[ExI] [Extropolis] Starting school too early

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Sat Jul 3 19:13:18 UTC 2021

Quoting William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com>:

> The average age for the diagnosis of autism is a bit over four years of
> age.  For ADHD it's four. Medians.   Since these are medians the kids who
> get diagnosed much later, teen years for example, did not affect the
> average.  Draw your own conclusions.  So they start school on the average
> of two years after the average age at diagnosis of these two conditions.

Are your figures for median age of diagnosis international or just in the US?

> Also, the transition to the next Piaget stage will vary (how much I do not
> know).  Then too, Piaget's stage ideas have lost some support over the
> years.

I realize that. It is like Piaget and the "nature" psychologists have  
largely been forgotten. These days it is all about "nurture" as if  
every child is an infinitely malleable blank slate and could become as  
smart as Einstein, as talented as Mozart, and as athletic as Kobe  
Bryant if they are raised by a proverbial village and have access to  
the right teachers early enough. I, for one, am skeptical that the  
underlying biology has no effect on a child's development. Piaget may  
not have been entirely right, but he wasn't entirely wrong either.

> While I do not question the data (child psych not one of my areas) one year
> of difference in age should not cause the big effects they report.

One year of difference may not cause a big effect on an adult, but for  
children in the age group we are talking about, it is close to 14%-20%  
of their lives. Plus, since Piaget's time, we have discovered all  
manner of critical periods in early childhood development which are  
like windows of opportunity that if missed, result in the child  
lacking some functionality for their rest of their lives. Like when  
they sew one of a kitten's eyes closed for a few weeks, and even after  
they remove the stitches, the kitten can never see out of that one  
eye, even though eye is completely undamaged. Because of course, the  
neural circuitry for vision never develops for that one eye.

> Did
> they separate the children who had been to some sort of kindergarten before
> from the ones who had not?  Did not see that.  I did not do  a thorough
> study of the study.  I could have found more potential problems.

That is a good question. The authors do address preschool which does  
exist in Denmark but more as structured play rather any serious  
attempt at education. They say for example:

"Given that children who delay their school starting age are typically  
in home care or less formal preschool, they may benefit from an  
extended experience in relatively playful environments."

> All in all, we'll have to wait for replications before changing the start
> of school.     Typically a first study will feature larger effects than
> replications will.  Draw your own conclusions.    bill w

The authors claim to be replicating the results of earlier studies  
that were much smaller than their study of the 30,000 students that  
they followed up on. I am not sure if they observed larger or smaller  
effects than the previous study. My own observations are that,  
diagnosed or not, about 15% of middle-school students seem almost  
incapable of sitting at their desks and focusing on an academic task  
without an adult looking over their shoulder. At least the dyslexics  
TRY but the ADHD kids can't or won't.

Stuart LaForge

> On Thu, Jul 1, 2021 at 5:50 PM Stuart LaForge <avant at sollegro.com> wrote:
>> So a new shot has been fired in the perennial debate between the
>> nature and nurture folks in educational psychology. According to a
>> massive corroborative study between Stanford University and the
>> government of Denmark, students who start school closer to 6 years of
>> age when they start school suffer from more ADHD/inattention, and
>> other mental health issues and difficulties in school than students
>> who don't start kindergarten until age 7.
>> Interestingly, this corresponds to the transition between Piaget's
>> pre-operational stage where kids are prone to cognitive and social
>> emotional errors such as difficulties with concepts like number,
>> amount, centrism, conservation, animism, and egocentrism and his
>> concrete operational phase where children develop the ability to
>> logically reason in an accurate multidimensional fashion regarding
>> concrete objects and people (as opposed to imaginary friends). Sadly,
>> however, the study article does not reference Piaget.
>> Could starting school too early be stunting a child's social and
>> emotional development by ending social play before the child has fully
>> worked out boundaries between self and others? Could this be at least
>> partly responsible for the world-wide epidemic of autism and ADHD that
>> antivaxxers are attributing to childhood vaccines?
>> What say you psychogeeks, aspies, and parents?
>> https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/10/07/delaying-kindergarten-until-age-7-offers-key-benefits-to-kids-study/
>> https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w21610/w21610.pdf
>> Stuart LaForge

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