Here's why you should wait.

The Early Years:

1.  Temper Tantrums (Resilience)

Kindergarten is a BIG adjustment that requires maturity

Early years and temper tantrums. The fact of the matter is, attending school every day, five days a week is a massive learning curve for little children. Every morning they have to get dressed in the same clothes, eat breakfast, pack their lunch and be out the door by a certain time. On top of that, they come home to their afternoon activities and then do homework – readers, numbers, sight words and more. Every day!!

Before they start school, they could do whatever they wanted! Open the fridge and get food, play a game, watch TV or use their tablet, and they never had to know the time or have a regular schedule. Even children that go to Daycare and Preparation school are not prepared for the start of Kindergarten. As an adult, it takes time to develop your own routine, especially after holidays or time off work. Giving children that extra year to grow up and mature allows the child to have better coping skills. It also alleviates the pressures put on to the family.

2.  Ability and Skills

Developing physical skills required to do the basics of schooling

This is always a controversial issue, but a child that has had an extra year to learn their own body and abilities will do better than a child who is unsure. The growth physically that occurs with a child from birth to 6 years old is enormous! It seems like every 6 months they are able to achieve something more. 12 months can make an immense difference in a child's fine motor skills, range of motion, physical ability, as well as having better endurance at sitting and standing for extended periods. 6-year-olds have had extra time to learn some of the basics required to start school, such as how to write their names, understand letters, even read, colouring in, independence, problem-solving skills, and usually have slightly more self-control than their younger classmates. 

3.  Boys VS Girls

Boys and girls develop differently

To coincide with ability and skills is the difference between Boys and Girls. Although there are exceptions to every rule, generally, boys are slower at learning, developing independence, and adapting to the rigours of school. They tend to use their physical self to learn and explore what is around them more than girls. Sitting and listening is not their forte. Very few boys can sit and colour-in for hours on end, do quiet arts and crafts, read or draw without wriggling, squirming, pushing, shoving, or being class clowns, especially at the age of 5. The classroom environment for many boys is not within their nature when they are younger. Ask most Kindergarten teachers, it is the boys who are regularly on the class discipline system over their femail counterparts, and primarily for physical aspects. 

Secondary School

4.  Self Control and Reckless Behaviour

Teenagers do not have fully developed self control

Teenagers have not developed the ability to decipher consequences from an action. They act out of impulse and then deal with the aftermath. More teenagers die from preventable situations than in any other time of their lives. The "I didn't do it" response. This is of particular importance when dealing with tougher situations that occur later in their schooling life around Years 9 and 10. Reckless behaviour becomes more common, especially as teenagers are beginning to discover themselves as unique individuals, let alone puberty! The old "Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll" for many begins around this age.

If your child is the youngest within the cohort, they are more prone to either be excluded from events and feel left out, or not able to control themselves in risk-taking behaviours. This is difficult to think about your little baby boy or girl going to Kindergarten, but fortunately, or unfortunately, they do grow up! As parents we all believe that we are doing the right thing, and have raised our children to understand right from wrong and that there are consequences for every action, however, teenagers mentally have not actually acquired those skills until later.

5.  Friendships and relationships

Teenage relationships often fluctuate

In high school, quite often the students who are younger tend to become friends with the students the year below.  Although this doesn't seem like a big issue, it does also lead to them feeling left out and not part of the cohort. Some students have stated that they feel isolated in class as they do not get along with everyone. It is often commented by the students that they have more in common with the year below due to being in the same sporting teams, groups, and even academic levels, so, therefore, they have more things in common. Their peers, on the other hand, are going out, driving, working etc.

Relationships can also be a factor that can cause an issue with younger students, and I do not just mean "boyfriend/girlfriend" relationships. Particularly in the senior years, the immaturity of a younger person is very apparent when watching group dynamics and how they interact. Often the younger person is not able to understand all the group nuances and dilemma's that naturally occur. This can lead to them being ostracised, or try to become the class clown and look for interactions another way.

The boyfriend/girlfriend issue....well that is a whole other issue that will definitely vary with families, morals, schools, and cohorts and will be left out of the discussion!

6. School work

The pressure of senior study can be too much for those younger students

The pressure placed upon students, particularly in their final years, is immense. Students need to develop independent study skills, know how to remain on task, prioritise what is important, and deal with the various factors of school and relationships. It is very stressful and one that does not seem to be getting easier the more I teach. If your child is one of the youngest in the year, their ability to clearly and succinctly communicate in both verbal and written content is slightly diminished. A teenagers brain is still not fully developed, and therefore, they are unable to use the full capacity or reach their full potential. In general, it is the younger pupil who is more of a class clown, laughing at the immature things and focused on stuff that the rest have already gone through and moved on. 

As a Year Advisor in High School, I have had younger students either repeat a year or change schools to repeat a year so that they are with students their own age and dealing with similar issues as themselves. Most of this is due to not being able to cope with the workload and being able to deal with the pressure placed upon them to succeed and start planning for their future. 

7. Driving and Employment

Getting a license and employment are important for teenagers

An odd one to add to the list, but seeing students trying to complete Year 12 and go for their Driver’s License is difficult. They need driving hours, lessons, logbooks and study for the test. Their focus should be on their final years of schooling. Getting something as trivial as their driver’s license out of the way will make the end easier. Yes, there is the concern that they become the driver for everyone, however, that is very easily controlled by not giving them the keys!!

For those students looking to leave school and gain an apprenticeship or employment, having their P Plates is essential. Although everyone receives their driver's license at set ages, being the youngest and having others driving, and friends leaving school, the ones left behind often lose interest and begin failing and becoming behaviour issues at school.

8. University, Gap Years, and Partying

Parties, University and drinking are going to affect a students overall results at school

It had to come up at some time. Partying, drinking, being 18, "Schoolies Week" and University. Not a lot needs to be explained about this, however, it does relate to the maturity level of being able to handle the new workload, added onto the freedoms of University, plus the lifestyle of a University student can be very difficult for those who are not yet of age. Yes, it may mean that they study more for those first 12 months or so, however, they wil certainly make up for lost time.

So, if possible, keep your child at home until the last minute. Yes, they are very very ready by the time they go. They are looking for information and eager to learn more, to get involved and be part of it all. It will definitely become a factor later in their schooling life when the pressures of school and outside life become very important factors. The Government recently put forward that children should attend schooling by the age of 3, because Singapore does it, while on the other side of the world Finland has school start at the age of 7. While 3 seems extreme, and my son wouldn't make it to 7 if he was home for another year!! there would need to be another major overhaul of our education system to have either of those situations to occur. For now, in our current climate of developing better-educated students, the pressure of senior years, and building lifelong learners, the older the student, the more mature they are and the better they can cope with what life throws at them.

Feel free to throw your own opinion in. Mine is based solely on teaching High School students for 15 years, and my children at this point are only 5 and 7. The youngest starts school this year as he turns 6 in March. He definitely needed that extra year to grow up, mature, and develop his physical skills. My daughter was different at his age, but I know in the future she will be much better off to be older in her final years at school.