Kids who wait a year to start kindergarten show significant long-term benefits, concludes a Stanford study of Danish children. “Delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73 percent for an average child at age 11,” reported co-author Thomas Dee, a Stanford education professor.
Lower levels of inattention and hpyeractivity correlated with higher academic achievement.
About 20 percent of U.S. children start kindergarten at age six instead of age five, according to the study. An increasing number of parents are “red-shirting” their children — especially boys — to give them an edge in maturity and social-emotional skills.
While the study supports that decision, Dee pointed out that Danish children have access to consistently good pre-K programs. Without that, waiting for kindergarten may not be as beneficial.
It also matters whether kindergarten is “the new first grade” or a place where children learn through play, Dee said. “It’s not just a question of when do you start kindergarten, but what do you do in those kindergarten classes?”