Study says we’ve been getting education wrong all these years 104

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Do you remember starting school? Were you frightened? Did you feel small? A new study has questioned the way most of us experienced our first days of school, suggesting that we may have been doing it wrong for all these years.

In Australia, as has been the tradition for as long as we can remember, children start school at age five, however a study titled The Gift of Time? School Starting Age and Mental Health, says that’s two years too early.

Based on Danish research, the paper, which was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, says children who start school at age seven are more likely to do better.

“In Denmark, children typically enrol in school during the calendar year in which they turn six. We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73 per cent for an average child at age 11,” said co-author Thomas Dee.

“We find that a one-year delay in the start of school dramatically reduces inattention/hyperactivity at age seven, a measure of self regulation with strong negative links to student achievement.”

“It virtually eliminated the probability that an average child at that age would have an ‘abnormal’, or higher-than-normal rating for the inattentive-hyperactive behavioural measure.”

Education experts here in Australia have differing opinions. Professor Jacqueline Hayden of Macquarie University’s Institute of Early Learning told The New Daily that it’s up to the school to provide a stimulating environment for the child and that there is “no ideal age” for kids to start learning.

However, Murdoch University’s Associate Professor in Education Libby-Lee Hammond says four-year-old are “still babies at that age… and we’re sending them home with worksheets”.

“I’m not surprised at the study’s results,” she said. “Developmentally, a lot of children aren’t ready for quite formal primary school learning at that age. I can see how there would be a mental health and developmental effect.”

Do you think four-going-on-five is too young for children to start school? Were you a teacher or have you watched your kids and grandkids go through school? We’d love to know what you think about this idea! Share your thoughts below. 



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  1. Remember it like yesterday…..had a sister two years younger and a lot bigger than me….she went n stood in line I was still draped round mother’s legs….mistress came and prized me away….traumatized….I remember unpicking the hem of my home made school uniform with nerves seated on a rug by the blackboard….stood up fell over the hem (longer than the whole skirt) n mother had to come to school n take me home again!

    2 REPLY
    • I was so terrified I peed the mat and ran like hell when the bell rang – never owned up and she obviously hadn’t observed too closely who was sitting in that spot….whew….

    • Heather – I think you and I were both 4 when we started! I was always a year younger than everyone else in my year.

  2. I went to kindergarten so school wasn’t a problem. I started school in the last term as I turned 5 in the October, many of us did in Victoria. It was preparation for first year at school.

  3. I started school at 5 and I remember feeling OK – maybe it was due to the fact that my parents had already taught me reading and arithmetic basics.

  4. Terrified it was awful it’s a wonder I learned any thing didn’t know where the toilet was peed my pants got th e straps jeez

  5. I was excited. I wasn’t allowed to start until after the May holidays because my birthday was in October. My friend’s birthday was in August so she was permitted to start at the beginning of the year. I was so envious.

  6. Depends on the child , i had 2 boys that 7 or 8 would have worked better. Also 1 boy and 1 girl started before 5 and no trouble at all!

  7. I was 4 years old. My mother and father took me ..interview with the headmaster..he said too young..I CRIED! The tears worked..I was accepted! Can you believe I can remember it exactly? Wallsend Public school 1937 my father was killed on the railway 2 years later!

  8. I never went to Kindergarten, I was put into full time schooling suddenly and it was hard for me….I remember the first day holding onto my mum and crying. 🙁 My Mother said she never heard of kindergarten back then, it was 1965.

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