Gregory Fabian, Florida International University
A good kindergarten experience helps children succeed in school and as adults. Students in early kindergarten grades are more likely to go on to college than students in larger grades. And at age 27, students who had more experienced kindergarten teachers earned more money than their peers who had less experienced kindergarten teachers.
One factor that many parents consider is their child’s age when they start kindergarten, depending on how close their age is to the registration deadline. The ages at which children are eligible to start kindergarten differ in the United States and other countries. Most often in the United States, a child who turns 5 on or before September 1 of a given year can start kindergarten that year. But most states don’t require a child to start school until later, even at age 7 or 8.
Evidence shows that children who are relatively young for their kindergarten class – those who are only a few weeks or months older than the cut-off rules require – are at increased risk of doing worse in school. , to be withheld from a grade and to have a lower social status. emotional skills.
Students who start kindergarten younger are also more likely to be assessed by teachers as having symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in kindergarten and to be treated with ADHD medications.
When younger children perform less well than older children in the same single-grade classroom and older children are seen as more advanced, it is often because adults tend to compare children to each other . Relatively older children may seem to do better than relatively younger children, especially since kindergarten classes focus more on academics and provide less time for play. Together, these differences are called the “relative age effect.”
As a result, some families choose to delay their child’s entry into kindergarten, especially those who can afford it.
I am a clinical psychologist studying how best to support children in school settings, especially those at risk for behavioral issues like ADHD. Here are five ways families can help support their kindergarten children, especially those who are relatively younger than their classmates.
1. Learning Opportunities
Relatively older students had more time to acquire academic skills. To help young preschoolers catch up with older classmates, families can provide additional learning experiences. This includes engaging children in more conversations and reading shared books. It can be started during the preschool years and all the way through kindergarten.
2. Be positive
Parents and educators can focus as much as possible on encouraging and praising the positive performance of relatively younger children in the classroom. If the feedback is mostly negative – in which the relatively younger child is always told to “hurry up”, “be careful”, “do it the right way”, and all the other variations of directives that include words like “no”, “don’t” or “stop” – they may eventually stop and stop trying to follow instructions. To combat this, educators and parents can emphasize all the things the child does well, rather than poorly. A good goal is to be aware of directing at least three positive statements to the child for each correction or redirect.
3. Set tailor-made goals
Parents of relatively younger children can meet with their child’s teacher at the start of the school year to discuss individual goals for the child. This meeting can discuss the child’s current strengths and skills, as well as areas that need growth. Adults can set reasonable and achievable goals for the child each week or each month. This can help offset any relative comparisons that may mask individual progress.
4. Track progress
To track the goals set at the beginning of the year, a daily or weekly review of behavioral or academic progress can help parents and teachers work better together. Waiting until the end of the school year is too long and does not allow time to change course if the objectives need to be modified. Frequent check-ins also provide opportunities to reward and praise the child for success.
5. Take a step back
Educators and parents may find it helpful to remember that kindergarten represents only one year out of almost two decades of education for children following a university track – and that age differences have become less and less importance in school performance as children get older.
Gregory Fabiano, professor of psychology, Florida International University
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.