Major Study Shows Unexpected Benefits Of Starting School Later

Major Study Shows Unexpected Benefits Of Starting School Later

It's the age old-question facing so many parents: should your child start school early or late? Well, a new study might finally have an answer.

Benefits of Starting School Later: To Start Earlier, or Later?

benefits of starting school later

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Parenting, in general, is a minefield of ‘should I or shouldn’t I?’

Should I breastfeed or bottle-feed? Should I co-sleep or let them cry it out? Should I use a dummy or not? Should I go back to work or stay at home a bit longer?

These are tough questions and there are no easy answers. 

But without question, one of the biggest issues parents face is what age to send their kids to school. But a new study shows that children who are held back and start school later are at a huge advantage – one that follows them throughout their lives. The study, looking at 1007 adults between the ages of 24 and 60, found that those who had started later were more resilient, competitive and trusting and far more self-confident than those who had started earlier. 

“Our findings indicate that school entry rules influence the formation of behavioural traits, creating long-lasting disparities between individuals born on different sides of the cut-off date,” said lead author Lionel Page from the University of Technology, Sydney, speaking to The Herald Sun

Dr Page believed that those children who were sent early rather than late felt the full “potential adverse effect” of school entry rules. 

No uniformity

benefits of starting school later

Image source: iStock

Looking across the states, there is a huge variation in when parents are allowed to send their kids to school. 

In Tasmania, all children must be five by January 1 of the year they start school, while in Victoria and the ACT, they must turn 5 by the 30th April. In South Australia, the date is May 1, while in Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory, the date extends to June 30. New South Wales has the latest cut-off of all, with children given until July 31st to turn five, in the year they start school. 

As a result- especially in NSW- there can sometimes be up to 18 months difference in the age of children starting kindergarten. This isn’t just tricky for the kids to manage, it’s really hard for teachers, who have to deal with a huge range of developmental abilities in the one classroom.  

And what the study suggests is that the effects aren’t just felt while children are in school. “We find that participants who were relatively old in school exhibit higher self-confidence about their performance at an effort task compared to those who were relatively young,” Dr Page said. “Moreover, they declare being more tolerant to risk in a range of real-life situations and trusting of other people in social interactions. Taken together, this set of results offers important insights on the long-erm effects of relative age at school on behavioral traits.”

A wide-ranging study shows the benefits of starting school later

benefits of starting school later

Image source: iStock

The study was a joint research project between the federal government and various universities, including the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia. 

Recently, a study of parents conducted by the University of NSW found that a quarter of them are holding their children back, letting them start school as they turn six, not five. 

And as the mother of a boy born at the end of June, I can say unreservedly that both these studies reflect everything I already thought: my little boy will be waiting until he is five-and-a-half before he starts school. Yes, sure, it’ll mean an extra year of daycare fees and an extra year of juggling work and childcare, but for me, it’s a no brainer. Childhood is short enough, and if these studies are to be believed, children are happier, healthier and more successful both early on and later in life, if they’re not pushed into school before they’re ready.


This article was first published in Kidspot and was republished on theAsianparent with permission. 

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