Some states allow parents a choice regarding which year to start their child’s formal education.
Gradually, increasing numbers of Aussie parents are choosing to start their child at the oldest age that they’re allowed to. However, delayed starts are still the minority of new enrolments.
Some studies suggest delaying is academically beneficial by late primary years while others found there’s no difference by late high school, and others say the wrong choice can be detrimental.
One of the reasons for the vastly different results could lie in the reasons those children were delayed or started early.
Which leads to the difficulty of drawing conclusive results from such studies. An enormous sample size is required to get meaningful results.
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With that in mind, comparing entire countries may seem appropriate, but then the variable becomes the academic system under which they are being taught.
In the UK, Ireland and parts of Australia, a noteworthy percentage of students start at the age of four.
Comparing these students to those in Finland, where children start at age seven, showed that the students in Finland outranks the students in other three countries in maths, reading and science.
But then Denmark, one of many countries who starts them the year they turn six, ranks between Australia and the UK in maths and reading, and a bit below both in science.
Wherever parents have a choice, it is up to them to determine when their child is ready to start the more formal structure of primary school.