Redshirting Boys Heading into Kindergarten: Understanding the Pros and Cons

As parents prepare their young children for the transition to kindergarten, an increasing number are faced with the decision of whether to “redshirt” their boys, meaning to delay their entry into kindergarten for a year. Redshirting has become a topic of debate among parents, educators, and experts, with varying opinions on its benefits and drawbacks. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of redshirting, understand the reasons parents consider this option, and delve into the potential advantages and disadvantages associated with this decision.

What is Redshirting?

Redshirting is the practice of holding a child back from starting kindergarten at the typical age and enrolling them a year later when they are older. This term originated in sports, where college athletes were allowed to sit out their first year to gain an extra year of eligibility. In the context of education, redshirting has become a way for parents to give their child an extra year of physical, emotional, and academic maturity before entering formal schooling.

Boys vs Girls

The development of children is a fascinating and dynamic process, influenced by a multitude of factors. One area of interest that often captures attention is the comparison of boys’ and girls’ development. While it’s essential to recognize that every child is unique and may not fit stereotypical gender norms, research has explored certain trends and differences in various aspects of development between boys and girls. In this article, we will delve into some of the general patterns observed in cognitive, physical, emotional, and social development, keeping in mind that individual variations always prevail. Let’s explore the intriguing world of boys versus girls’ development and gain insights into how children of different genders grow and thrive in their own distinctive ways.

Cognitive Development: On average, boys and girls tend to perform similarly in cognitive development during early childhood. However, research suggests that girls may develop language skills slightly earlier than boys, while boys may excel in spatial reasoning and certain mathematical abilities.

Physical Development: Boys often show a higher level of physical activity and gross motor skills development compared to girls. They may be more inclined to engage in rough-and-tumble play and demonstrate greater strength and coordination.

Emotional Development: Boys and girls may display different emotional expressions and coping mechanisms. Girls may be more verbally expressive and tend to seek emotional support, while boys may be encouraged to be stoic and less likely to express vulnerability openly.

Social Development: Girls tend to be more socially oriented, forming smaller, intimate friendship groups, and engaging in cooperative play. Boys, on the other hand, may prefer larger, activity-based playgroups and engage in more competitive play.

Academic Achievement: Research on academic achievement shows that girls generally outperform boys in reading and language-related subjects, while boys may have an advantage in certain spatial and mathematical tasks. However, it’s essential to remember that individual differences play a significant role in academic performance.

Reasons for Redshirting Boys

Parents may consider redshirting their boys for various reasons, including:

Developmental Readiness: Some boys may not be developmentally ready for the academic and social demands of kindergarten at the typical age.

Physical Size: Boys may be physically smaller or less coordinated than their peers, making them feel overwhelmed or disadvantaged.

Social Skills: Redshirting provides an additional year for boys to develop essential social skills, potentially reducing challenges related to behavior and peer interactions.

Academic Advantages: An extra year of pre-kindergarten or informal learning can give boys a head start in academic skills, leading to potential advantages in the early years of formal education.

The Pros of Redshirting

While the decision to redshirt a child is deeply personal and depends on individual circumstances, some potential benefits include:

Enhanced School Readiness: Redshirted boys may have a better chance of starting kindergarten with greater confidence and academic readiness.

Improved Social Adjustment: The extra year can allow boys to develop emotional maturity and social skills, leading to smoother transitions and positive peer interactions.

Academic Advantage: Redshirted boys may initially outperform their younger peers academically, giving them a sense of accomplishment and fostering a positive attitude towards learning.

The Cons of Redshirting

However, redshirting is not without its drawbacks, such as:

Stigma and Peer Relations: Redshirted boys may face challenges related to being older than their classmates, which could affect their self-esteem and social dynamics.

Long-Term Effects: Research suggests that any academic advantage gained through redshirting diminishes over time, leveling out by the end of elementary school.

Opportunity Cost: Delaying kindergarten may mean missing out on a year of formal education, leading to a later start in the academic journey.


Ultimately, the decision to redshirt a boy heading into kindergarten is a complex one that requires careful consideration of individual factors and needs. While redshirting can provide certain advantages in the short term, it’s essential to weigh these benefits against potential long-term effects and the unique characteristics of each child. Consultation with educators and professionals can help parents make an informed choice that best supports their child’s overall development and school readiness. The goal should be to create an environment where boys can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally, setting them on a path of lifelong learning and success.