How Starting School Young can Affect Your kid’s Learning

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Parents of kids, old enough to attend school, have a difficult time deciding whether to enroll their child into a kindergarten or still school them at home. For most parents this decision might be easy, but for those whose children have barely made the age cut off, the choice of sending them to school or wait for another year can be a little difficult. Education is seen as a necessity in any society. So starting school young has become a common practice without considering it’s harmful effects. However, many parents still prefer to wait for their child to turn at least 6 to be more mature and develop the required cognitive skills to grasp concepts better. Then again, it is often seen that, delaying school for a child can give her an extra year to grow physically, cognitively and socially by interacting with parents in their environment.

How to decide the preschool age ?

It should be a parent’s prerogative to understand if their child is school ready. Before admitting a child into school it should be made sure if the child is ready to absorb the class environment and cope up with long periods away from home and have the ability to handle instructions properly for a classroom setting. A certain research shows that younger children may actually perform better at school both scholastic and extra-curricular wise. However, it is seen that lowering the school starting age for children from 6 to 4 years can trigger a wave of anxiety and stress among them which can damage a child’s education for life. The research says: “Children around the age of four may not be ready for the environment they encounter in the reception class, which will include having to deal not only with a curriculum that may not be tailored to their needs but also with a number of social and emotional adjustments. These factors may cause stress and anxiety.” 

Thus, the whole idea of sending a child early to school can cause problem to them. Kids could be affected in a negative way by their experiences in the early years of school life if it pressurises them to learn and act like grown up adults. This can easily de-motivate a child to learn which in turn will affect their academic performance throughout their schooling.

Further research shows that in 1998, 31 percent of teachers expected children to learn to read in kindergarten. In 2010, 80 percent of teachers expected this. 

To start or not to start school too early :

The advocates for starting school young argue that early formal education in children can develop social and intellectual skills which can be advantageous for them and help them to deal with environment effectively in their growing years. Such students are at ease while interacting with other fellow students and teachers because of the early exposure to life they have got than those children who start school late. Moreover, starting school young may help children to develop a better understanding towards their academics due to their early engagement in literacy and numeracy. 

However, on the contrary, people who decide to red-shirt their kids (wait a year to send their kids to school) have a different view point. They think that early stages in a child’s life should be focused towards spending time with parents at home and learning basic behavioural traits. They argue that parents are the best teachers for a child hence should be devoting their time to teach their children. Furthermore, it is seen that forced early education can affect a child’s holistic development and drain her both physically and psychologically.  

Your kid needs to learn from you during her early years:

For parents who harp about starting school young, must understand that when a child’s educational exposure is not in pace with her developmental level or in tune with her learning needs, it can eventually make her harbour feelings of anxiety, inadequacy and confusion.

As schooling becomes more stringent and consumes more of childhood, in my opinion children should be allowed to delay the start of formal education and allowed more time for playing.

Research says, very young children’s brains are programmed to learn by playing, exploration and with the warm attention by the adults. This way they build their self-image, self-confidence, curiosity and general competence.

Reasons why you should wait :

A research work by teachers and education experts in England have brought the facts in light that the children, who start formal, study in the age of seven, shows better educational achievements. These days we expect children to read in kindergarten and become avid readers soon after, despite research showing that pushing early literacy can do more harm than good. It is also seen that the youngest child in the first year of school is at an increased risk of behavioural problems and academic under achievement.

It is seen that many children are unable to meet the unrealistic demands of formal education and behavioural expectations from such a tender age.  Often they are being labeled with and medicated with psychological delays and disorders like Learning Disability, ADHD or Autism for that matter. Parents should be aware of this alarming trend and opt out of early schooling altogether. American research recently found that children who had “teacher-led, academic lessons” at the age of five did not display “lasting academic advantage” over those who began later. Moreover, they were more likely to suffer emotional problems as adults.

Children haven’t changed over these years but our expectations from them have. They are going to school at younger ages, and are spending more time in school than playing at home with parents. Academicians also agree that starting school late may benefit children by allowing greater time for them to mature, which leads to decrease the chances of facing issues like inattention or hyperactivity. Hence, starting years of childhood should be spent with parents in play activities thereby strengthening social and emotional bonds with parents.

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