Tuesday, June 05, 2007

When Should My Child Start School?

(MS) - When should my child start school? Many parents wrestle with this exact question as they slowly come upon their child's birthday and the accepted age when they can enter kindergarten.

In many states in the U.S. a child who reaches age 5 before the cutoff for kindergarten registration or another district-set date is eligible to begin. Therefore, many parents begin their child's school career at this time. In fact, according to a Baby Center/Parent Center Web site poll, 63 percent of polled parents felt that children were ready for kindergarten at age 5, and 54 percent of respondents had enrolled their child at age 5.

However, there are many other children who have been in school two or more years by the time they reach kindergarten, having been enrolled in pre-school programs. Other children have been on the road to school much longer, having spent considerable time in a daycare/school environment program since they were born. On the flip side, there are those parents who choose to wait until their child is 6 before introducing any form of school. So who is right?

It's generally up to preference. Some experts believe that a child should not be pushed into school just because he or she reaches a specific age. It is argued that chronological age and developmental age are two entirely different things. Meaning a child may be chronologically ready for school at age 5, but emotionally and developmentally not ready. The opposite also holds true.

Studies on the effect of age at the time of kindergarten admittance are varied across the U.S. and in other parts of the world. Finnish children, for example, often begin kindergarten at age 7. There has been no evidence that starting later has restricted learning ability, and in later grades most students are on par with others who began earlier.

In a study published in the Journal of Educational Research, "Summer Birth Date Children: Kindergarten Entrance Age and Academic Achievement," Sandra L. Crosser compared academic achievement indices of seventh through ninth graders who entered kindergarten at age 5 with indices of similar children who entered at age 6. A summary of the findings said that there were significant statistical differences that favored older males and females, especially in reading for older males. But in "The Effect of a Child's Age at School Entrance on Reading Readiness and Achievement Test Scores," report scores from Metropolitan Reading Readiness Tests and the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills indicated no significant differences between Sample A, (younger students who were between the ages of 4 years 11 months and 5 years 4 months when entering kindergarte) and Sample B (older students who were between the ages of 5 years 5 months and 6 years 1 month).

Many educators agree that the decision to place a child in school should depend more on the child's developmental readiness and not chronological age. It has also been found that kindergarten teachers, for example, place less emphasis on the importance of prior knowledge of academic skills for children entering kindergarten than parents. Many parents assume their child should already know the alphabet, numbers and be able to use writing implements.

Therefore, use your child's readiness cues in determining when is the right time for school to start.

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1 comment:

Laura said...

Helpful article, thanks!