Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Redshirting" Kindergartners

From Ed Week:

The youngest kindergarteners in any class are about five times more likely to be retained in school compared to their older peers, a new study states.

Moreover, educators don't tend to modify their teaching to include a variety of age groups present in kindergartens—but they should make such accommodations, wrote Francis L. Huang, assistant professor in the University of Missouri College of Education, in her study "Further Understanding Factors Associated with Grade Retention: Birthday Effects and Socioemotional Skills," published in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.

The age difference between the oldest children and their youngest peers in any kindergarten might be 12 months—a difference of 20 percent less life experience, Huang wrote.

Their Early Years section had an article last year about holding back a younger-than-the rest kindergartner.  This study says that children from wealthier families hold back their younger kindergartener more often than other families, boys are twice as likely as girls to be held back  and white children are held back more than black children.

"Delaying kindergarten means finding and paying for another year of child care," Bassok said. "For most low-income families, redshirting is far too expensive."

My husband and I held back our younger son (he just missed the SPS cut-off date in September).  We could have appealed (and likely got him in) but our thought was that him being one of the youngest AND likely one of the shortest kids, throughout his school years, was not good.   It worked for us but we were able to do so and that may not be a choice for many.

This is an important consideration as Common Core comes.  I will write a separate thread on this issue but many child psychologists and elementary teachers are speaking out and saying that Common Core is developmentally inappropriate for K-2.  Also to note, Governor Cuomo's Common Core review panel said NO kids, pre-K to grade 2 should be taking any standardized "bubble" test.

To protect young children from anxiety and to promote research-based educational practices, the State should prohibit the use of standardized “bubble tests” for children in pre-kindergarten through second grade. 

This is well-known YouTube video by Dr. Megan Koschnick speaking on this subject of Common Core and younger children.

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

Waldorf holds kids back. When my oldest was entering 1st grade, you had to be 6 by April 1 for 1st grade the next year. With a July birthday, my eldest was held back and started 1st grade at the age of 7. Seattle Waldorf has adjusted the 1st grade age requirement to 6 by June 1 since that time, largely due to the fact that kids were transferring into the class more than year younger than the original 1st graders so the age spread in a class by 5th grade could me 15 months or more.

HP

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most disturbing trends, especially since it is driven IMHO by the desire for the boys ( mostly ) to excel at sports later. A lot of the studies I have seen about is that the advantage wears off by middle school and redshirted kids do poorly academically since they have not had to work as hard in earlier grades. Pretty soon boys will be shaving in fourth grade...

Heck , I started K at age 4 (December birthday, bless the '70s) and still graduated in the top 5% of my High School.

--Annoyed

Anonymous said...

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/09/youngest-kid-smartest-kid.html

This September New Yorker piece cites research that comes to the exact opposite conclusion. The study compared performance over time of kids with higher and lower relative age (not specifically kids who had been started early or "red shirted").

"Not only did (relatively older kids) score significantly lower on achievement tests—both in kindergarten and middle school—they were also more likely to have been kept back a year by the time they reached middle school, and were less likely to take college-entrance exams."

The hypothesis is that younger kids are more motivated (encouraged?) to work hard to catch up with the older students and that the "effort" mindset they develop serves them well throughout their school years. Older kids, on the other hand, do well in early years, but may fail to develop persistence and other traits associated with success.

Beacon Hiller

Anonymous said...

"My husband and I held back our younger son (he just missed the SPS cut-off date in September)."

Not appealing a cut off date isn't "holding back." It's just following the rules.

I think that part of the solution is that absent extraordinary circumstances, the age deadlines should be followed. That will still mean a 12m age difference in classes, but it will mitigate the effect of having 12m+ age differences (which can happen, if parents chose whether they'll keep back, say, their fall birthday children).

A number of private schools were telling people with summer birthdays to "try again next year", resulting in 1+ year gaps (in one year, I counted a gap of 16 mo gap between the oldest and youngest child). Some of them are switching to simply having a summer deadline (July 1, I think for some). I like that solution better.

There might be kids on the margins who should either be advanced or delayed, but it shouldn't be a standard practice.

zb

Anonymous said...

"A number of private schools were telling people with summer birthdays to "try again next year", resulting in 1+ year gaps (in one year, I counted a gap of 16 mo gap between the oldest and youngest child)"

These private schools also have lucrative "Fives" programs which they can extract another year's worth of tuition from parents...

--Annoyed

Melissa Westbrook said...

ZB, but we could have appealed; that was part of the rules at the time.

Anonymous said...

The research on the topic of benefits of delaying age of entry is quite mixed -- a cursory search shows a number of articles -- mostly from other countries that show long lasting effects of entering age in education (i.e. younger children perform worse): http://www.ecostat.unical.it/RePEc/WorkingPapers/WP01_2011.pdf

Educational systems are different, and kids start school at different ages, so I think we can't get really clear answers. But, there's no way to make everyone the same age (well, at least until people chose to control their reproduction based on school deadlines, and they probably won't, since school is only one thing with a deadline), having a fixed range might decrease range and. Combined with including developmental stage in expectations (not just chronological), maybe we could mitigate negative effects (if they exist) of being younger in a class.

zb

Anonymous said...

Well perhaps the broader discussion should be, "What is Kindergarten?"

Years ago, K was a half-day affair and now it has morphed into a chair and desk affair with Common Core standards.

Now we have a clamoring for universal Pre-K...

Should we just renumber the grades and end up graduating after Grade 13?

