Family, Main, News, Studies, z32
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The gift of time

Wall of a kindergarten class in Nymegen, Holland. Photo: Bruno Casonato/Flickr

Wall of a kindergarten class in Nymegen, Holland. Photo: Bruno Casonato/Flickr

One of the big mistakes a parent can make is pushing their children ahead of their years. We want them in kindergarten at an earlier age and as a result they end up in school being the youngest child in their class.

In these situations, children can often be diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and are prescribed medication to try to control it. However, the problem may simply be their age. Put them back a year, and they would completely fit in.

A recent study by Stanford Graduate School of Education says holding a child back one year before entering kindergarten can “dramatically” improve a child’s self-control in later years. In the US, children traditionally enter kindergarten at age 5.

The study was co-authored by Professor Thomas Dee of Stanford University and researcher Henrik Sievertsen from the Danish National Center for Social Research.

They added that holding a child back one year in kindergarten can show beneficial results for a child up to the age of 11. It could even have positive benefits for children who are older, but 11 was the cut off age for their study.

Delaying entrance into kindergarten produced positive results in two important areas critical for learning: “inattention” and “hyperactivity.”

If a child is struggling to focus on school assignments it can have a negative impact on grades.

The results of the study were so conclusive and consistent, they added that holding a normal child back a year almost guaranteed he or she would not have problems in those two areas. This in turn tended to result in higher grades.

They said:

“We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73% for an average child by age 11 and 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 behavioral measure.”

Their research showed the same positive benefit for both boys and girls.

They reached their conclusions based on a study of Danish students who enter kindergarten at age six based on the calendar year. This means a child born December 31st would essentially be a year younger than a student born January 1 that same year, but both would be in the same class.

The researchers analyzed self-reported mental health survey results made by 54,241 Danish parents with children aged seven and then again when their children were around 11 where 35,902 responded.

The researchers noted that as well as giving a child a leg up on maturity, other studies show that extended play time at age 5 actually increases a child’s mental ability.

I loved the title of their study: “The Gift of Time? School starting age and mental health” because it reminds me of a verse in proverbs that similarly displays a time element.

Train up a child in the way he should go And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV)

The verse tells us that if we faithfully train our child in God’s  ways — when he is  older he will not depart from it. In between a “child” and “old” a lot can happen that can concern, discourage and even depress parents.

But during this time we can’t go by what we are seeing, as parents we must continue believing, praying and holding on to the promise that God is at work.

To some extent I believe Justin Bieber is an example of this. Raised by a Christian mother who had her son fall asleep listening to a pastor’s sermons, Justin was into nothing but trouble in his late teens as his fame grew as a mega pop star.

He was accused of throwing eggs a neighbor’s house, public urination, drag racing in Florida and even owning an illegal monkey, but now at age 21 he is finding a new interest in God.

“Old” can happen at different ages for a child. It is a parent’s gift of time. The key is to continue believing and praying


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