A Project of the Child Trends News Service Supported by the National Science Foundation and the Institute of Education Sciences

Kindergarten: Does Age Matter?

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Many parents worry about sending their children to kindergarten too soon. This has led to a trend called redshirting, where parents hold back younger kids from attending school for a year. In the United States, 4 to 5.5 percent of children delay entry into kindergarten. But is this a good idea? New research sheds light on this controversial choice.

Kindergarten is where your child’s academic life begins. But does a student’s age matter when starting? New research shows that it could. Scientists looked at how school starting age in the state of Florida affected cognitive development in kids ages 6 to 15. They found that children who start school older did better overall, and that this trend persisted. In fact, the oldest kids, who were born in September, were more likely to attend post-secondary school and graduate from an elite university compared to their August-born peers.

While this study seems to support the idea of redshirting, or holding back a child with a younger starting age, there could be some disadvantages to waiting. Redshirting removes students from the labor market for an extra year. Another thing to consider: Your child might do just fine, even if he’s younger. The best plan: Talk with your kid’s teacher early on to discuss any concerns.

The authors of the paper say that one surprising part of this study is that the effect was significant across all socioeconomic groups.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Julie Marks, Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

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