Perplexed

karen said...

Unless your kid is delayed, has learning disabilities, etc. you should send them on time! There are loads of drawbacks for not doing so. They truly do get bored academically and they don't get to play rec sports with their classmates.

Advanced Learning screening criteria (AKA MAP tests) needs to be age-based not grade-based like it currently is. There is a disproportionate number of kids in APP that were red-shirted. I've said it before on this blog, if your kid starts K at 6 years old instead of 5, they are not necessarily "gifted" if they breeze through the homework and classwork. They could be, but they could also be average if they had started on time. There are plenty of kids 12-14 months older than my kid with a July birthday (who started on time) at Lincoln. I am not exaggerating when I say there are several kids with May birthdays whose parents held them back.

At least, most of the rec sports leagues put these kids onto teams based on their b-days not grade in school. The shame is they don't get to play with their classmates.

We started our son with an August b-day on time. He has kids in his K class that are turning 7(!) in kindergarten!!! Come on! Then, the parents push for accommodation since their kid is so "advanced". The good news for our son is there are quite a few other boys with summer b-days that weren't held back. There is a huge social difference between these kids, and it's problematic. Our limited experience points to the older boys being in trouble quite a bit. The older girls don't necessarily click with the younger ones since there's a huge developmental difference between 5 & 6 year olds.

karen said...

To tack onto my comment, I feel for parents who have kids with early-September b-days. They have a tough decision to make. For these kids, I think SPS is WRONG to not allow them into APP at the appropriate grade level if their parents started them "early".

Anonymous said...

I think zero people in the seattle area hold their kids back so they are better at sports 12 years later. The league cut offs are different anyway, and it's best to be an august birth day, because then you are the oldest. And if you are into sports, you need to play a decade of those to be competitive before you'd get to high school and see some supposed benefit.

People hold their kids back because kindergarten now requires specific executive function skills, behavioral skills, impulse control, and transition ability which is 1) sometimes later to develop in boys, I think for both nature and nurture reasons, and 2) was absolutely not required when anyone posting on this blog went to school, so anyone posting's experience is completely irrelevant to parents deciding today. We still had NAP when I went to kindergarten, which lasted 4 hours including the nap. Nap! Can you imagine, between the MAP tests and writing paragraphs in K, nap?!

I have two summer birthdays, and one winter birthday. I sent everybody on time, but have some mild regrets about one of the summer birthdays. Academically things are great, but socially there have been some bumps pretty clearly caused by the kid being both younger than their peers and also a little slower to develop socially. I think how you are with your peers in elementary school is pretty formative, so I wish I had given that child a more appropriate set of peers by sending them the next year.

-sleeeper

Anonymous said...

Karen, I know many of those kids, too, and gently, you have no idea what is going on with those families. Many of them(I'd wager most, based on talking to the ones I know well enough to tell me) are 2e, both gifted and unable to handle the rigors of classroom experience at the young age we ask people to do so because of a disability of some kind.

And have you considered that the older boys were held back because they had low impulse control, would have been more trouble the year before, and this is just the best everybody can do.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the triple post, but the screening is both age and grade based. It is one of few things that makes sense about the screening policy, so it's important to note. The IQ portion(cogat) asks whether you are likely to stay ahead based on your ability to solve new problems, and it is age based, not grade based. There have been years when it is not (and I worry that if they screen everybody they will cheap out and not continue the age based, normed to within 3 months of the child's birthday test), but not in recent years.

The achievement portion(MAP) is grade based and asks whether you are both far enough ahead of your current grade to need something different than what gen ed is offering you, and also whether you are ready to handle the accelerated program at APP in the grade you will be in. Given that the program is accelerated, it's completely conscientious of the school district to assess readiness. And if the kid still has lots to learn in a gen ed program, then the gen ed program is a great spot for them right then.

But I also think this is divorced from the red shirting issue, which I think is much more about behavioral expectations in kindergarten then later program choices.

-sleeper

karen said...

Hi Sleeper, I say this nicely, tone is hard to decipher on this blog. Your comments about your summer b-day kid(s) could actually back up some of my statements if there were a lot of older kids in your kid's class.

I do know some of the families, and I know them well. Granted, there are *some* instances like the 2e you point out, but others do not fall into that category at all. And, if you re-read my post, I said the AL testing SCREENING criteria (i.e. the criteria that determines whether or not your kid gets the IQ test) is grade-based not age-based. It's only that 2nd round of testing that is age-based (what was the CoGat when my kid took it).

I agree that not many, I can't say zero, Seattlelites red-shirt kids for sports. That's probably more of a football culture, but I don't know.

Anonymous said...

I'm with annoyed. There is an already 10 year old in my daughter's 3rd grade class. And this is a mixed 1st - 3rd Montessori class. He should be in 4th grade.

Mag mom

Anonymous said...

We "redshirted" our oldest boy --- July birthday --- for a few reasons. We have experienced no difficulties following this decision. He went to a small Catholic K-8 school and there were a number of boys and girls similar to his age (although he was the oldest). He is now a freshman in high school and plays select baseball in addition to high school football and baseball. His age seems to give him no advantage in high school sports. As for his select baseball team, half the boys are in 9th grade and half are in 10th grade.

Academically, he is a slightly above average student --- mostly A's --- and has never communicated he was bored in school (anymore than the average kid). He is definitely not gifted.

Frankly, my wife and I (both educators) believe this was a good decision.

--- swk

karen said...

