Who’s Ready for Kindergarten? asks the New York Times‘ Room for Debate. As kindergarteners do more reading and writing, upper-middle-class parents are “red-shirting” younger children, especially boys, to give them time to mature. Some states now require all kindergarteners to turn five before the school year begins.
Children from poor families need “cognitive, social and motor stimulation” in preschool and extended-day kindergarten to prepare for first grade, writes Hermine H. Marshall, professor emerita at San Francisco State.
In other cultures, four-year-olds are gathering firewood, weeding gardens, hauling water and watching younger kids, writes Meredith Small, a Cornell anthropologist. In the U.S., four-year-olds are sitting. They’d be happier doing chores around the house.