Stanford’s Graduate School of Education has highlighted a new study titled, The Gift of Time? School Starting Age and Mental Health, which authors Professor Thomas S. Dee and Hans Henrik Sievertsen say “could help parents in viewing the pros and cons of postponing enrolling their child in kindergarten up to a year later.”
Journalist George Zapo reports on their findings in his October 22 article, Delayed Kindergarten Enrollment Dramatically Reduces ADHD In Children, Study Shows,and reports how “Delaying kindergarten enrollment for one year shows significant mental health benefits for children” and “dramatically reduces inattention and hyperactivity at age seven“.What’s particularly interesting, in the context of summer born children in England, is that this study compares the mental health outcomes for children who enrolled in Kindergarten at age 6 instead of age 5… when in England, parents are making the decision between age 5 or age 4 entry to school.
This is a significant age difference, and it could be argued that the findings of this study would be exacerbated if conducted on children here – especially given all the research and evidence that already exists, documenting a whole variety of disproportionate challenges and disadvantages for summer born children throughout their education.
Social and Emotional Benefits Highlighted
George Zapo writes, “In addition to improved mental health of children who are not enrolled in kindergarten until age six, instead of age five, emotional and social skills show improvement, as well.”
And what I admire most in his article is the description of “academic redshirting” (which he reports “has progressively increased to about 20 percent in the United States“), as “a principle used for postponing entrance into kindergarten in order to allow extra time for socio-emotional, intellectual, or physical growth.”
“Many parents are opting to delay kindergarten enrollment for a year in the hope of giving their children a leg up in maturity and other social emotional skills.”
So often ‘redshirting’ is negatively portrayed as parents trying to seek ‘a competitive edge’ for their children, by making them ‘the oldest instead of the youngest’, but while this may be true of some parents, in my experience (and I’ve read thousands of posts from parents in our Summer Born Campaign group of nearly 4,000 members), it’s the social and emotional concerns that genuinely come up over and over again.
And when you consider the findings of this study, it’s evident that the benefits for our summer born children can actually have knock-on benefits for all other children in the classroom (and the teacher) too.
Surely fewer children with “inattention and hyperactivity” is a good thing for everyone?
- Written by author and journalist Pauline Hull