Why You May Want to Consider Delaying Your Child’s Enrolment in Primary School for 2022
Each year when the time to enrol in school rolls around, parents of 4 ½ to 5 year old children must decide whether to enrol them in school or wait until the following year. It’s a big decision, and one that should not be made lightly, as enroling children in school before they are developmentally ready can have a lasting impact on their educational career.
Recent Research Supports Delayed Enrolment
The decision to delay enrolment sometimes comes with a cost—parents must pay for an additional year of childcare or wait to rejoin the workforce for another year. In NSW preschool begins late January/early February, and children who turn 4 years of age on or before July 31st of that year are eligible to enrol. Parents of children born between January – July must decide if they are sending their child to school at age 4 ½ or 5 or waiting until the following year and enroling them when they are 5 ½ or 6. Children with birthdays that fall between August – December do not have the option to delay with the exception of certain circumstances.
A recent study of children living in New South Wales (NSW) found that 1 in 4 delay school entry. The study determined that boys, children who were “young four-year-olds”, and privileged children were more likely to delay, while children in disadvantaged neighborhoods were more likely to start school when first eligible, which may indicate that financially disadvantaged families cannot afford to delay enrolment even if they believe it to be the right decision. Additionally, the study found that children who delayed enrolment were better prepared when they entered their first year of school.
The study analyzed data sets from the 2009 and 2012 Australian Early Development Census that were collected on more than 100,000 NSW public school children over the course of their first year in school. The census is conducted every three years and is based on teacher observations of children in a classroom setting and their knowledge of their students.
Teachers are asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire for every child. The questionnaire covers five key areas of development — physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive, and communication. The development of each child in every area is rated from 0 – 10. Those who scored in the lower 25% are considered at risk. Students who scored above 25% were determined to be developing as expected.
The study found that, in addition to boys and children from advantaged neighborhoods being more likely to delay enrolment, those children with greater developmental needs—such as children who were preterm infants or who had hearing/communication challenges—were more likely to delay.
Of particular interest is this—of the children who waited to start school until they were 5 ½ or 6 years of age, 60% scored above the 25% mark in the developmental domains. However, of the children who entered school at 4 ½ or 5 years of age, only 36% were meeting developmental expectations.
The study determined that for every month of maturity, children experienced a 3% increase in the likelihood of scoring above the 25% threshold.
What Does This Mean for Your Child?
If you have the option to delay your child’s enrolment until 2023, we recommend doing so. This recommendation is based on the fact that many of our children have been unable to experience the benefits of a childcare setting over the last year due to the pandemic. Young learners have missed months of critical developmental time around their peers, learning socialization skills and building self-esteem. Allowing them an extra year to catch up could leave them better prepared for pre-school and long-term academic success.
It is important to remember that every child is wonderfully unique and gifted, and age is not the only criteria for school readiness. A child’s ability to attend, to sit for a period of time, to listen to and process instruction, and to interact socially with peers must also be considered when deciding the right time to enrol.
If you have a child who will be 4 ½ – 5 in the upcoming 2022 school year and is technically old enough to enrol in preschool, consider this—your child has spent nearly half of his or her life living through an unprecedented global pandemic. They may have few memories of what “normal” felt like.
As vaccination rates go up and the country slowly begins to edge toward pre-pandemic normalcy, why not give them the gift of time—those 12 short months to make up for lost time and move a bit closer to school readiness? It’s a gift that will reap benefits well into your child’s educational career.
Thanks for reading,
1300 863 986