Redshirting; it's common practice for a competitive edge in college sports, and now educators are seeing it when it comes to kids starting school.
"In sports it's when you wait for children to get a little older, so they're going to be the bigger and the better on the sports teams. And it's being applied right now to kindergarten," said Laurel Bongiorno, an early childhood expert at Champlain College.
In many Vermont communities, kids must be 5 by Sept. 1 to enroll in kindergarten. But some parents are opting out-- waiting an additional year for their kids to turn 6, hoping it will give their youngsters an edge in the classroom.
"Kindergarten now looks a lot more like first grade and first grade was sort of for 6 and 7-year-olds, and now we're asking 5-year-olds to do that," Bongiorno said.
Moms outside the Shelburne Community School Friday had mixed views on the idea. Some see the benefit to 5-year-olds starting their time at school together.
"As much as a child can be with her age mates who are socially and emotionally her same age, I think it's important," said Krista Reincke, a parent.
Others, like mom of two Karen Smith, admit that all kids are different and that a little more time at home could be helpful.
"I think it definitely depends on the kid," she said. "I can understand why parents would feel that way."
Smith says her daughter was on the older end of her kindergarten class and that she has seen benefits.
"I have, definitely in terms of leadership, her feeling more confident with her learning. I think you have to look at each kid individually," Smith said.
Bongiorno says the trend sheds light on the larger issue of what kids are learning, when, and the new pressures teachers face to meet students' needs and educators' expectations.
"How do they deal with what the first-grade teachers want them to do and how do they remain true to what a 5-year-old child can," Bongiorno said.
Right now Vermont law requires kids to be enrolled in school from ages 6-16.
We tried to find out how many Vermont kids are redshirted, but the state education department does not track what age students begin kindergarten.
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