Sunday, March 4, 2012

Development "expert"...Scott Adams

Here is yet another mention of the myth that there is an advantage to being the oldest kid in one's kindergarten class. Andrew Sullivan highlights a speculation by cartoonist Scott Adams...who quotes Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, which pointed out that Canadian hockey stars tend to be the oldest in their kiddie camps. Gladwell's meme has spawned a popular belief that it is a good idea to hold a child back from entering in kindergarten. I'm not kidding about this!

As our readers know, "academic redshirting" - the practice of purposely holding a child back from entering kindergarten - is done for 1 in 11 children. There is a belief that this somehow gives kids an advantage. I've noticed that the belief is especially prevalent among business types who think - wrongly - that they are doing their children a favor.

However, as Sandra and I pointed out in the NY Times last year, this is exactly backwards. After reviewing the evidence in depth, all the scientific evidence (a link to the most reliable research we uncovered is here) argues in the other direction. In fact, the advantages goes to children who are young for their year.

Ironically, Gladwell's original point doesn't even hold for all sports; for example, it isn't true for women's sports, noncontact sports, or even some contact sports. In short, if you are trying to raise the next Wayne Gretzky (and even then, only if you live in Canada, where small children are heavily coached), sure, hold your boy back. But if you want your child to achieve academically, become better-adjusted, and avoid delinquency - all signs point toward letting him or her advance.

In short, think of redshirting as "Some Children Left Behind."

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