what is up with red shirting

Red Shirting is the practice of holding late birthday kids back so that they benefit from being the oldest in the class. There is always heated debate about if it is really a good idea or not. My kids (girls) have late Nov. birthdays and I was clueless -and desperate to get them into free kindergarten. They started K as old fours and never looked back. In general, someone has to be the youngest, no matter what the cutoff date. It is very important that there not be too large an age spread in the k classroom. For a child who is appears to be fairly school ready, being younger isn't really an issue in my experience. The problem is that there are exceptions; very small or shy kids, or kids with other special needs who really may not be ready. I really feel for these families, who are not trying to give their kids some imaginary edge, but are really fighting for what is necessary for their children to thrive in their first academic year.
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I answered a question on Park Slope Parents about a child with a late fall birthday whose parents were interested in waiting a year for kindergarten. It seemed to be helpful so I am posting it here.

The age cut off in NYC is Dec. 31. Any child that turns five years from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 is eligible for kindergarten. Some parents feel that their children are not ready for kindergarten at five and want to wait to enroll them in public school. Starting a six year old child in kindergarten is not completely the parent’s choice.

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