Redshirting

I set rules for blog comments a long time ago. There are only two, so it’s nice and easy. Here goes.

  1. No vulgarities, name-calling or cyber-bullying of any kind will be tolerated.
  2. All comments must be respectful to both writer and readers. There are ways to disagree without sinking into condescension or degradation. I suggest you employ those more civil methods.

You may only comment on this blog if you follow the rules. Any comments made that violate the rules will be deleted. I have the final word on what constitutes adherence to these rules. (It is my blog, after all.)

Why am I reminding you of these? Because I’m about to launch a discussion on politics and current events.

I know, I know! *GASP! HORROR!* I’m breaking all those peaceful “mommy blogger” standards. The fact is a few issues have arisen over the past two weeks that I cannot ignore. They say the only taboo topics in society are politics and religion. Well, I talk about religion in nearly every post, so I might as well throw myself under the gauntlet here.

Be prepared: my version of politics is likely not what one might expect. I rarely see things as wholly black or white. As a result, I don’t want to talk about politicians or sides. I don’t want to start a debate. I simply want to present my perspective and engage in a conversation that will, hopefully, produce a fuller understanding for all of us. That includes considering alternative views. Just remember to stick to the rules.

Oh, and here’s a new rule:

Everyone has the right to change his or her mind. No holding past opinions captive or using them as weapons against that person, including me.

Some of the posts on this blog go back five years. I hope we’ve all grown and changed in that time, so no rummaging through the archives to quote me back to me. Got it? Cool.

Preamble over. Let’s start with an easy one.

Redshirting

On Sunday night 60 Minutes aired a segment on redshirting. (Click here to view the piece or read the script.) Redshirting is intentionally holding a child back in school in order to give them a greater advantage. This parenting technique is on the rise, but not because of academic standards. It is becoming increasingly common because parents want their kids to be more competitive. They want them to have a leg up on the rest of their class, to be bigger, older, smarter and more athletic than the other kids. They want leaders and will get them by providing a head start.

Have you seen this where you are? It has become predominant where we live. (In fact, one of the families interviewed for the piece lives in the town next to us.)

We faced this decision with Zach. He has an August birthday and has always been one of the youngest in his class. We prayed and met with his preschool teacher on several occasions to decide whether or not he should go to kindergarten at five or if we should wait until he was six. He was sounding out words at age four and has always fit in just fine socially. We could see no reasons to hold him back. In fact, we saw more reasons not to hold him back, like him potentially losing interest in academics or being bored, both of which could result in distraction and behavior problems.

Now in first grade, he is 6 years old and has classmates that turn 8 before he turns 7. In preschool, every class held the same age. Come kindergarten, all seems to be fair game. But I don’t think it’s so fair. Not to my kid and certainly not to theirs.

Let me reiterate: this huge age span (with few exceptions) is not about academic skills or abilities. It’s not even about social development. It’s about competition and social dynamics. The span exists because parents believe that age offers advantage. And maybe they’re right.

Our son is competing with kids up to 20 months older than him for the same grades, the same positions, the same sports teams. Have we completely ruined any hope he may have had as a professional athlete? Have we destroyed his chance of being top in his class and going on to an Ivy League school? Have we increased the inequality simply because we followed the rules?

The 60 Minutes piece talked about pros and cons to redshirting, but it didn’t leave too many options for those of us who must face the “redshirts.” We can’t reverse time and it would be detrimental to hold him back now. Fortunately, Zach is doing great. I’m not really worried about him. He’s smart, he’s popular, he’s a leader when he wants to be. But I still wonder.

I wonder about the long-term repercussions.

What do you think? 

Later this week I’m going to talk about legal impediments to in-home Bible studies and after-birth abortions.

Talk to me!

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