More parents are “redshirting” their children, especially boys, by delaying kindergarten enrollment for a year reports the Chicago Tribune:
Another rough indicator, the percentage of boys starting kindergarten at about age 6 or older has gone up, from 7 percent of boys in 1970 to 18 percent in 2001, according to calculations by the U.S. Department of Education. The number of girls starting kindergarten at about age 6 or older has gone up, too, but from 5 percent in 1970 to a relatively modest 10 percent in 2001.
Redshirting is far more common in affluent areas, where parents have high expectations for their children and can afford another year of preschool.
Does it help?
The 1997 (Pediatrics) study co-authored by pediatrician Robert S. Byrd found that teenagers who were older than their classmates because they had started school late were more likely to have behavioral problems than kids who had started on time.
However, these may have been children held back because of immaturity, not just age. Another researcher claims five-year-old boys are two years behind girls in fine motor skills.
The increasing academic focus of kindergarten is blamed, but there was a lot of redshirting of boys in Palo Alto when my daughter started kindergarten — on time — 20 years ago. I noticed as a classroom volunteer that the girls were way ahead of the boys in their ability to write, draw and stay focused on desk work.