Sleeper, it's me again. Your comment "The achievement portion(MAP) is grade based and asks whether you are both far enough ahead of your current grade to need something different than what gen ed is offering you" again ties to my comments.

If you hold a non-2e, normally developing kid with, for example, a May b-day, back, who knows if GenEd in the "correct" grade for that kid would have been "something different" enough? I think the MAP screening tests for AL programs should also be age-based. That would eliminate the issue you raise in your comment. And, I don't disagree with you. I just disagree with 7 year olds taking the same exact screening test as my 5 year old.

I grew up in the midwest. Back when I was in school, the cut-off for K was September 30. If that's still the case, you could have 4 year olds taking the Fall MAP test as kindergartners and the "6 1/2" year olds in K in SPS are "normed" against those kids for further AL testing purposes.

Anonymous said...

What's gotten weird is that some kids used to be "held back" in order to help the child, but now many are being "held back" to give them an advantage in comparison to others.

That is the problem to me. Whether it's for sports or academics, "redshirting" for this reason, IMO, stinks.

--enough already

Kate said...

I feel guilty about following the rules and keeping my daughter in Preschool for another year. She tested into early entrance, but didn't want to go. I didn't push because of the APP ineligibility thing. Spectrum was not offered in our neighborhood (the program being so impacted that there was no chance of getting in) and if she was not allowed into APP due to her age we would have no outlet if she ended up being bored in gen en.

Note: I was the youngest in my grade with a end of Nov birthday. My husband was kept back and was the oldest in his class with a similar late Nov birthday. We both enjoyed our relative experiences.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the issue with holding back in Waldorf that you might see in public school because in Waldorf, everyone is held back. The 12th grade class at Seattle Waldorf High School has a lot of students with April through July birthdays who will turn 19 this year. The kids are doing amazingly well academically and are being accepted to top notch universities. They are also very mature and have good eq's. Academics are set up to start at around age 7 in Waldorf, much like the Finnish system, and it works very well for many kids. My eldest included.

HP

Anonymous said...

I think as much as we'd like it to be relevant, those of us who have experience being the "youngest" in school are talking about a whole different ball of wax. We talk about the impact of driver's licenses and turning 21. There are many more measures of "success" now (however misguided), that start even in K, and that are impacted significantly by age.

I understand the issues of impulse control in boys, but I think it should go with the territory in K and I hope the current red-shirting trend starts to swing back the other way. I don't love it that my incoming K kid will be 14+ months younger than kids in her class. She certainly "shows" her youth socially but if she can make it work, we feel she'll be better off.

Another mom

Anonymous said...

I think this is one of those things where parents need to agree to disagree. You make the choice that seems best for your child, and lo and behold, it probably turns out ok for your child.

Probably our biggest complaint is when teachers expect the younger children to have the same maturity level as some of the older classmates. There is sometimes a lower tolerance for what is typical behavior for their age.

parent

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with red-shirting, but I am annoyed with how differently SPS handles it from early-entrance.

We had an early September child - just barely missing the deadline -who we wanted to start early. We had to jump through hoops to do this - get him tested, apply late, hope to be accommodated at our local school depending on space. When, a couple years later, he tested into APP, it was basically a non-starter as they wanted to hold him back a grade. If you have a ready child born Nov 1, I think you're just completely out of luck.

In contrast, if a parent wants to hold back their May child, no hoops to jump. No issues with APP - even though it's only 1-year acceleration at that point.

Essentially, the system encourages red-shirting vs early-entrance.

Why not handle these the same? I.e., a late entrance kindergarten application. Limit it to July and August kids. If parents want to redshirt their child, require testing to determine if it's appropriate, else assign them to 1st grade. If that child qualifies for APP, require a grade skip for 2 year acceleration.

jsh

Anonymous said...

Karen, none of the kids in the problem class were redshirted. My summer birthday is just young for her age.

I don't see what the problem with a 5.5 year old taking a test with 7 year olds is, if they are in the sane class. The question is whether any of those kids need something different, not how each of them would do if they were the same age. I think the test should be trying to figure out who the outliers are, not how they got there.

But app is just a big distracter in this discussion. I think kindergarten is not appropriate for many kids, and I wonder if we should change kindergarten, not the kids(or blame the parents for recognizing that.

-sleeper

Charlie Mas said...

I don't get this whole discussion.

I have to believe that whatever the consequence of starting Kindergarten at five or six, the difference is surely incremental and, just as surely, short-lived. More to the point, I have to believe that the consequence, such as it is, is highly idiosyncratic. What is good for one kid could be bad for the next and have no effect on the third. Like nearly everything having to do with the development of a living thing, it should be regarded on a case-by-case basis.

I wouldn't make any generalized statements about the effect on children - benefits or harm - nor would I bother to do so since, I suspect, whatever the effect it is likely to be very small in the vast majority of cases.

Anonymous said...

What is the point of this study and article again? Is there a real learning and social concern here with the 1+ year age difference or not? If not, why don't we do more grade skipping?

curious

Anonymous said...

In the one room school days, you grouped by ability, not by age. As education became something for the masses, grouping became easier to do by age. However, we all know kids who develop differently so a 4 year and a 6 year old may both be fine for K even though they are 2 years apart. I don't think we're going to see anything like that for public school.

Pesonally, I have a kid who just missed the cut off and was not accepted for early entrance. It was not for lack of academic readiness but because the child didn't raise a hand before answering the question and didn't walk one foot in front of the other down the stairs. Yet, a child of age may do those exact same things and may be less academically ready and be considered qualified or eligible to go to K. Not sure why it matters for one situation and not the other.

lmk

Anonymous said...

