One in four won’t let kids start school until they’re six
One in four NSW families won't let their kids start school until they turn six, new research shows.
Parents of boys, younger children, and kids living in advantaged neighbourhoods, such as Sydney, are more likely to delay school start, according to the study of over 100 000 NSW Kindergarten children.
In NSW, children born in the August to December period must start kindergarten in the year after their fifth birthday.
Children born in the January to July period, however, can start school as young as 4½ to 5-years-old, or delay entry a year and start at 5½ to 6-years-old.
For these parents, determining the age at which their child is ready to start school is difficult.
The decision is particularly hard for struggling families, who are forced to choose between enrolling a child into school early and an extra year of expensive childcare bills.
Study Lead Dr Mark Hanley from UNSW said the research, published in today's Early Childhood Research Quarterly, identified a strong link between the age a child starts school and their developmental skills in their first year of education.
"What the data really show us is that, on average, children who start school in the year they turn six are more likely to have developed the skills and competencies needed to thrive in a formal learning
environment, compared with their younger peers who start school in the year they turn five" Dr Mark Hanley said.
In light of the new research, ANU's associate professor Ben Edwards suggested that increasing the minimum enrolment age would reduce the number of children starting school before they are ready, but he acknowledged that such a policy would have a ripple effect on families.
"Raising the school starting age may place added pressure on families to provide preschool care, or restrict work force participation for parents," associate professor Edwards said.
A later start to school may also have long run effects on the age that young adults enter the workforce."