Some parents 'redshirt' as TN law moves kindergarten cutoff date - WSMV Channel 4

Some parents 'redshirt' as TN law moves kindergarten cutoff date

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The start of school for kindergartners this fall will all come down to a birthdate. A new state law is bumping up the cutoff date, and parents are now trying to decide whether to hold their children back or not.

The new law states any child attending kindergarten must be 5 years old by Aug. 31, which is a month earlier than in years past.

"You often times do see big differences in the abilities and developmentally readiness of children that are just turning 5 Sept. 30," said Granbery Elementary Principal Lori Donahue.

Amy Wingo's birthday was on the cusp of the enrollment cutoff, and she said starting school early had effects that stayed with her into college.

"Immaturity, maybe. Didn't have the study habits of someone that was older," Wingo said.

Now, she has decided to hold her own daughter back a year.

"In her preschool class now, she is the oldest, and I feel like it is great. I feel like she thrives and she helps the others," Wingo said.

The practice of holding a child back is called "redshirting," and some parents think it's best to give their kids a leg-up on sports while others try to avoid bullying by allowing more time to develop their social skills in pre-K.

"I think it has to do with each family and what they think is best," said parent Rachel Goodson.

Educators feel that extra time really is precious to prepare kids for that leap into kindergarten where they're going to have to be more independent.

"It's different now from even when I was in kindergarten, because they do move pretty fast now and homework and things like that," Goodson said.

Students at that age must know letters and numbers and how to read on their own by the end of the year, but there are some exceptions to the new rule.

"If children are enrolled in a Metro pre-K, they're automatically grandfathered into kindergarten," Donahue said.

Parents can also appeal for an assessment test.

"And those that make the cut score will be admitted to kindergarten," Donahue said.

Otherwise, parents may be left with the expense of another year of day care or a repeat of pre-K.

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