Should you redshirt your preschooler?
Maybe, based on new research that indicates the oldest kids in the class – those born in September – score better on annual benchmark tests.
The recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research looked at the cognitive development of some 1.2 million Florida public school students aged 6 to 15. The researchers found that kids born in September, which put them at the older end of the class, had higher average test scores than classmates born in August, who would be the youngest in the class.
These higher scores could build over time and perhaps boost the September-born kids’ chance of winning a spot at a top college, according to the report. The study data also indicates that being an older member of the class reduces a child’s chance of incarceration for a juvenile crime.
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Of course, the study authors note, your birthday is not your destiny. This is where redshirting comes into play. Parents of preschoolers with late birthdays can choose to hold their child back a year so they start school as one of the older kids. (The term redshirting comes from college athletics where freshman players are sometimes kept off the active roster to give them time to develop without using a year of eligibility. These players once wore red shirts in practice.)
This research should help reduce the second-guessing or embarrassment some parents feel when they redshirt their preschooler. It seems there is a substantial and scientific case for making that call.