redshirting your child

Small For Their Age: Redshirting Your Child

Randy Newman’s hit song “Short People” was recorded in 1977. Many of his songs are told from the view of an unreliable narrator, but one verse sticks out with an undeniable truth:

Short people are just the same as you and I
All men are brothers until the day they die
(It’s a wonderful world)

We won’t get into the other verses of the song—which may not be the most politically correct by today’s standards… That said, the references to diversity and community in the above quote supports one of the core beliefs of Oak Village Academy. That said, height or weight (or any other physical, emotional or mental concerns) can be very real for some parents and their children. It’s no laughing matter, but rather something that parents and their pediatricians pay close attention to. It often leads parents to question whether redshirting your child is a good idea.

redshirting [ red-shur-ting ]

the practice of delaying a child from starting school for one year, believed by some parents to give the child academic, athletic and social advantages

The decision to redshirt—or hold a child back a year in preschool—is a very personal decision for many families. Below we discuss some of the factors that might go into such a conversation… And surprisingly none reference the size of a child.

Do We Obsess About Height/Weight?

Upon every visit to the doctor’s office, the first thing to expect is a height and weight check. We see the chart prominently displayed in the exam room… with the “average” child’s weight and height highlighted.  Most parents hope their child falls within the average… Some secretly hope their children are above average (or maybe even below for weight). Parents even carry stress over from the last pediatrician visit, when the doctor told them their child was slightly skewed either way. Since then, maybe you were obsessing over your child’s eating habits… being mindful trying not to introduce new foods too quickly… and making sure you packed a lunch your child would eat.  

Some parents can be downright obsessive about their children’s growth and physical development… Social media does not help. And the comparisons can get downright outrageous, if not a little over-the-top.

“My child starting walking at 18 months.”

“Oh, wow, that’s late, mine started walking at 13 months.”

“Hold my beer,” says one dad… “My boy started lifting weights before he could walk!”

Eyes roll… but soon parents are at it again:  

“My son can eat a whole slice of pizza…”

“Ha, my daughter can eat an entire pie!”

Without going into the merits of who won the above conversations (#DoesItReallyMatter), there are a few matters to consider when making preschool enrollment decisions, including redshirting your child. But height and weight are generally not included.

The Issue Is Not Size

Let’s face it: All kids are different, and a child’s size should not be the sole factor when deciding whether to start preschool. Parents should “weigh” several factors, such as the social and emotional maturity of their child. Are there benefits to waiting an additional year if you believe your child is not ready in that regard? Of course. There is ample research that shows children born in the early months of the year may have a slight physical, cognitive and social advantage over children born in November or December. Clearly, nine or 10 months of development is amplified more for children ages 2-12 than, say, when you get to be 40. Instead of looking solely at a child’s age, we like to focus on other factors. Because the mantra holds true: Age is just a number.

Potty Training

The size of a child usually has nothing to do with whether they are potty trained. Children attending preschool are usually potty trained for the most part. Although, no worries… we know that accidents sometimes do happen.

Emotionally Ready

One of the key factors when considering redshirting is a child’s ability to cope with separation from their parents. A good indicator of readiness is a child’s ability to say goodbye. Most children will naturally experience some anxiety during the first days of preschool, which may last for about week. However, the willingness to make friends and enjoy the daily activities without separation anxiety is a key indicator for preschool readiness.  

Stamina

At Oak Village Academy, our students spend a lot of time outdoors, which means they are very active. The daily preschool schedule allows for rest time after lunch. Most preschools do not have morning naptime. Therefore, if your child is still taking a morning nap they may not be ready for preschool just yet.

Independence

Most preschool activities require a certain amount of independence from students. This includes things such as being able to play games, draw a picture or do group activities. Outdoors, we might have the students search for a specific type of leaf.

Being able to eat independently is another sign they may be ready. Cooking a four-course meal is not required for preschool… though some two year olds have already mastered making lasagna! #Goals

Language Ability

Some call it expressibility, which is the ability of a student to both understand instructions and express themselves either verbally or nonverbally. We certainly do not expect students to speak at an advanced level with a vocabulary similar to the national spelling bee champion. But having the ability to understand simple directions such as, “Let’s sit down,” “Follow me” and “It’s time for lunch.” These are things that we expect our students to understand… along with being able to express when they have to go to the bathroom, are hurting or when something is bothering them.

Communication Is Key

At Oak Village Academy, we welcome new parents at any time. If you have any questions or concerns about whether your child is preschool ready, please feel free to contact us, visit our online gallery or arrange to take a tour of our campus.