This One Decision Could Boost Kids' Self-Control

Want your kid to focus? Delay typical start by a year, study suggests
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2015 9:47 AM CST
This One Decision Could Boost Kids' Self-Control
A new study shows starting kindergarten later could give children more self-control as they age.   (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Holding your child back from kindergarten could be a big boost to his or her mental health for years to come, according to a new study from Stanford University. "We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73% for an average child at age 11," professor Thomas Dee says in a Stanford press release. "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." The study—published last month in the National Bureau of Economic Research—looked at thousands of Danish children and found that the kids who started kindergarten later had better self-control as they aged, Quartz reports.

While previous studies haven't shown that holding kids back leads to better test scores or income later in life, Stanford researchers found kids with less inattention and hyperactivity—both part of ADHD—did better in school, Quartz reports. And prior research shows higher self-control levels are linked to achievement. Dee and his team suggest that kids who start school later have more unstructured playtime and thus enter kindergarten with a healthier state of mind. This theory of "the more time children get to play, the better," is a big one cited by parents who choose to have their kids start later, notes the Huffington Post. About 20% of US kindergartners now start kindergarten at 6 instead of the usual 5. (This 11-year-old started college earlier and got three degrees.)

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