Entering formal schooling is a major transition in almost every child’s life. Despite the transformative nature of this experience, most countries adopt a somewhat arbitrary cut-off date to determine when a child will enter school. Many parents face the difficult decision of whether their child should enter school as soon as they're eligible, or wait another year. We're a group of developmental psychologists who are interested in finding out about the changes in the brain and in the mind of kids as a result of formal schooling.
We’ve initiated a study that will assess brain functions, cognitive abilities, and academic performance across three years in children who are similar in age, but differ in year of school entrance. While all parents of children who have not yet turned five by the council’s school commencement date can choose to defer their child’s school entry, only children born in January and February are guaranteed an extra year in nursery. For this reason, our project is specifically targeting children born in January and February 2015.
Our research will have implications for school-entry policies and early classroom practices. The findings of this research will provide a basis for the discussion of whether the use of an arbitrary school entry cut-off date is desirable, and what potential alternative options there might be. Therefore, this work can help to promote equal opportunity at the school-entry level and ultimately reduce education inequality.