We have 2 summer birthday kids, both APP. We chose to "redshirt" child # 2 not to game the system but because we were following the advice of his preschool teachers. I guess you would call him a 2E kid. He has had an IEP for speech since age 3. His preschool teachers wanted him to focus on developing his speech skills before starting Kinderarten. We followed their professional advice. If anything, we were concerned that being ahead of his peers would be a problem, not an advantage. My kid is the kid that the Lincoln parent looks at and labels as someone who doesn't belong in APP because they think his parents gamed the system. Believe me, the age "advantage", if any, has worn off as the kids have grown and APP is still the right placement for him. Please be aware that it isn't always obvious who has an IEP or why a kid started K late.
-- old time APPer

Anonymous said...

We have a child with a September birthday but haven't decided what to do when the time comes to make a decision. We still have a year to go, but we've been wondering how they screen for early admission to K and do they do a good job of predicting whether your child is ready?

--Wondering

Anonymous said...

@Wondering - we went through the process several years ago so I'm not sure if it's exactly the same now. Our child went in for a 50 minute assessment. It's a snapshot of your child in a classroom like setting with a bunch of other kids. There was no test that I'm aware of that said he knows x,y,z, necessary for kindergarten. That's why it was strange when our child was rejected for early entrance because of things like not raising his hand before being called on to answer and not alternating his feet when walking down the stairs (even though he knew how to do that). It is strictly my speculation that with all the overcrowding in the schools (at least the north end and this was a few years ago mind you), they weren't going to take any kids who were going to require additional attention. My son was a rambunctious, talkative child and while the additional year may have been good for him emotionally/socially, he would have benefitted academically from being with older kids.

So, I have no idea what they were looking for and I would not be surprised if they took more girls than boys. And, maybe experienced teachers can make an accurate assessment in 50 minutes but there's also bound be errors as well.

lmk

Anonymous said...

I have a June birthday boy who is wiggly, curious, extroverted, very slow to develop small motor skills, and obsessed with numbers. We will get a recommendation from his co-op preschool this spring, but unless they absolutely recommend against it, we will send him on time. He is so very different from his older sister who was not wiggly, loved small motor activities, but was much more introverted. She was a fall baby so we did not face this dilemma at all with her. I have heard every opinion out there about red shirting. Some say, yes, others, no, in the end, we will just have to go with our intuition. My feeling is that there is so much expected of these tiny little kids that it is a challenge for all of them. It takes so much energy for them to hold themselves together for 6 hours. If we have to, we will do half days for a while and/or repeat kindergarten. I want to give him the chance to rise to the occasion though and I really think he is capable of it. I guess we will find out next year!

Summer boy mama

Anonymous said...

Summer Boy Mama,

Don't count on retention in KG if your little wiggly one needs more time to develop. At least not in Seattle. Retention is a four letter word and that won't happen even if you want it. If in doubt about his "readiness" at all, keep him in preschool. That is something you won't regret.

SSD Staffer

Anonymous said...

Summer Boy Mama, he sounds like the majority of boys in my sons class. Nothing you describe makes me think he should be kept in preschool. SSD staffer, why? Because she said "wiggly"? Sheesh.

goodgrief

Anonymous said...

There is a bad culture of wanting to "perfect" our children before sending them to K. It does not need to be so.

goodgrief

Anonymous said...

The Malcolm Gladwell book "Outliers" talked about how professional Canadian hockey players were likely to have been the oldest students in their class and how their age in school created subsequent advantages.

The book seemed to legitimize and encourage this practice for the parents who want to give their child an edge over others.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

My child was born in March and in her class she is one of the youngest kids which I find strange. It does throw things off when so many parents hold their kids back.
RR

n said...

Making generalizations based on your own experiences is dangerous. I always take note of birthdays at the beginning of the year because I cannot tell academically who my youngest are. But I sure can tell you that emotionally they need a different kind of social experience than the older kids. They don't always show it but usually a situation arises when a teacher finds out just how young a student really is. By checking at the beginning of school, I can avoid those situations and the helicopter parents that often accompany them.

If it isn't sensitivity, it's immaturity and lots and lots of impulsivity.

For youngsters who join a K that is still more social and less paper-pencil, kids do well. But by first grade, they have a lot of self-management issues and first-grade teachers are teaching more than ever before. It's a problem. A student's arents may not think it is a problem but often times the parents of the other kids in the classroom do.

What's wrong with an extra year of love and security from Mom and Dad?

Not to mention preemies. Most teachers I know keep their own kids back esp. if they're boys.

Anonymous said...

Thank you n. Every family has to take the measure of the child, and of the child in the system. The "redshirting" label is offensive. For us, it is irrelevant. Our kid is not ever going to excel in sports. But holding him back a year (summer birthday) has meant the world socially. Maybe people should just stop reading this blog. Parents need to trust their instincts. We did, and of all the things we regularly worry about and wonder about and second guess ourselves about, this decision to trust our instincts won't even be on the long list.

Reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, ditto. Everyone has to make the best decision for their child and their family.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, everyone should make the best decision for their child and their family. But unless there is a real reason to do so, I think people should follow the rules. I mean, someone's gotta be the youngest kid in the class...

