By Rachel Ostlie
One of the benefits of bunching your kids is the bunching that occurs in other areas as well. Both your kids enjoy the same toys and are entertained by the same activities. And when it comes to structured programming, like story time at the library, or toddler swim lessons, they can both be in the same class. It’s a beautiful way to uncomplicate your complex baby-filled life.
I’ve taken full advantage of this since the birth of Little Baby; however, a few months ago this benefit of bunching began to seem like a liability. With a Big Baby daughter born in December, and a Little Baby son born in May, my bunch (similar to most) will follow each other like ducks when starting school. Just like many parents of twins, I worry that my twiblings will be harmed by such close association. Will teachers have set expectations of Little Baby, based off having the previous year with his big sister? Will Big Baby always feel in the shadow of his sister, forced to measure up, or to follow whatever pathway she forges? To make it all more difficult, my daughter has a personality and fine motor skills tailor-made for school, while my son is a stereotypical boy: active, strong gross motor skills, with a sprinkling of challenging authorities.
This is why I’ve begun to consider “redshirting.” This idea was named after a practice from college sports, where a delay in an athlete’s participation resulted in a longer period of eligibility (i.e. an athlete would take classes and practice with a team their first year, but not actually play in any games, resulting in a subsequent four-year playing period where they are older and stronger than their peers in the sport). In academics, redshirting involves postponing entrance into kindergarten to allow extra time for socioemotional, intellectual, or physical growth.
If I go the redshirting route, and hold my son back a year, I believe he will be able to lead a different life than his twibling sister. He will be on par or even more advanced than the other children in his class, which might even create an unconscious bias towards him. His teacher may give him more opportunities to excel, as he will often be better behaved and more productive than his younger classmates. He himself may have a better self-image, as success begets success. This is all speculation, of course, but it finds its basis in a number of research studies on redshirting correlating with achievement in academics, sports, and other fields.
What are your thoughts, Baby Bunchers? Is redshirting a good or bad idea? What have you done (or plan to do) to solve the school dilemma with your bunch? Or, is this really a non-issue, and I’m creating a mountain out of a molehill?
Rachel is a Baby Bunching mom of three (ages 3.5, 2.5, and 2 months). All her plans for potential redshirting are coming into question since moving to a new country with a different school calendar.