More parents opting to 'redshirt' their kids from kindergarten — but does it help?

There’s a controversy about delaying kids from kindergarten to ensure they’re mentally ready.

TEMPE, Ariz. - You’ve likely heard of redshirting in sports and now, it’s being used in the school setting.

Dozens of parents are being faced with the decision to start their children in kindergarten at a younger or older age.

So is there an advantage to holding younger ones back?

Researchers at Arizona State University are staying on top of the development in early childhood education and say it appears that more parents are buying into the redshirting trend.

Jessica Perkins' son, Kian Patrick, loves to be silly, make new friends and play with his mama.

“He’s well behaved," Perkins said. "He loves to learn, but he likes to have fun and he’s a typical 3-and-a-half-year-old."

Even though Kian is already in a structured pre-school at a young age and thriving, Perkins says she’s in no rush to put him in kindergarten.

“He’s a January baby, so he falls in an odd age range," Perkins said. "So we could start him at 4-and-a-half, 5-and-a-half or 6-and-a-half."

And after researching local kindergartens, Perkins didn’t like what she found for her son, if she were to start him younger.

“Kindergarteners with homework and no nap time, I want him to be a child," she said. "I want him to enjoy himself.”

Megan Pratt, ASU assistant research professor, says redshirting a child from kindergarten may not help much in the long run but it's different in the short-term.

“(It) does give a child an advantage socially or academically, however this advantage does appear to fade by the time they’re in later elementary school grades," Pratt said.

Early on, older students may perform better, but Pratt says all students eventually catch up. On the other hand, she says parents who are concerned about their child having developmental delays could lose precious schooling.

“By delaying their school entry a year, they may also be delaying really important identification of delay or disability that will help them get coordinated with services and individualized supports," Pratt said.

And research points to increasing demands from parents -- like Perkins -- choosing to wait.

“I like the idea of him starting college at a later age and already being a little more mature to focus better and succeed," Perkins said.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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