I know a few parents who have delayed their (bright, normal) child's entry into K, and they are just doing it to get every possible advantage for their little hothouse orchid. They have no problem paying for another year of expensive preschool to do it. it's not fair to everyone else.

8/28 Birthday

Anonymous said...

To Good Grief,

I said she should not start KG if she has doubts about her son's readiness, especially if her "Backup Plan" is to retain him in KG. And from my "insiders" and SIT member perspective, it's the schools, not the parents who are pushing developmentally inappropriate "readiness" for 5 and 6 year olds. The schools are pushing the "perfect the kid" envelope.

SSD Staffer



Anonymous said...

Redshirting may have a positive impact for some of those held back, but I agree that it can also be detrimental to those kids whose families follow the rules. Someone ultimately has to be the youngest, and it seems selfish to me to subject those kids to a possible 18 month age gap in the classroom. Yes kindergarten has become much more academic and that may be the true problem here. I believe starting age should be hard and fast (with exceptions for kids with IEP's), and difference in readiness should be accommodated in the classroom. I may be lambasted for this but red shirting in my mind has parallels to the antivaxxer debate - great for my kid - everyone else's be damned.
2boysclub

Lynn said...

8/28 Birthday,

What unfair advantage do you think these children are gaining - and over whom? I kept my child with an August birthday home because he was 't ready to be away from home for a full day. (No expensive preschool for him either - 7.5 hours a week in a church basement.) How do you imagine this affected his kindergarten classmates?

Lynn said...

What does a hard and fast starting age rule look like to you? A legal requirement to enroll every child in school at five? Or forced enrollment in first grade if they are six when they show up - whether they've been to kindergarten or not? Next we'll be hearing that mandatory full day preschool at four is a good idea.

I have no interest in giving the state any more control over our children.

Anonymous said...

I think it tilts the scales toward those kids who sit in their seats, are readers etc, and exacerbates the trend toward making k into first grade. Kids shouldn't have to 'ready' for k - k should be making them ready for 1st grade! If we are so worried about readiness, pre-k should be free. I will grant you that a legitimate half day option should be available, especially since we don't do naps in kindergarten anymore (I remember those too!).

And aren't all children required by law to attend school of some sort? Having them start at a specified age doesn't seem any more heavy handed. Ultimately I think we are giving the district a free pass by not demanding that kindergarten be more appropriate for the age of kids that they expect to attend.

One more thing - shirking the recommended starting age is trend primarily of the privileged classes, which I find confusing - shouldn't our privileged children be more prepared for starting school?

2boysclub

Anonymous said...

Another anecdote...We sent our child with a late August bday to K on time. Our child had maybe half a year of preschool and was still learning to write letters. The first two weeks of K there was crying at every morning drop-off (but everything was fine after about 5 min in the classroom). There was a lot of growth both socially and academically, and there was no shortage of play time. By the end of K our child was was reading and writing.

I think what @8/28 may be getting at is the skew that could happen if a significant number of families chose to hold back their child. The expectations might shift to the point that the youngest student now feels like an outlier, when they just followed the rules for cut-offs. Does this really happen, or do teachers see a pretty normal distribution of ages/bdays?

Our child's 1st grade teacher lamented that K is now 1st grade. Back in the old days (when I was a child) K was optional. Our school started at grade 1. Kindergarten was half days of singing songs, pasting and cutting, and learning numbers, letters, and colors.

In Washington State, school attendance is not compulsory until age 8. You can't make a child go to Kindergarten. In most states compulsory attendance starts at age 6 or 7.

-old timer

Anonymous said...

Lynne, I know I'm just stirring the pot here, and am being rather argumentative. It's just these are questions that I've had for a long time and and curious what reasoned argument for the other side sounds like. I know parents are making the choices that are best for their child, and I don't begrudge them that, I do the same myself.

I appreciate the dialogue :)

2boysclub

Anonymous said...

We didn't send our August boy on time. To us, it was very compelling that teachers typically do not send summer-birthday boys to Kindergarten when they are five. We were not ready to subject him to the rigor of today's kindergarten when he had just turned five. And, he's not even the oldest. There are three older boys in his class with June, July, and August birthdays.

Today's kindergarten includes standardized testing on a computer in the fall, reading expectations, the expectation that the children can sit still for over six hours, the expectation that kids take PE "seriously" (no joke) rather than treat it like a chance to run around, etc. In art, they have to produce pieces of work according to standards. Free form art is not allowed. Again, I'm not kidding. If the school system wants just turned five year olds to blossom in K, then change K!

Instead, SPS gives parents the nudge to keep summer birthday boys back. Teachers keep their own kids back, the teachers and administrators talk up keeping kids back when parents tour APP, you have to fight the system to get in early, but do nothing to keep them back, etc. The clear message is that they endorse the process and it makes it easier for teachers to manage classrooms.

Go back to true K, and I'm sure you'd see a lot of parents making different decisions. Until then, parents will keep making their own decisions based upon the knowledge they have when their kid is just five.

-signed, another old timer who remembers nap time in half-day kindergarten

Anonymous said...

I think the difference is how much of a competition we see elementary school as, and therefore whether it is "cheating" to get your child more ready. I don't see much of a competition in elementary school, and I think it be hooves both the potentially red shirted kid and their classmates to have prepared kids in the classroom. I do agree that kindergarten should be less academic, but I don't think parents have the power to change that through population shifting. It would have to come from the district. If parents had that kind of power there would be so much more advanced learning at some schools.

