Delaying kindergarten may bring mental health benefits for kids

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Deepa Fernandes
89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio

The process grew complicated back in 2010 when the California legislature changed the age for getting into kindergarten to 5 by Sept. 1. Parents were left wondering if their child was old enough for kindergarten. Now new research suggests that waiting until the child is a little older might lead to mental health benefits as the students advances through the grades. According to Thomas Dee of Stanford’s Center for Education Policy Analysis, starting kindergarten at age 7 leads to children who are better able to focus and control their emotions. “Delaying kindergarten virtually eliminates the probability that a child is at risk of ADHD,” he said. . .

Waiting until children are older to start school, known as "redshirting," is not a new concept. Dee points out there is little evidence that delaying the start of school improves educational and economic outcomes. However, his study highlights important mental health benefits that can ultimately impact school performance. Yet these benefits may not apply to all children. “We found that the gains for delaying kindergarten tended to be concentrated among more affluent kids,” Dee said. Why? “Kids who come from more affluence are more likely to be in high-quality PreK, maybe ones that stress a more play-based curriculum.”

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