Advantage, or Disadvantage:
Starting your child in Kindergarten at age 5
Every child is ready to start kindergarten when they turn five right? Many parents, including my own, thought that their child is ready to start. Granted, the child may be ready academically, but what about developmentally? Kindergarten is the first step on a child’s academic career. With so many children starting preschool at a young age, this leave’s many parents to assume that a child is ready for kindergarten, Just based on how academically inclined a child is at the age of 3.5-4 years old. Many children understand counting, colors, and reading all before the age of 5, but the issue is not academics, the problem lies in a child’s developmental milestones.
A child may be mature for their age, understand concepts far exceeding the ones of their current age group, however, when looking to the future, children who start school early tend to fall behind in grade school due to a lack of maturity within expectations of the teachers, as well as with peers. When a child starts kindergarten at the age of 4 or very young 5, with many of their classmates starting at 5.5-6, they start school at a disadvantage when their peers have already hit developmental milestones. This may leave the child to feel inadequate and insecure regarding their own ability’s, which can follow a child all through their academic career. So what is a parent to do? What about starting a child in kindergarten when they have officially turned 5 years old. This idea of holding a child back from going to kindergarten until they turn 5 has quite a few benefits for the child, all the way through high school (even college). When children start school later they are able to comprehend more complex directions, and also educational ideals. Their minds have developed the necessary tools to be more socially adapt with their peers. The younger the child is, the less equipped the child is to understand certain social and behavioral norms of the peers in which they must relate to.
This also goes though to High School, when a child would normally be hitting milestones that are socially normal for their peers (turning 18, driving a car, starting college for example) many of the children who started school early, tend to not meet these norms until later, Generally after graduation, which ostracizes them from their peers. Also, many of the children begin to develop weaknesses in the understanding of complex math and science due to the comparative delay in development. This does not mean the child is behind. Just that compared to the older, or mature and developmentally capable children, the younger ones tend to fall between the cracks. Whereas when a child starts school later, they tend to be on the older side, and have the complete set of skills required to understand the complex math and sciences, as well as meet the social and behavioral expectations with peers as well as teachers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the scores for kindergarten entry were higher for delayed-entry kindergarten and on-time kindergarteners than for repeating kindergarteners. (Abcnews.com)
I myself wish I had been older when I started Kindergarten. Since my birthday is in August, my parents had the choice of starting my education at 4.5 or 5.5. They chose to start me earlier, because I met all the academic expectations required for kindergarten, but when I started the 4th grade, my academics began to suffer. The reasoning for the drop in academics was that I was socially inept and not developmentally ready for the material being presented. I did not understand some of the concepts that my peers were already eager to learn. This led to a struggle the whole time I was in grade through high school, particularly in my mathematical development. Had I been a year older before I started school, I am sure it would have change my whole academic career. But of course this is only speculation.
-Tarah Daniels, Preschool English Teacher, Frontiers Academy