Old timer- I know that at least in the NE, since the end of the choice era, more parents send their kids in early. It used to be that you got sent to the back of the line if you went in early(and so were sent to John Rogers no matter where you lived), so people would just put their kids in on time or hold back. Now, if you test in, you are the same as any other enrollee, at least with respect to neighborhood schools. My elementary teacher friends say this has changed the make up- the spread is wider, but it is pretty balanced.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Lynne, to answer your specific question, I think the detrimental affect to the younger kids is that by comparison, they will now be behind. The kids that are a year older will be stronger, faster, taller (good for sports) and more advanced academically. They will be the ones selected for the advanced reading groups, they will have an advantage getting into APP or Spectrum. They will be the ones who are ready to sit and pay attention, versus my just-turned 5-year old. I've read that supposedly it all evens out after 3rd grade, but I don't know...

8/28 Birthday

Lori said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lori said...

I have a late August child who went to school on time too. We have never regretted that decision for a moment.

What I can add to this conversation though is the pressure parents receive to hold their child back. Attitudes like n's are prevalent. The principal at our neighborhood school told me on a tour that it is "always" better to be the oldest child in the class versus being the youngest. I remember the conversation because I was surprised at how absolute her opinion was. I felt like we were being discouraged from sending our child on time, based on a generalization rather than knowledge of our individual child.

Honestly, it was hard to go against the advice of professionals. But if a child is ready academically, I don't see how you deny them. An extra year at home with mom and dad might not be the optimal choice for a child who is eager and ready to learn and expand their horizons.

Lastly, our experience in APP is different than others have reported. Because I was worried that my kid would be younger than classmates by 12-16 months due to red-shirting, I've paid attention each year. I've talked to other parents. In 4 years in APP, most of the summer birthday kids were born the same year as mine. I haven't seen a lot of red-shirting. Yeah, totally anecdotal, but I put this out there so that people don't leave this thread with the impression that APP kids are "old" for their grade due to not staring school on time and that's why they're there. Just like everywhere, some kids went on time, some didn't. I trust families to make those decisions for themselves. I just hope teachers and principals take the time to consider kids as individuals instead of making blanket proclamations.

Anonymous said...

They might be further ahead for the achievement portion of the app test (no achievement portion for spectrum in k) but not for he IQ portion. That is a pretty small advantage, and you are right, the age gap narrows significantly by third grade academically. If those held back kids were younger, though, they might be more distracted, impulsive, acting out, which isn't hot for a classroom environment either. The sports cut offs are different- July- so that August is the most advantageous sports birthday for team sports, or January, actually, for the individual sports (swimming and track I know, at least). I don't agree that it especially matters whether the other kids have an "edge" academically. An edge to what, you know? There is no kindergarten ranking, and these groupings are very fluid. Half the high readers in kindergarten are in the lower groups in third grade in the class I know about; it really doesn't matter where they start. Some of them are clearly talentd and bright so stay, but whatever age edge there was is gone, so I think that has got to be outweighed by the positive of better classroom environment and better individual experience for the child/having the kid not hate school.

Yet again, a problem we could ameliorate by having smaller class sizes. I do think the difficulty of managing the more immature kids is mostly a problem of too large class sizes. If here were 17-18 kids, it wouldn't be a problem. It's a problem with 26 other kids.

-sleeper

n said...

Lori, just for record, I don't think I gave you my "attitude" as much as my "experience" over thirty years of primary teaching.

BTW, brain research shows that brains develop generally along similar time frames and yes, brain development, does affect learning.

Anonymous said...

My kids kindergarten had kids ages 4 to 7. My boy was young and wiggly, so I got a lot of pressure to redshirt from family. I sent him half day so he could come home and get his nap. SPS puts a lot of pressure on parents to enroll in whole day k, but it is optional, and usually costs extra.

Lynn said...

8/28 Birthdaye,

It's your assumption that children are competing for advanced reading groups that makes no sense to me. Does your kindergartner care which reading group her friends are in?
The child I started late is tall for his grade for sure - but he's tall for the next grade too. He's not sporty - so need to worry we're gaining an unfair advantage there.

Anonymous said...

I hand delivered our appeal 2/21 which included a qualifying test score. Received an email 3/5 with the result of the appeal. The email I received was in response to a general email inquiry re the standard for appeal that I had submitted 3/3. I was told a letter would be mailed in the next day or two, but we still have received no letter. I don't think we'd have received the results yet if I hadn't inquired (the fact that I previously wrote to the Board to complain may also have helped).

Anonymous said...

Sorry, post above was meant for a different thread on a different forum. Too many tabs open at once. Please delete.

Anonymous said...

Another thing to take into account is split classes. I have a kid with a mid year birthday who I think is very emotionally mature for her age. In her split she was pegged as "young for her age" because more than half the kids in the class were a grade ahead. I don't know how many were redshirted, but I suspect that the age skewed high in the classroom and that's part of the reason my kid was not served well in that setting. The school should have put a lot more thought into making up the split. This definetely did put my child and our family who followed all the rules at a disadvantage.

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

And what I mean by that was she had a "job" in the classroom, to be a quiet girl who was supposed to mitigate the boy energy in the classroom. She was constantly put into groups where she was supposed to keep things on track and keep the academic focus (not appropriate anyway) but then when she couldn't manage that job with the older boys she was pegged as not a leader and "very quiet" and shy. (Not the case at all actually.)

Anonymous said...

