Some parents choosing to 'redshirt' their rising kindergartner

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Redshirting is when parents hold their child back from entering kindergarten until they turn 6 years old. But does this recent trend actually make a child more successful in school?

Some parents that have a child with a summer birthday wonder if their child is ready to compete with other students who could sometimes be 8 months older.

"We were going to hold him back a year, we were leaning towards that," said parent John Cusatis, who enrolled his son into kindergarten just days before he turned five.

"He was always introverted and he is still shy, but he immediately made friends and got involved and loved school and loved being here," Cusatis said.

Cusatis says he and his wife contemplated holding Giovani back for just one more year because they wanted to make sure their son was socially ready and mature. Looking back, he says it was one of the best decisions he made to let him start kindergarten instead of redshirting him.

"I thought there were advantages to him being older in the future, giving him the edge in sports and academics and social wise, but I don't think those were the right reasons," Cusatis said.

Giovani's first grade teacher, Kelly James, says regardless of where your child's birthday may fall, parents shouldn't worry about academic and social skills, like leadership, because children tend to develop those characteristics once they enter Kindergarten.

"All children, no matter what their chronological age, can become leaders in a variety of different areas. Whether it be in academic or a group setting or as they continue to grow with sports or fine arts," says James.

Still, nearly a quarter of Kindergarten classrooms are made up of 6 year olds as redshirting has tripled since the 70's. When it comes to parents deciding to redshirt, boys are twice as likely to be held back as girls, whites more than minorities and rich more than poor.

Teresa Rider, a pre-school teacher, decided not to redshirt her son Alan in Kindergarten, but held him back in second grade. She says after thinking about it from a maturity standpoint and because her son had already formed friendships, holding him back in kindergarten would have been better.

"He was the smallest one in the class and he was not socially ready," Rider said.

Rider says her son, who is now 16, is flourishing in high school as a leader. And while some parents decide to redshirt from kindergarten, she believes it's important to look at why you're doing it in the first place.

"Holding someone back because they are not socially ready or they don't know the material, that's one thing. But to hold someone back for social gain and rewards? I don't know about that," Rider said.

As for Giovanni, his grades are some of the best in his first grade class and his social skills have blossomed, leaving his dad to rethink what it means to have an edge over other children.

"It's more important not for that child to have an edge over his peers but to interact with his peers. I think that's the real advantage," Cusatis said.

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