Gust Post: Sending a Child to School or Waiting another Year?

Sending a Child to School or Waiting another Year?
By: Kathleen Thomas

Not long ago, a child’s age was used to determine the start of his academic career. A three-year-old would begin preschool, while a five-year-old would attend kindergarten. Now there is a growing trend among parents to assess their child’s readiness before making this decision. As a result, many parents are now choosing to wait another year before allowing their child to begin school.

One reason for this trend, also known as redshirting, is that the school year used to begin in September, and children with fall birthdays were the youngest in the class. Now, many schools have start dates in August, and the age cutoff is often in September, meaning that children with fall birthdays have to wait until the next year to enter school. These children will have had an extra year to prepare and are most likely more mature than their younger classmates with spring and summer birthdays. Therefore, children who have waited an extra year may have an easier time keeping up with these older ones.

Another reason for waiting is that the kindergarten curriculum has become more rigorous. Children now learn the basics such as colors, shapes, letters and numbers in preschool. In kindergarten, children are learning reading, writing and math. Plus, some kindergartens last the entire day and include subjects like music, art and physical education. A younger child may find it difficult to keep up with this routine and may benefit from that extra year in preschool.

There are also some parents who hold their children back for competitive reasons. For example, children who are older and bigger than their peers may perform better in some sports and may find it easier to obtain college scholarships.

Since there are no definitive studies yet on the benefits of holding children back, parents will need to make their own decisions. One thing to look for is a child’s maturity. Children that can separate easily from their parents and sit quietly for long periods may have an easier time with the school routine. Parents will also need to decide if there are disadvantages for their children to be the oldest in the class. For example, if people in the family tend to reach puberty early, this could cause discomfort for a child whose friends are all younger. On the other hand, being the last to drive or date may also be difficult for a child whose friends are all older. Given all of these issues to consider, parents need to do what they think is best for their own child.


Heather said…
sometimes I think it would be nice if Ema's birthday wasn't in Dec. but earlier so that she could start school sooner.

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