I get so frustrated reading these types of threads because it always seems like people want to paint others as having some kind of sinister motive for the choices they make. I have 3 boys, all so different from one another. My oldest was born at the end of August. He had a speech delay and couldn't really talk until he was three. He also has a fine motor skills delay and was an extremely shy toddler/preschooler. As his parents, our job was to make the best decision we could for him and we chose to give him another year at a play-based preschool (just 3 days a week for 2.5 hrs) where he could learn to make friends and just be a kid. He went into kindergarten at 6, not knowing how to read or write. There was no hidden motive for us to give him an extra to year to beef up his academics and steamroll the 5 year-olds. We just knew him and knew he wasn't ready, plain and simple. His best friend is a boy who has an August birthday and entered school at 5. There's no issue with their age difference because they're kids and they don't care who reads better. They just want to throw a baseball to each other or play action figures. This "issue" affects parents way more than children, at least from our experience.
-mom of 3 boys

Anonymous said...

One more thing...I'm speaking in general about my frustration with parenting posts on the internet, not singling anyone out here. I know every one of us is just trying to love our child well so I feel sad when lines get drawn and sides get taken. That's all I'm trying to say.
-mom of 3 boys

anne phillips said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I felt really sad when I realized that there was more to it than looking at my kid (totally on target, ready to learn at grade level, no special accommodations needed) and the school (good reputation for being academic and suited to kids who like to learn, neat, clean, fantastic facilities compared to most public schools in this city). Who knew there were all these other issues that would affect demographics so much that my kid would end up feeling so out of place and isolated at that school? That she would end up being descibed by her teacher with so many pejorative adjectives that we had never heard anyone use about her before? Easy kid, good school in the neighborhood. Should be pretty simple. Very sadly that was not our experience and I know everyone just wants the best for their kid. We do too. We just didn't take any "special" measures because honestly, we looked at our kid and didn't feel the need to do that. Now we know that you really have to take into consideration what all the other parents are doing to get the best for their kid, because like it or not, those choices will affect your kid.

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

Gen Ed Mom,

Was it the Spectrum program at your school or a few kids entering K late that frustrated you so much? I ask because I've seen your many posts detailing how Spectrum ruined a year of your daughter's schooling. So I'm surprised to see you now citing redshirting as the reason. Or, is it both? I'm trying to understand . . .

-NW momma

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I can explain the whole situation to you in a way that satisfies you NW Momma. My child found herself in a situation that was not a normal schooling situation. She was not with her peers, she was not learning anything, and she was given a number of negative labels, which she was well aware of. She was deeply unhappy, probably clinically depressed. She is not an unhappy person and I have never seen her so unhappy before or since that school year ended. The only suggestions from the school were to home school her or to give her a pass to leave the classroom on a regular basis at her will. We did homeschool her for a period of time and when she went back it was just as bad. I think there were many factors that went into the makeup of the class and the fact that the class she was in was pretty much ignored and not given the attention they deserved. I don't know for sure what all of those were, but I have some ideas. This is off topic and so it may be removed.

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

This topic makes my blood boil. I have a son who was born 17 hours after the cut-off. He wanted to go to kindergarten and we, his parents, and his preschool teacher felt he was ready. My son took the early entrance test and failed. Maybe this was an indication he wasn't ready, but I really doubt it. I think it's a school system that wants to keep boys out of school until they're older.

I specifically asked SPS if they were going to tell my son he was being tested. They said they wouldn't mention it to the kids, so I didn't tell my son. Why put pressure on him? The first thing out of the evaluator's mouth was that the kids were there for kindergarten testing. I didn't have a chance to explain anything to my son before he was literally marched off to the testing room.

The results letter reasons for not admitting my son was that he didn't know all the alphabet (upper and lower case), nor his address and phone number. At home, when I asked my son to write the alphabet on his own, he mixed up only two letters. For a kid who hasn't entered kindergarten yet, isn't that ok? And how could he know his address and phone number if we never taught him that? And as for those boy stereotypes that they can't sit still, well, my son can sit for hours working on projects. The whole thing was BS. But at the end of the day, I realized that even if he got in and then somehow got into APP, they'd make him repeat kindergarten which we'd never make him do.

Luckily his preschool teacher was very sympathetic and has continued to challenge my son in school. I can only hope he's as challenged when he enters kindergarten. Oh and on top of all this, we've actually heard our friends "jokingly" mention how we've redshirted our son. That couldn't be farther from the truth. I want my son to be challenged. I don't want him to be bored.

Sara said...

Um, Lynne, HECK YEAH the kids know AND CARE about what reading and math levels they are in compared to their friends. Our school, like everywhere has reader's and writer's workshop. We also have walk-to-math. Walk-to-math is a political crap-shoot as to whether your kid is placed there or not. There is no true ability placement. If you have a Spectrum label, you are automatically in, but other than that something fishy is going on behind the scenes.

My boy with an August birthday (who was born 7 weeks early) started school on time. The teacher would comment on how smart 'Johnny' was since he could was reading level H. For whatever reasons, "Johnny" was 15 months older than several other boys in the class who started on Level A books. Regular discussions were required with our boy letting him know that, no, you're not 'stupid' (his word) because you aren't on Level H. It got so bad that we finally said "Johnny" is on the appropriate reading level for his age. You shouldn't compare yourself to anyone else much less someone that much older than you.

So, Lynne, again, yes, they do care. Our school only has two classes per grade. Parents know each other well and each others' kids. It is a common complaint that kids are really upset.

