If you're not sure your child is ready to transition from an unstructured daycare or home care setting to preschool, or from preschool to kindergarten, you may be considering "redshirting" your child -- delaying his or her entrance into the next level of education for a year to allow needed emotional growth to take place. However, there are a few factors you'll want to consider to ensure you make the best decision for your child, as well as a few situations in which redshirting may not be the best idea. Read on for the questions you'll want to ask yourself when enrolling your child for preschool or kindergarten.
Is your child reaching milestones at the appropriate pace?
If your child is generally on track with developmental milestones, it's possible that an extra year before (or in) preschool could lead to boredom and frustration. Preschool and kindergarten programs are incredibly important, as they set the tone for a child's entire education. If your child is frustrated with material that is designed for younger children, it may be more difficult to foster a healthy relationship with school going forward.
On the other hand, if your child struggles to reach certain milestones, or could use some more practice in a certain key area (like potty training, social interaction, or motor skills), he or she could benefit from being the oldest in daycare or his or her preschool class. By interacting with younger children on a regular basis, your child will gain self esteem and independence as he or she reaches milestones at his or her own pace.
Can your child handle a more structured educational environment?
Although preschool and kindergarten tend to be less structured than elementary education, they still require certain skills and abilities -- like the ability to sit still for more than a few seconds, to listen to and obey directions, and to interact pleasantly with teachers and classmates. If you're not sure your child will be able to sit still in class, or if you fear your child will be disruptive, redshirting may help your child mature enough to handle these skills next year.
Will your child be given the opportunity to catch up later?
Children each develop and learn at their own pace, and some children may thrive so quickly that they are ready to rejoin their same-age classmates. You'll want to talk to the administration of the school system your child will be attending to see whether such a transfer is possible or permissible. If it will be easier to hold your child back than to skip your child forward, you may want to put off redshirting until your child has had a chance to experience the more structured school day.