Redshirting: Pros and Cons of Delaying a Child’s Entry to Kindergarten

By | Nesca Notes 2023

By: Alissa Talamo, PhD
Pediatric Neuropsychologist, NESCA

Redshirting is a phrase that has traditionally been associated with college athletics, such as when coaches “redshirt” first-year athletes, providing younger athletes an additional year to develop skills and extend their playing eligibility. Academically, redshirting your child means choosing to delay kindergarten for a year even though your child is technically old enough to attend kindergarten.

Current research suggests there are pros and cons to redshirting kindergarten depending upon your child’s development and needs. One advantage of redshirting is the opportunity for the child to develop emotional maturity. While some students are ready academically, they may not be ready emotionally. This difference becomes particularly notable in the middle school and high school years, as a year difference in age (or almost two years if some students have been redshirted and your child is young for their grade), can lead to exposure to topics and behaviors your child is not emotionally ready for.

However, if your child has an identified or suspected disability, or you feel they may need extra help in school, you may not want to redshirt, as doing so would result in delay of necessary services provided free through the public schools (e.g., occupational or speech therapy, specialized academic instruction), which research finds to have a meaningful impact on improving a student’s long-term outcome. Additionally, if redshirted, a child loses up to a year of special education eligibility at the other end of their school experience if a student has significant disabilities covered under the IDEA, as those services end based on age (e.g., special education rights end at the age of 22 in Massachusetts).

To help you make an informed decision, it is also recommended that you speak with your child’s preschool teacher in addition to any professionals (e.g., speech therapist or psychologist) working with your child. You may also want to consider meeting with an educational consultant who specializes in this area. Finally, you may consider a neuropsychological evaluation to gain a better understanding of your child’s strengths and challenges as well as to obtain educational recommendations.

Clearly, there is no right or wrong answer to redshirting in kindergarten. It is highly dependent on a child’s level of development and needs. Parents are encouraged to watch for signs of readiness, such as the ability of their child to communicate and listen well, follow instructions, and be able to sit and focus for 10-15 minutes at a time. Also, having a good understanding of your child’s developmental profile (language skills, self-regulation skills, social skills, etc.) can help a parent make an educated decision.







About the Author

With NESCA since its inception in 2007, Dr. Talamo had previously practiced for many years as a child and adolescent clinical psychologist before completing postdoctoral re-training in pediatric neuropsychology at the Children’s Evaluation Center.

After receiving her undergraduate degree from Columbia University, Dr. Talamo earned her doctorate in clinical health psychology from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University.

She has given a number of presentations, most recently on “How to Recognize a Struggling Reader,” “Supporting Students with Working Memory Limitations,” (with Bonnie Singer, Ph.D., CCC-SLP of Architects for Learning ), and “Executive Function in Elementary and Middle School Students.”

Dr. Talamo specializes in working with children and adolescents with language-based learning disabilities including dyslexia, attentional disorders, and emotional issues. She is also interested in working with highly gifted children.

Her professional memberships include MAGE (Massachusetts Association for Gifted Education), IDA (International Dyslexia Association), MABIDA (the Massachusetts division of IDA) and MNS (the Massachusetts Neuropsychological Society).

She is the mother of one college-aged daughter.

To book a consultation with Dr. Talamo or one of our many other expert neuropsychologists, complete NESCA’s online intake form.

NESCA is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton and Plainville, Massachusetts, Londonderry, New Hampshire, and Burlington, Vermont, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.