Delaying your child from school – yes or no?

Delaying your child from school – yes or no?

Most school-aged Australian parents have asked themselves, when is the right time to send my child to school? If their birthday is nearing the end of the cutoff period, should you keep them back a year? Or maybe they aren’t just as social as some of the other kids of their age. Is this a reason to delay their start?

Whether or not to delay your child’s start in school is a big decision. But it is also difficult, which can cause parents a lot of stress and anxiety. What is the right thing to do? Should you delay starting your child in school?

Parents struggle to decide whether to delay or not

If you are struggling to make a decision about the age at which to send a child to school, you are not alone. Dr. Emma Jury, a psychologist at the Queensland University of Technology’s Early Childhood School, studied 224,000 public school students over a four-year period. As part of this study, Dr. Emma Jury attended online forums with parents who all found this decision difficult to handle, and often became “overwhelmed, anxious, and stressful.”

The decision was not made easily by the fact that the starting age of the school varies from state to state. Under current laws, there may be children who go to school as young as four and a half, or even as young as six.

Many parents delay their children

Research done by Dr. Emma Jury shows that parents are increasingly holding their children out of school. From 2010 to 2014, the number of children detained in Queensland state schools more than doubled. Across Australia, about 14.5% of parents choose late entry. In New South Wales this number was higher, at 22%. Parents of boys are also likely to be late – 64% of Queensland children are boys.

Parents consider many factors when they decide on the age to send a child to school. One of them is how close the child’s birth date is to the date of cutting. Parents whose child was born just one or two months before the start date of the study, were more likely to delay the start.

But parents also look at social and emotional development issues such as levels of maturity, the ability to stay focused and parenting experiences in school. Parents are likely to delay their children from starting school – 64% of the children in custody were boys.

But do they really give their children an advantage?

What are the advantages?

A Stanford University study found that children who did not go to school even after reaching the age of six scored better scores on self-control, concentration, and time management tests. These “executive functions” are essential for learning and development.

Another study showed that delaying up to seven years of age reduces inactivity and hyperactivity in children by up to 73%. A recent and convincing study from the University of New South Wales found that those who were “restrained” in order to start school at an early age had better results in the developmental stages of their colleagues in younger schools. These results improved for each month they are late.

The biggest advantage of delay is that this increases the amount of time our children can play. Over the past ten years, the first years of school have increasingly focused on playing and more on academics. But a series of research has emphasized the importance of toys to our children’s physical and mental health. Delay means more time for play, and more positive results for our children.

What are the disadvantages?

On the other hand, Dr. Emma Jury believes that while there may be a small advantage to being older than his colleagues at the beginning of the study journey, this advantage diminishes with age.

Holding our children can have negative effects in the education system. It can create a larger gap between younger and older children in the classroom and force teachers to prepare lesson plans that suit a wide range of abilities.

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So, should we delay our children in school?

The research is very clear – there are advantages to our children when we postpone their school start date. Although long-term benefits may be a matter of discussion, delays in the early years can help make the way easier, and lead to positive results for our children.