More Parents Delaying Kindergarten for Kids
> 10/20/2006 9:55:25 AM

American parents, faced with the option of determining whether their four-and five-year-old children are ready to begin kindergarten, increasingly decide on another year in nursery school in order to better prepare them for the academic and social challenges ahead. Amid the constant influx of stories about hyper-competitive parenting, few should be surprised that related stresses begin so early. This development is hardly new. The influence of a child's birthdate on school placement is a longstanding issue with parents and educators; most schools require a child to turn five by December 31st of their first kindergarten year. For a child whose birthday comes in late summer or fall, this has often meant being one of the youngest in his or her class - and quite a few parents say they're willing to pull strings in order to avoid what they see as a distinct disadvantage.  

Some of their concerns are legitimate: children who forego the preparatory stages of preschool may conceivably end up less prepared for the kindergarten environment, which includes more peer interaction and structured activity with less time for free play. Since preschool is often optional, some parents choose to keep their kids close to home, concerned that they are not ready to spend several days a week at a school or nursery. This practice, however, may handicap kids more than age differences in kindergarten, as many pediatric experts believe socialization to be the most important aspect of preschool. Still, children who are close to a year younger than most of their classmates may very well find it harder to participate in cooperative activities.

Prior research on the topic, however, offers no conclusive evidence that age is an overriding factor in early academic performance, and a large portion of professionals in education argue that a willingness to learn and absorb new experiences is more important than any measure of aptitude:

In May, a federal Department of Education study found that of 21,000 children who entered kindergarten in the fall of 1998, results for the 6 percent who started late were mixed. By the end of first grade, the study found, the late starters were slightly more proficient than their classmates at reading, but less proficient in math.

Though statistical evidence may be scant, many parents find that avoiding the possibility of developmental shortcomings is the most important factor in making the decision to hold their children back. Seeing no downside to delayed enrollment, they would rather err on the side of safety and further preparation. For parents considering this decision, several sites offer informal checklists to measure the degree of a child's mental and social readiness.

Many districts give parents the option of determining when to enroll their children. In the end, parents know their own kids better than any administrator ever could, and an educated parent should weigh all variables before coming to a conclusion. The age at which a child begins kindergarten will not determine his or her path, but it can affect the crucial first years of school. The question of which option will be most beneficial remains up for debate.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy