CINCINNATI - One of the most important days of your life if you're a parent is the first day of kindergarten. But some parents decide to delay the big day for a year. It's a growing trend called "redshirting".
Liz Messerschmitt and her husband are not alone in their decision to delay their son's kindergarten start a year because of his summer birthday.
"It was better to give him a little bit more confidence with reading and math and writing and just being able to sit still a little bit longer and just be a little bit more mature when he went to school," said Messerschmitt.
Mason Early Childhood Center Principal Melissa Bly says parents that choose to wait a year to send their children to kindergarten do so because they want to give their children somewhat of an advantage of being successful their kindergarten year.
But Bly says it's not proven that delaying kindergarten always benefits the student. And the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) agrees , stating there is little evidence that older children are more successful in kindergarten.
"One of the negatives to it because sometimes for parents at home if you have a 5-year-old that's not in kindergarten, you need find ways to maybe enrich them at home during that 5-year-old year," said Bly.
Brittany Terry of Northern Kentucky and her husband thought long and hard about when to start their son, ultimately choosing to wait until he's age six.
"I was worried about his self image and knowing that I'm the smallest in the class," said Terry. "I'm not the smartest in the class. I'm always going to struggle. I was worried that the fluke of his birthday would affect his self image... for the rest of his life."
Terry's fears are not unfounded. According to a 2010 Michigan State University study , nearly 1 million children in the United States are potentially misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder simply because they are the youngest and most immature in their kindergarten class.
Victoria Grooms and her husband started their son at age five, even though his school prefers boys to start at age six.
"I was a little concerned whether they would accept him because there is a testing involved and he was definitely one of the youngest ones who tested and he was accepted," Grooms said.
Terry says if teachers don't teach to the individual child, it could be detrimental.
"Teachers probably compare or get ability and maturity confused," Terry said. "Those kids who are mature and who are able get kind of fast-tracked, streamed, and that really carries on into high school and college.
What complicates this issue is, even if a parent thought their child wasn't ready for kindergarten, they may not have the financial means to keep them at home or in pre-school for another year.
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