When Should Children Start School?


Students and their families may use a variety of methods to progress and achieve positive results in their learning. One such example is for children to start school at a younger age. There is an on-going, wide-ranging debate as to the true worth of early education for children and the connection between a student’s age and potential progress. In this paper, the positive and negative aspects of early school enrolment will be considered and a conclusion reached as to whether it is correct that the younger the child is when they start school, the more progress they make.

Arguments for Early Enrolment

Nowadays, many parents want to know what they can do to ensure their child has a safe and successful future and try to use all the opportunities and options available to them (Walker, 2015). Sometimes, families decide to involve children in numerous physical activities, competitions, and training programs (Selmi, Gallagher, & Mora-Flores, 2014). In addition, in many families, parents choose the option of enrolling their child earlier in school in order to make more progress. The age to start education varies in different parts of the world. In the United Kingdom, for example, there have been recent improvements and changes to support families with this idea of early childhood education (Davis & Elliot, 2014). Those in support of the idea of a younger starting age of education for children point to such factors as the possibility of earlier development and enhanced prospects for future employment, the necessity to promote a competitive advantage, and the importance of child motivation to understand their skills and abilities. All these factors demonstrate how helpful and beneficial early education can be. Parents are able to enjoy the results their children achieve, and students can understand what they want as early as possible.

Another of the main benefits of early entry education is the development of personal knowledge. Many children are curious and want to know as much as possible as soon as they start talking. They ask questions and expect their parents to know all the answers. With this in mind, much attention has been paid to the role of early childhood education (Waller & Davis, 2014). Many parents believe that the younger children begin their education, the better (Child Trends Data Bank, 2015). Younger children may have lower skill levels in language or writing at the beginning of their education. However, in a short period of time, they can potentially demonstrate much higher, and better, results in comparison to students in the same age group who start their education later (Norbury et al., 2016). Parents and educators believe that the process of adaptation is important at every age, and the earlier it can be passed, the better results can be observed.

Another important aspect of early education is the possibility for children to understand their own interests and possible fields of future occupation. Children can be involved in numerous activities but still never really understand the reasons or impact of their decisions. They rely on their parents and look to get as many explanations as possible (Denham, 2013). Children whose parents pay attention to early education make more progress, compared to their peers, whose parents are not interested in early education (Aitken, 2014). They use their skills, evaluate what they already know and what they should learn, and rely on their own abilities to take new steps (Waller & Davis, 2014). Younger students are more open to new options, and early education is a chance to harness these skills.

Finally, early education is usually associated with new opportunities for children. When people start projects or training earlier, in general, they get more chances to finish earlier and achieve success (Selmi et al., 2014). A similar outcome is expected by the families who choose an early school start for their children. It is believed that early entry will lead to more success in terms of employability, wages, the development of family relations, and the availability of opportunities that are not open to other students (Aliprantis, 2014). Still, it is important to remember that all the above-mentioned aspects are more important for adults, not for children. When parents make a decision to start a child’s education at an early age, not everyone will necessarily recognise where the benefits for parents, teachers, and children actually are. People might just see the chance to start education early and choose this method (Walker, 2015), relying on the law and regulations that support the idea that the younger students are when they enter school, the better their academic progress can be. Even so, it is hard to believe that such a choice has only positive benefits. There are also some counter-arguments and doubts that should also be considered.

Arguments against Early Enrolment

Advocates of children starting school at a young age should also consider issues such as a child’s personal attitude to the learning process, emotional and behavioural instabilities of younger children, the cost of education, and the comparison of results between younger and older students at school. In the United Kingdom, many parents follow the law and start preparing their children for education at the age of three in order to start their learning at the age of four (Davis & Elliot, 2014). It is possible to buy a uniform and find enough interesting learning material. However, emotions of children cannot be bought (Walker, 2015). It is hard to find many four- or five-year-old children who start their schooling with a happy face. Some of them do not even understand why they have to go to school and their emotions are hard to investigate. Denham et al. (2012) underline the importance of age-appropriate emotional knowledge and the ability to control what is happening in the classroom. Older students are better prepared for classroom activities than younger children.

