Are you thinking of enrolling your child into Kindergarten next year?
Starting school is a big step for children. You might have heard the term ‘school readiness’ – but what does it actually mean?
‘School readiness’ is not just about how well your child can read, write and do mathematics. School readiness is about the development of the whole child – their social and emotional skills, physical skills, communication skills and cognitive skills.
Research shows that children who start school when developmentally ready to learn, rather than chronologically ready, tend to do better in school – and it sets them up for further success later in life.
While some parents would like their child to enter Kindergarten as soon as possible, partly because of financial restraints of keeping a child in preschool and fear that their child will be too bored if they remained in preschool, other parents are “ redshirting” their children. Redshirting is the well-known practice of delaying their child’s enrolment into Kindergarten, even if they are eligible to start.
But why redshirt your child?
There are definite cases of why you should hold your child back, for example, if a child is less intellectually or socially developed than their peers, or experiencing severe anxiety or poor emotional control. But the decision becomes less obvious when redshirting is based on age alone. Many parents hold a child back now simply to give them ‘the gift of time‘.i.e hoping with time they will become more emotionally mature and consequently benefit more from school than their younger counterparts.Parents of boys are likewise driving the practice, believing them to be less mature. For instance in 2014, 7,999 boys were redshirted in NSW government schools compared to only 5,660 girls.
“Redshirting seems to be more common amongst higher income families in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. They can often afford an extra year of child care or have a stay-at-home parent,”
confirms Professor Alison Elliott of CQ University and University of Sydney.
However, does redshirting actually give an advantage to children?
The results seem to be mixed when one observes what other countries are doing. For example, many children of Indian origin in UK start school before 5 years of age. A 2015 UK study revealed that 15.4% of people of Indian origin (followed by Chinese at 12.8%), are most likely to hold elite professional roles in Britain. While at the same time, some of the best performing countries academically like Finland and Denmark encourage commencing schooling a little later.
So here lies the question, to redshirt or not to redshirt?
The lesson we can learn here is that the one-size-fits-all approach shouldn’t be adopted since some children at 5 years of age are ready, while others are not.
Many parents recognise that the timing of school commencement is a critical decision. Their decision will have profound and long-term implications for their children, however they are not fully confident in their own ability to assess the situation. Consequently, many parents have turned to psychologists who are able to perform School Readiness Assessments and provide them with the necessary information to help inform their decision. Unbeknown to many parents is the fact that schools actively discourage repeating Kindergarten, whether your child is coping or not.
Give us a call and allow us to help you make this important decision or request your own copy of the School Readiness Checklist.