PORTLAND -- The school year is coming to a close, but some parents are wrestling with a decision for next school year.
In increasing numbers students are ‘redshirting’ kindergarten, starting at age 6 rather than 5.
“It’s funny as a teacher to look around and realize some students in the class are a full year older than others,” said Kate Gobel, a teacher at Cathedral Kindergarten.
The practice has tripled since the 1970s. A CBS report says nearly a quarter of some kindergarten classrooms are populated by 6-year-olds.
“Sometimes holding a student back and letting them grow and mature is a good choice,” said Cooper Mountain Kindergarten teacher Deborah Henderson.
Research is divided. One University of Toronto study showed older students ended up in higher reading groups, but a Princeton University study concluded holding a child back may hinder his ability to take on challenges later in life.
Parents often turn to teachers when trying to make the decision to redshirt their child.
Henderson says it requires a balance of social and academic factors.
“A child should have some knowledge of letters and their sounds, as well as some numbers and a sense of counting,” said Henderson.
Gobel uses social factors as her benchmark.
“Does the child get along with other kids? Can they solve some of their own problems and do they know when to go to an adult for help?” She said.
Both teachers agree each child is different and there’s no set standard for determining whether to redshirt a child.