Red Shirting {AKA Giving Your Child a Simple and Free Boost of Confidence…}

When it was time to have our first child, we knew we didn’t want a summer baby as both of our birthdays fell in August. As an adult, a summer birthday became way more fun, but making the decision to move a child forward in school or hold them back wasn’t a decision we wanted to make. God blessed us with a baby boy on June 15, 2012. It’s the start of summer, right? He’s good to go ahead? He’s kind, loving, smart? He’s a follower, hates losing, always wants to be first at everything?

I was born into a very large family. We have a lot of summer birthdays AND educators who like to impose their opinions too. “Holding any child back is the best. First kids don’t need to be held back. If you have two close in age, they could be a grade apart.” The comments and opinions never end. Questions from other parents never end too. Sadly, comments from the kids wanting to know, “Why is he still in PK,” haven’t stopped either.

Research. All I can say is read and inform yourself and decide what’s best for your child. I began researching as soon as I found out I was having a summer baby. I read every book I could get my hands on about motherhood, parenting, redshirting and you name it. “Step on the scale backwards at the doctor’s appointments after the second trimester” was one of my favorite lines.

I think the comments and things I read that best stuck with me through all the decisions were these and I want to share them to help you and your family to make a good decision. I have two best friends who are an entire year younger than me, but definitely placed higher in our class rank than I did as the oldest. I stumbled upon this article in the New Yorker, and it cited a study where the younger kids in the class scored higher on tests than the oldest in the class because they try harder to be the best. This rang true for my son’s dad, as he was not held back and graduated at the top of his class.

I was held back and, well, I can say I enjoy sliding into home plate. Everyone can’t be the best? It’s okay to be the middle, right? I am the middle child!

Another comment that hit hard from a local psychologist was to be careful that your spot hasn’t been sold because the schools are businesses and do know where each child should be. If you feel strongly about your child going ahead and the educators do not, you need to let them know because they place the kids for the next year early on to fill the open spots.

In the end, we held our son back to give him the chance to be a leader. We want him to thrive and make those goals at The Fly, be the quarterback his school has produced over and over, encourage his friends in high school to go to youth group at St. Charles Presbyterian Church and not the weekend parties we all hear about. We want to be the parents with the leading child too!

With the school year ending, he is asking to skip Kindergarten and go on to First Grade. I think I’m going to remind him that he gets another year home with me before going to college and see if he settles for that.

About Meg

Photo by Jessica Bachmann

Meg Gammage Kramer is mom to son, Walter, who is almost six years old and black lab, Max, who is almost ten. Meg is a Hollins girl and College of Charleston grad. She lives in Uptown where she owns and manages her own court reporting firm, Max Reporting, LLC. She’s active in her son’s school (Newman) and church, St Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church, where she enjoys volunteering in her spare time. She enjoys learning as much as possible about parenting due to being a single parent. She listens to podcasts in addition to reading blogs and magazines to stay on top of the trends.


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