The practice of ‘redshirting’ kindergarten (holding kids back one year before they enter) has been the source of media histrionics over the last few years. Media reports usually presume parents redshirt so their children gain academic and leadership advantage over younger, less developed, more impulsive classmates. This theory developed after the popularity of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, in which he discussed the landmark study indicating the power of age in Junior Hockey leagues in Canada.
Quite a few studies have been done regarding the impact of redshirting. A 2005 RAND study indicated the practice has benefit to reading skills in the first grade. However, a 2008 study by Harvard’s Dyanarski and Deming indicate there is not really a lasting, positive effect to redshirting – the benefits gap closes at about third grade. A 2000 study indicates there may even be some negative effect on behavior, especially for boys. A Canadian study even indicated benefit to “greenshirting” (starting school at a younger age). Finally, a study in Pediatrics journal of Icelandic middle schoolers indicated the practice may lead to higher ADHD prescription rates as the non-redshirted children seem hyperactive in comparison.
Important stuff, right? Maybe not. A March 2012 paper examining the practice found the incidences of redshirting nation-wide are much smaller than media reports seem to indicate (surprise surprise).
The exciting news is that another paper appears to be in the works. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for the results.