be six years of age or turning six close to the start of the school year.

There are several reasons why parents and school administrators may choose to practice academic redshirting. The primary reason is to allow for the child to experience further emotional, intellectual or physical growth before starting school. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) National Household Education Surveys Program of 2007 found that approximately 8% of parents planned to delay kindergarten entrance of their age-eligible child for the 2008 school year.

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Academic redshirting may be applied in part because of increased demands in public schools where parents feel their child has not yet developed certain academic or physical development skills required. Similarly, parents may recognize a need for extra social and emotional development. Academic redshirting is a practice applied more often to boys than girls, as the 2007 National Household Education Surveys showed. In the survey, academic redshirting applied to twice as many boys than girls. This likely stems from a long-held belief that boys mature slower than girls, both intellectually and socially.

In some cases where academic redshriting is applied, it is a mutual decision made by parents and their child’s school. Kindergarten entrance exams are administered to age-eligible children, and should the results of those tests find that the child could benefit from a delayed entrance into kindergarten, parents and school administrators may conclude that the delay is warranted. However, ultimately, unless a child is of compulsory school age, that is to say they have reached the age at which school attendance is mandatory, the decision to delay kindergarten entrance is left to the parents.

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