Friday, February 11, 2011

Redshirting @ School

My son is only three, but we're already thinking about which school he's going to go to and when. Having a January baby gives you the classic double-edged sword: we get to choose if we want him to start kindergarten when he's four or five. Sometimes it's just easier not to have the choice! Or, does it really matter?

I once visited a Kindergarten class where there was a boy that, upon initial interactions and having no background information, I perceived to be well above the rest of the class intellectually. In commenting on this boy's superior knowledge base and abilities in the classroom, I was informed that he is repeating Kindergarten. This decision was made solely by the family, against the advice of the teacher. Sure enough, in the months to come, this child was clearly becoming bored. Yes, he could read better than his peers, was physically bigger, and produced more impressive work. But what did it all mean? It all lead to a conversation about his family's choice to hold him back. In questioning their reasoning, I came to somewhat of a redshirting conclusion myself.

I guess I'll never know. He ended up spending about an hour a day in a grade one class anyway. My guess is that next year he'll be spending an hour in a grade two room, and so on...

In making this decision for my child, I'm shooting for engagement. In general, he's more engaged by older children and their ideas so why not put him with these children, even though he'll be the youngest and smallest. Heck, maybe he'll even be one of the smartest. Ultimately, if teachers are cultivating truly inclusive classrooms with developmentally appropriate practice, all students can grow and learn.

The Problem with Holding Kids Back from Kindergarten (until they're bigger and smarter) by Kristina Dell:

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