This article from Science Alert came wandering across my web view today. It’s called “New study suggests we’re sending our kids to school too young“.
My initial reaction to reading the title was, ‘well, duh!’
The idea of sending my just-turned-five year old children off to school simply turned my guts when I thought about it. I just couldn’t see how they would cope with a full school day at that age, either physically or mentally. They were wiped out after the two hours at sessional daycare that they went to for a couple of days a week so that I could take care of my fitness needs. And as I would hear from folk about their new-at-school kids needing to take the kiddie equivalent of mental health days (or possibly recover from exhaustion) it simply re-inforced in my mind that we had made the right choice for our kids.
The issue with this particular article is that it isn’t the first research to show that we start our kids far too young at school. There have been others, and it was a bit of a hot topic a couple of years ago too. With even more interesting links and references to follow up, this article from the New Scientist is well worth reading through. It’s called “Too much, too young: Should schooling start at age 7?”
The sad and concerning thing is, that despite a lack of evidence supporting the current school starting age and more supporting the positive effects of a later start, governments around the world are pushing towards an even earlier start for our babies. The official age that children must be in school in New Zealand is six, but the majority will have begun at five if they are going to go at all. So here it is a cultural norm rather than a compulsion issue. And unfortunately it seems very few folk are all that keen on questioning it.
And that makes me quite sad.