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Should You Delay Your Child Starting Prep?

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A study, released on 5 October 2015, has indicated that it may be beneficial to delay your child starting Prep.

The study titled “The Gift of Time? School Starting Age and Mental Health,” has shown numerous health benefits, particularly in children’s mental health in holding back, or delaying children’s entry to school until seven.

We know that many Scandinavian countries don’t start their children until 6 or 7 and this study, undertaken in Denmark, has proven the benefits yet again of delayed entry to the more academic learning of school.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, suggested that schools in Denmark should further delay the entry of their 6 year olds until they were 7 – holding them back another full year.

Here is Queensland, our kids can start school at the end of January – if they are born at the end of June (the official cut off for school entry) they would be 4 years and 7 months old. If parents wanted to gain early entry for a July born child, they could be as young as 4 years 6 months old!

ASK your questions to find out if your child is ready for Prep at our online personal Q&A Facebook forum on Monday 27th August 8pm – click here!

What the Study Found

This study covered children from the first year of starting school until they were 11 years old. Those that were older when they started school, who had delayed exit from kindergarten, were better regulating their own behaviour (self regulation) and showed lower instances of hyperactivity and inattention.

At age 11 there was a 73% decrease of instances of hyperactivity and inattention for children who had been delayed.

The study went on to compare those students who had delayed entry to school with their younger starting peers and found that generally the academic achievement was higher for those that had been delayed. It concluded that those that could sit still longer and concentrate for longer periods of time were more likely to learn better and fared better at academic subjects taught at school.

Educational Resources to help children with hyperactivity

Self Regulation in Prep Students

There is growing evidence that play based learning is best for most children up to the age of seven. Yes! Seven!

This gives children time to learn about their world whilst they grow and develop into young students. Until a child can self regulate, control their own impulses, consider their peers and make choices about their own behaviour it is ridiculous to expect them to sit still, write letters, numbers, words and sentences and listen to sets of instructions and follow them without distraction causing them to ‘wander off’.

We are setting them up to fail. We are labelling children as ‘naughty’ when, in fact, they are behaving completely appropriately for their age.

What is the Best Age for Starting School?

The reams of evidence is suggesting that delaying exit from Kindergarten/entry to Prep for children may be the way forward for many parents.

However, this is not a decision you need to make by yourself. The best person to assist you with the decision is your child’s current Kindy/daycare teacher. They will have a raft of information from being with your child and watching them play and learn to help you make an informed decision.

here is also a ‘testing tool’ being developed to help school principals make an informed decision about ‘Prep Readiness’ – assessing social, emotional and physical abilities. Whilst it is currently being designed to test for ‘early entry’ there is no reason why the mechanism cannot be used to determine delayed entry also.

Tool to Test if Your Child is Ready For Prep

What Do Other Parents Think About Delayed Entry?

In August 2018 we are holding a public forum on Facebook and have four expert panelists to answeryour questions and concerns.

You can join this group NOW and post your question/s here.

We regularly post updated information about schooling, particularly about starting Prep in the group (including this article). Join the event to be updated and sign up to our mailing list for regular updates by clicking here. Like us on Facebook to be kept up to date by clicking here


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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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