When Should Children Start School?

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According to Kindergarten: Ready or Not? more and more parents are choosing to delay enrolling their children in kindergarten for a year. This practice is called reshirting the opposite is called greenshirting. “We classify ECLS-B children as redshirters if their fifth birthday falls before their state’s cut-off date for kindergarten enrollment, but they do not enroll in kindergarten until 2007 (a year after they are eligible).

We classify children as on-time entrants if they are born before their state’s cut-off and enroll in kindergarten in 2006 or if they are born after their state’s cutoff and enroll in 2007. Finally, we classify children as ‘greenshirters’ (early entrants) if they are born after their state’s cutoff and enroll in 2006.” These are the definitions according Sean F. Reardon and Daphana Bassok and their study in 2006 and 2007.

“Some accounts suggest parents increasingly delay kindergarten entry because they believe their child is not developmentally ready for the increasing demands of school” (Cosden, Zimmer, & Tuss, 1993; Graue, Kroeger, & Brown, 2002; Noel & Newman, 2003). “Others argue that redshirting reflects parents’ strategic desire to ensure their child enters kindergarten older, taller, and with higher levels of social and cognitive skills than their schoolmates” (Frey, 2005; Graue et al., 2002; Matlack, 2011). Some parents really do believe that redshirting will end up giving their child an extra advantage by being older than their classmates but in reality it can actually end up harming the child in the long run according to Delay Kindergarten at Your Child’s Peril by Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt, and Kindergarten: Ready or Not by the Great Schools Staff.

According to Wang and Aamodt in high school children that had been redshirted are less motivated and don’t perform as well. They also stated that first graders who were greenshirted made substantially more progress in reading and math than kindergarteners that were redshirted. They go on to state that “the first six years of life are a time of tremendous growth and change in the developing brain.” this means that if a child isn’t being educated at all in this time and doesn’t go to school until after they have already turned six that they won’t be able to learn and absorb as much as the children who started at four or five.

Despite all this Aamodt and Wang still reconginize the fact that some children might not be mentally ready yet and in that case redshirting is okay saying, “Learning is maximized not by getting all the answers right, but by making errors and correcting them quickly. In this respect, children benefit from being close to the limits of their ability.

Too low an error rate becomes boring, while too high an error rate is unrewarding. A delay in school entry may therefore still be justified if children are very far behind their peers, leaving a gap too broad for school to allow effective learning.” The Great Schools Staff has the same opinion as Aamodt and Wang saying “Many educators contend that the trend to delay kindergarten has caused more problems than it has solved.” And also that a good teacher can teach children in many different developmental stages Donna Adkins said “Most kindergarten teachers are expert at targeting instruction to the children in their room. We have always had children who could read and those who couldn’t even recognize their name or sit down.”

While Aamodt, Wang, and the Great Schools Staff agree that redshirting is normally bad not everyone agrees. Nick Morrison in his article Too Much Too Soon: Why Children Should Spend More Time Playing And Start School Later thinks that children between the ages of three and seven shouldn’t spend their time worrying about school and should just spend time playing. He argues both sides of argument saying that some people such as Tony Blair are saying that schools should start even earlier admitting children as young as two to try and counter the effects or poor parenting and children not knowing the basics.

He also brings up Lady Sally Morgan who says that five is much too late and in poor areas, the children should start at three or even two to counteract the effects of their upbringing since their parents most likely wouldn’t have the time to teach them the basics properly. However, Morrison states that evidence on the link between academic achievement and the age one starts school is inconclusive, but that work by Dr. David Whitebread has found the important of play in child development. Dr. Whitebread cites evidence that children from disadvantanged backgrounds benefit even more from play-centered experience and that play is closely related to both cognitive development and emotional well-being. Morrison believes that politicians find this concept difficult to grasp because Nick thinks that they believe that child should be taught certain sets of skills in order to gain certain qualifications. In reality what schools should be doing is helping to produce well rounded individuals according to Morrison.

On average 94% follow kindergarten entry laws, 2% greenshirt, and 4% redshirt, according to Sean F. Reardon and Daphana Bassok’s 2006 through 2007 study. However, according to the ECLS-B data this is a lower redshirting rate than reported in other similar studies. Parents will choose whether or not to redshirt for many different reasons. It has been found that redshirting is about twice as likely among boys as it is among girls.

This is because in many cases it has been found that girls really do mature faster than boys and so the parents keep them an extra year until they are more socially mature. This is not the only aspect in what affects redshirting. “Nearly 6 percent of white children are classified as redshirters. In contrast, less than 1 percent of black children delay entry. The figures for Hispanic and Asian children are only 2 and 2.7 percent, respectively.

The patterns for greenshirting, or early entrance, are largely the reverse. Low-SES children and Black and Asian children are more likely than high-SES, white, and Hispanic children to start kindergarten before they are legally eligible.” (Reardon & Bassok). The reason that white children are more likely to be red shirted is because usually their parents can afford to take an extra year off to give them “the gift of time” because they believe this will give their children an advantage. Minorities are more likely to be from poor families so they can’t afford to keep their children at home any extra time than they need to.

Our findings show that nationwide approximately 4 to 5.5 percent of children delay kindergarten, a lower rate than previously reported. We demonstrate that the likelihood of redshirting is much higher among children whose birthday falls in the months before the cut-off and that redshirting varies substantially across gender, race and SES. Poor families rarely delay kindergarten despite the fact that they are far more likely to indicate concerns about their children’s school readiness at age four. The findings are consistent with our initial hypothesis that low-income families may view redshirting as prohibitively expensive. Giannarelli and Barsimantov (2000) report that, on average, low-income families spend 16 percent of their earnings on child-care. Within this context, the patterns we observe are not surprising.” (Reardon & Bassok). Redshirting also depends on where the school is located but this also has to do with income as well.

“There is a great deal of local variation in redshirting, including schools with no redshirters and schools where over 25 percent of sampled children are classified as delayed kindergarten entrants. As shown in Table 4, school-level racial and family-income composition are strongly predictive of redshirting rates, with higher rates in schools serving greater proportions of high-income and white students. For instance, as shown in Figure 5, in schools serving students whose mean household income is $20,000, median redshirting rates were approximately 4 percent compared to a median redshirting rate of 7 percent in schools serving students with mean household income of $100,000.” (Reardon & Bassok)

All in all there are a number of many different factors in determining when a child should start school. In the end it is ultimately up to the parents since they have the final say. Every child is unique and has a different set of requirements which was stated in every source and that is what should ultimately determine the starting age.

Cite this paper

When Should Children Start School?. (2023, Apr 19). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/when-should-children-start-school/

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