Friday, December 10, 2010

The opposite of red-shirting

For the past few years, it's become quite popular to "red-shirt" kindergartners, especially boys. The idea is that if kids start school a little later, they'll be academically more advanced and do better (and kids who are bigger and more coordinated will do better athletically). In some cases, this may be true. School districts have been quite open to following parental directive on this front.

They have been less open, however, to going the other way, and letting a child start kindergarten early. I'm not quite sure why, but even children who just miss the fall cut-off and can demonstrate, say, an ability to read at a much higher grade level, encounter an uphill battle getting an exception.

So I'm glad to see that Colorado is at least creating a pathway for parents to request an early acceleration. According to this article in the Canon City Daily Record, parents can request testing, get a recommendation from a preschool teacher and make their case. The school district is quick to point out that only children scoring in the 98th percentile or higher should do this, but at least they are acknowledging that in some cases it's a good idea!

Obviously, in some cases it isn't too. Many gifted children rather enjoy preschool because it tends to be more flexible, and less about everyone in the class doing the same thing at the same time. But starting kindergarten early is one of the best ways to do acceleration, because it gets it out of the way early, and then (barring the need for more acceleration... which, of course, can happens with PG kids!) children can keep going along with the same cohort.


Anonymous said...

Early entry into kindergarten and 1st grade doesn't happen in Georgia because state law prevents it. Students must be 5 as of Sept. 1st to enter kindergarten and 6 to enter first grade. No exceptions.

I inquired when my 4 year old was reading at the 5th grade level and missed the cutoff by a number of days. She was denied entry to kindergarten. Parents who can afford it will find an accommodating private school and send their child there for K and 1 and then transfer into public school at 2nd grade.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

California recently passed the Kindergarten Readiness Act, which raised the age of kindergarteners, by moving the birthday cutoff. The legislation does allow early entry, but few districts actually have a policy in place that allows it.

lgm said...

Here in NY, most districts have a Dec birthday cutoff. Sept-Dec entry is optional. Older boys who wait increase their chances of getting in to the honors program.

There are other issues that go along with being grade skipped into a group lesson all day with children a year or two older. PE is a one..the child won't qualify for adapted PE b/c s/he is appropriate for her age, but the grade level PE may be beyond the current level of physical development. Then there are all the emotional needs and the hw load. And do remember, the child is expected to keep up with other children equally or more highly gifted who are 1-2 years older, unskipped, and afterschooled. That's a tall order if the child isn't highly or profoundly gifted and receiving excellent counseling.

mmm said...

My son's birthday is just 16 days after the AZ standard cutoff of August 31st. Thankfully the charter schools are more flexible and will test and accept kids who pass a test.

We hardly notice the age difference between him and the other kids. He's in 1st grade this year and he's the youngest boy and the second tallest boy in his class. The tallest boy turned 7 just 2 weeks after my son turned 6.

We're glad he got in when he did, he tested into the gifted program in the spring of kindergarten year. His reading is off the charts. We wanted to get him IN at 4 rather than try to skip a grade later down the road. It worked.

Almost every other person I know would rather hold a boy with an August or September birthday back a year.

joano4boys said...

In NJ the individual district can make that decision, but rarely choose early entry.

I agree that there should be some kind of on-going counselling. There is very little info for teachers on how to assimilate (and when not to) a younger child into an older group.

The concept of gym class,etc., being an issue misses the mark since the range of physical ability is so wide spread within any age group. Good teachers can accomodate that. When the principal wanted my son to skip the 5th grade the teachers pointed out that he was short. I asked if they'd be holding back all of the students who didnt meet the 6th grade height requirements.