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Some Parents Consider 'Red-Shirting' Kindergartners

Some Parents Consider 'Red-Shirting' Kindergartners



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Paul Nelson, KSL NewsradioSome parents say there's a way to possibly give their kid a boost before they enter kindergarten. But not all educators recommend it.

Five-year-old Bradley Thornton seems to be advancing pretty well.

His mother, Cindy Thornton, said, "He reads books. He's emotionally mature. He's physically mature for his age. He is a very good learner, and he's a good problem solver."

Cindy feels he is qualified to start kindergarten, but the state says he's not.

"The people who actually know Bradley, the parents and even the employees at the elementary school that know him are shocked when they find out he's not even in kindergarten," Thornton said.

She says some people are suggesting she "red-shirt" Bradley. That's when parents hold back a child from entering kindergarten even though the child is eligible. Educators say it has been done for years, and it happens for a number of reasons.

Jordan School District Elementary Literacy Consultant Kathy Ridd said, "It's based more on parents being concerned about their children not being mature enough or very shy."

However, recent reports say more parents are red-shirting their child even if they perform well. Educators say parents may believe some kids who are advanced may stand out ahead of their classmates even more with another year of social and educational growth under their belts. Ridd says it doesn't always work, though.

"Some students who were the older students coming in were moving along faster, but some who were older still struggled. It just depends on the student," Ridd said.

Nationwide, reports say only about 9 percent of kindergartners go through red-shirting. Ridd says, from what she's seen, not many Utahns are trying this. Matter of fact, she says the trend is quite the opposite.

"[Parents are] asking if there was a test to be able to take [for students] to get in a year earlier than they normally would be," Ridd explained.

These students are other kids like Bradley Thornton, who was born only one day after the Sep. 1 deadline. There is no test that would allow him to get into kindergarten now, and that's frustrating his mother, Cindy.

"If parents are allowed to be intelligent enough to determine their child is not ready for kindergarten, it seem like there should be some leeway for those students who are ready," she said.

Educators say if they let one kid in kindergarten after the deadline, then that will open the door for lots of other kids who didn't make the deadline, either.

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