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Perfect Timing for Kids to Start Schooling

As students, we all had to compose some custom papers on education, and that might have been some wise, insightful ideas about when and how education should be delivered. Times have passed, and we are parents now, so the question becomes not purely theoretical, but rather a burning practical problem. So, which is the ideal age for a child to go to school? Should a child start education with a milder form – a kindergarten? At which age should each schooling stage be initiated? There are the questions are the causes of sleepless nights and nervous days for many parents, and this article may help bust some myths about education and inform proper choices and decisions.

State Norms on Schooling

For many years, the age at which a child had to start schooling differed widely, and it was to parents’ discretion when to send their kids to preschool and then school. In the 2010s, much has changed, with many states fixing the schooling age at minimum 5 years old. However, some states still have loose norms in this regard, and in one preschool class, children slightly over 4 years of age and those who have already turned 6 may be equally met. This large age gap later results in the achievement gap as soon as children pass to the first grade, which is the major concern for parents of smaller kids. While older children are already highly capable in reading and writing, smaller ones struggle with these basic skills and generally have problems with discipline and concentration on studies. Hence, it is clear that the trend of starting education later is on the rise, and its reason is the parents’ desire to give their children a competitive advantage in the class and at tests; the older kids start schooling, the more they know and can by that time. Logically, they will get higher grades than their less capable younger classmates will. But is this practice appropriate, for children and for parents alike?

Why Is Redshirting a Popular Practice?

Redshirting is becoming an increasingly popular practice among parents of small children. Initially referring to the practice of holding an athlete on the bench, the term is now applied to holding children from kindergarten for at least one extra year. What are the reasons behind such a decision?

Parents now prefer to hold their children at home for longer before schooling because they believe that kids are immature for studies and are not yet ready for them in any way. As public polls show, parents don’t regard their children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development as fitting the preschool level at the age of 4, so they tend to delay entry to preschool until at least 5 years of age, if not 6.

By the way, statistics of school achievement supports these considerations of parents, showing that redshirts score a bit higher than their younger peers at school. These achievement gains are surely a benefit for schoolers in their test scores and further education and career prospects, which makes redshirting so popular. Nevertheless, with more and more parents considering the delayed entry to school, soon this practice may simply grow into a larger-scale educational change, with all children going to school later, graduating from it later, and so on. Therefore, critics observe that the redshirting practice, if it becomes commonplace, conceals a considerable danger for the quality of education and overall educational norms.

By Which Characteristics to Judge? 

Though there are still parents who prefer to send their children to school early, many studies suggest that later school onset is more beneficial for children. Since the decision is still the prerogative of parents, it’s necessary to keep in mind some key readiness criteria, such as social and emotional readiness for being in a class. Many children are raised in a small family circle with a handful of friends, so parents should be careful about readiness to function in a class with a teacher and numerous peers.

Moreover, the criterion of cognitive ability’s maturity is a significant one, since children have to be ready to process information given at classes, learn it, master new skills, take tests, etc. Discipline is also a vital aspect to consider, since many small children are simply not ready to sit at the classes and attend to the teacher. They are too playful for school, and need some more time to get ready for the school regime. Otherwise, there is no sense sending the child to school just because of a due age – it’s much better to wait for some time and let the child study at his/her own pace once they are ready for proceeding to this new developmental stage.