Called to Serve: Red-Shirting Kindergarten for a Mission

 I taught elementary school for a number of years and observed, while teaching in Texas, parents deliberately holding their boys back a year to give them the advantage of size in sports participation.

Sports reasons not withstanding; is there a trend, in the North American LDS church community to red-shirt* five year old boys with an additional year in Pre-Kindergarten; when they are otherwise ready to attend Kindergarten for reasons to do with serving a mission?

Jared** is a four, almost five year old LDS boy, who is attending a Christian based Pre-Kindergarten program in our small southern town. Jared, unlike most of his peers, will not start Kindergarten in August. Jared’s teacher Miss Mamie** was understandably perplexed as to the reason behind this decision. Miss Mamie believed Jared could attend with his peers and do just fine. Miss Mamie went to Jared’s parents for an explanation. Jared’s parents told Miss Mamie they were thinking ahead to fourteen years in the future when young Jared would be nineteen.

Starting Jared in Kindergarten when he was six rather than five, would delay his graduation from high school just as he turned nineteen. Theoretically Jared would march to Pomp and Circumstance straight on into the MTC.

I have witnessed nineteen-year-old young men, who have left for missions the summer after their senior year in high school. However these young men were held back as five year olds because of readiness issues. Similar to the sports minded parents in Texas, is there now a trend to red-shirt five year olds for missions?

I can clearly see the advantages in the argument to hold back for a mission. The biggest advantage would be avoiding the freshman year away in college with the temptations any young man would surely encounter. Perhaps you like me, have observed many a nice young man who after a year away from college came home full of sin, debauchery, and maybe remorse.

I also see the disadvantages. My younger brother, who served in the Toronto, Canada mission in the early 1990’s shares the opinion of his mission President, who believed a year away from home attending college was the best training for a prospective Elder. It was this year away from home the young man learned to sink or swim. This mission President believed it was better for missionary service if the young man learned adult responsibility on his own rather than on the Lord’s time. This particular mission President also believed Elders with a year of college had learned the study skills necessary to be an effective missionary right out of the MTC.

So, in your humble opinion, dear reader, do you think a year in college before a mission is an advantage? Or do you think the temptations a prospective Elder will likely encounter during the year between 18-19 is just not worth the risk?

Finally is red-shirting LDS five year olds a trend or a rare anomaly?

Inquiring minds want to know.


**The names have been changed to protect the innocent