Another negative aspect of early education is its cost. Certainly, not everyone is willing to pay the price the government and society has set on education. Other families find it a challenge to find the financial resources in order to fund an extra year of child care (Norbury et al., 2016). The cost of the school is not the only amount of money that has to be spent during an extra year for a child; food, clothes, and other materials for education must also be bought. Instead of buying new toys or puzzles for a child, parents might only be able to focus on education and such a cost could lead children and young people to feel that they are lacking something (Waller & Davis, 2014). Parents should ask themselves if the price is worth it.

The progress during the learning process and the age of a child are two distinct issues that interconnect in a complex and unpredictable way. One child at the age of four may understand a subject better than a seven-year-old child. Genetics and personal skills play an important role, and some parents pay attention to these factors (Absury & Plomin, 2013). Other parents just follow legal norms and available programs to provide their children with the best of all the possible options (Davis & Elliot, 2014).

Such obligations and instructions influence not only parents but children as well. During discussions about the option of early education, it is important to consult the child to see if they are ready for a learning process to be introduced into their lives. Many children are unhappy with such a situation. Child well-being is hard to predict, and parents may face some psychological, emotional, and mental problems (Marx et al., 2017). There are many countries where children begin their formal education at the age of six or seven and still achieve good results in learning and developing their skills (Davis & Elliot, 2014).

The list of these countries is impressive, and some of them demonstrate a solid competitive advantage at the international level. Older children understand what they can do to improve their academic results and use critical thinking to achieve success. Younger students may be successful as well. However, their success is usually explained by a number of unconditioned reflexes or emotions. Sometimes, children are ready and even eager to start school in order to strengthen their skills and knowledge in certain fields (Denham, 2013). Parents should wait in order to clarify what their children can do. It seems counterproductive to insist on the importance of entering schools using the law. It should be a personal decision that depends on both the child, and their families, and not the country where the family lives or the month when a child is born.

Conclusion

To be most successful, education has to be voluntary and free. Children should not be faced with specific age obligations. Parents have to evaluate their children’s progress individually and not rely solely on laws or regulations. Teachers must motivate and involve children instead of focusing on just whether children accept rules and follow the prescribed programs. With regard to the suggestion and the characteristics of early or later education entry for children, I believe the assertion that the younger children are when they start schooling, the more progress they can make is incorrect. Education is not about the age of a child. It is about the abilities they have and how they can be developed.

References

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Aitken, E. (2014). Getting ready to start school begins at home. Primary Teacher Update, 2014(33), 17-19.

Aliprantis, D. (2014). When should children start school? Journal of Human Capital, 8(4), 481-536.

Child Trends Data Bank. (2015). Early school readiness: Indicators of child and youth well-being. Web.

Davis, J., & Elliot, S. (Eds.). (2014). Research in early childhood education for sustainability: International perspectives and provocations. New York, NY: Routledge.

Denham, S. A., Bassett, H. H., Way, E., Mincic, M., Zinsser, K., & Graling, K. (2012). Preschoolers’ emotion knowledge: Self-regulatory foundations, and predictions of early school success. Cognition & Emotion, 26(4), 667-679.

Denham, S.A. (Ed.). (2013). Early education and development: A special issue of early education and development. New York, NY: Routledge.

Marx, R., Tanner-Smith, E.E., Davison, C.M., Ufholz, L.A., Freeman, J., Shankar, R., … Hendrikx, S. (2017). Later school start times for supporting the education, health, and well-being of high school students. The Cochrane Library. Web.

Norbury, C. F., Gooch, D., Baird, G., Charman, T., Simonoff, E., & Pickles, A. (2016). Younger children experience lower levels of language competence and academic progress in the first year of school: Evidence from a population study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57(1), 65-73.

Selmi, A.M., Gallagher, R.J., & Mora-Flores, E.R. (2014). Early childhood curriculum for all learners: Integrating play and literacy activities. London, UK: SAGE.

Walker, K. (2015). Future-proofing your child: Help your children grow into sensible, safe, happy, resilient, self-motivated teens and beyond. Melbourne, Australia: Penguin.

Waller, T., & Davis, G. (2014). An introduction to early childhood. London, UK: SAGE.