Now, walk-to-math is a problem, too. The kids know who's in what grade math. Our school unfortunately uses the grade level math the kids are doing instead of some code like "red" or "blue herons". Kids (and some parents) go around asking kids what grade math they are in...And, YES, it bothers the kids who aren't in the higher math.

The placement into the math is another problem that doesn't fit into this thread. But, the walk-to classes are very well-populated by kids who happen to have parents on the PTA or who volunteer on a regular basis. High MAP scores mean nothing.

On another note, I know LOADS of SPS teachers who have sent their kids to K on time. I wonder if some of these comments are bogus.

Lynn said...

Sarae,

There is no need to be rude. It was an honest question - as this is something that hasn't come up with my kids. It sounds like your son's kindergarten teacher wasn't very good at her job. Comparing children/complimenting them on their reading skills (as compared to their classmates) is not ever appropriate.

It sounds like you do not approve of the Spectrum program at your school or walk to math. Are you of the opinion that every student in a grade should be taught at the same level at all times? If not, do you have suggestions for how the method of differentiation could be improved?

Lynn said...

2boysclub,

This is a late response, but I didn't want to ignore you in case you are still reading.

Here's my reasoning. I think our schools make age-inappropriate demands of five year old students. I don't think there's any chance those expectations would change if everyone enrolled their children in the "appropriate" year.

Parents are required to educate their children - not to send them to school. I would never voluntarily give the state (or the district) more control over my child than they already have. Their responsibility is to offer my child a basic education. I don't want them encroaching on my family life any further than that. That's one of the reasons I can't stand uniforms in public school and am not a fan of mandatory community service hours.

I agree that parents who are wealthier and/or more well-educated are likelier to consider waiting a year to enroll their child in kindergarten. That makes sense to me. They are more likely to be able to afford to stay home another year or to pay for another year of child care. (I kept my child home for social/emotional reasons rather than academic ones and I think that's generally the case.)

In the end, I thought my child needed another year of freedom more than he needed to enter kindergarten. If kindergarten had been a half day program I might have made another decision.

Anonymous said...

I love how parents have the option to redshirt their May and June kids when they are 5 years old but I cannot send my October kid to kindergarten even though he's more then ready. I ended up putting him in a private Christian school which is very expensive, but the only way he could go to kindergarten. He is excelling academically and maturity wise and is the leader of his class.

I am annoyed by how many parents redshirt their kids these days, and more annoyed by their reasons for doing it ("I want my child to be a leader" "I want her to have more time to mature" "I want her to be the smartest"). So being a leader means being the oldest, and not demonstrating qualities of a leader (i.e. standing up for a friend on the playground, helping the new kid sharpen a pencil)? And what CHILD is emotionally mature? They are children. They are supposed to be immature. And how is redshirting going to make them feel smarter when all the kids their age are above them doing more advanced work? Ok course if a 4th grader does 2nd grade work with 2nd graders, he will be the "smartest," but he won't be challenged enough. Education/ school is not a competition where parents can brag about how their child is great and doing better then everyone, it's to prepare a child to eventually work.

apparent said...

Arriving late to this thread, but here's our experience so far. Our younger child has a late October birthday, so she missed the August 31 SPS cutoff for kindergarten because she was still four years old.

In Seattle, if you have a September or October birthday, you can apply for early entrance testing to kindergarten, and because we knew she was ready we did apply. The first stage is a group class where they screen out kids who are not socially ready. Those who are socially ready are later given a one-on-one individual test with a school psychologist to see if they are academically ready and our daughter was accepted.

During her kindergarten year -- where she was by far the youngest beginning as a 4-year-old for a couple of months -- she did fine socially. As we anticipated she also tested in as APP eligible, although her eligibility letter also came with a note explaining that because of her young age she would still need to wait another full year before enrolling in APP 1st grade with her same-aged peers. (Until middle school APP does not accept any early entrants younger than their age-level peers, although in contrast Spectrum and ALO do allow such early entrants to move ahead to the next grade.)

So the next year she continued on and completed 1st grade in our neighborhood school with her older classmates, retaining her APP eligibility by participating in the ALO program in her 1st grade.

Then this school year she made the switch and is now completing 1st grade (for the second time) at APP at Lincoln, now as one of the older kids in her class. While some repetition was involved, APP math is certainly taught to her at a much more advanced level (although she is an exceptional reader and we do not feel she has been similarly challenged in her present classroom compared to her math instruction or even her old school reading groups).

Socially, switching schools always requires making new friends, but we're glad she joined APP at 1st grade with all the other new kids. Because she's not a big kid it's also nice for her now to be one of the older ones and no longer the smallest. She is really flourishing at school. She is also now going to the same school as her 4th grade brother, which works well for our family.

We are glad she followed the early entrant route she did. As some have already mentioned above, it allowed us to give her regular academic challenge and also, significantly for us, to avoid another full year of expensive preschool.

So for our daughter, starting early proved to be the right choice.

Anonymous said...

If there is competition to be in the high reading groups, I think it's weird that people don't seem to view it diachronically. My 7-year-old second grader (August, not redshirted) and his 9-year-old pal (April, redshirted) are in the same high level reading group in 2nd grade right now. But when my son is the age his buddy is now, my son will be in FOURTH GRADE! Comparatively speaking that will be a much higher reading group. I'm glad the buddy is there. My son needs someone to compete with and hang out with. This 9-year-old is a fast runner, a good sport and a good reader. Thank goodness they redshirted him or he wouldn't be in my son's class.