When is the Best Age for Children to Start School in the UAE? | ExpatWoman.com

When is the Best Age for Children to Start School in the UAE?

How to determine the best age for your little one to start their education, according to Redwood Center of Excellence (COE)

Posted on

28 November 2023

Last updated on 11 December 2023
When is the best age for kids to start school in UAE?

When is it too soon or too early for a child to start formal schooling?

It remains a great question amongst new parents when deciding the best age for kids to begin schooling.

A study of more than 100,000 children, published in the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly, found that one in four families delay school entry until their child turns 6 years old.

Alternatively, there are also parents who push for the 'earlier is better' approach, under the belief that children can get a head start in learning.

Dubai-based Redwood Center of Excellence (COE), known for offering EYFS, Montessori learning, Reggio Emilia, STEM education, and bilingual learning for little ones, answers the commonly asked question: When is the right age for a child to start schooling in the UAE?

According to research and studies, it's generally recommended for kids to start school at 6 years old, and here is why.

1. Improved mental health and reduced inattention spans

The first six years in a child’s life are critical. A child's future wellbeing, attainment, happiness, and choices are profoundly affected by the quality of the guidance, care and opportunities they receive during their early years of life.

A study published by Hans Henrik Sievertsen from the Danish National Center for Social Research showed improved self-regulation in children who started school at 6 or 7 years of age.

These improvements also continued into later childhood up to the age 11.

The study found strong evidence that delaying school by a year provides mental health benefits to children, allowing them to better self-regulate their attention and hyperactivity levels when they do start school.

Stanford Graduate School of Education Prof. Thomas Dee, who co-authored the study with Hans Henrik Sievertsen, also noted:

"We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73 percent for an average child at age 11 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 behavioural measure".

2. Increased self-confidence and resilience

Dr. Lionel Page from the University of Technology, Sydney, found that children who remain in early years settings and start school later at 6 or 7 years of age are at a huge advantage and one that follows them throughout their lives.

The study looked at over 1,000 adults between the ages of 24 and 60 and found that those who had started school later were more resilient, competitive and trusting and far more self-confident than those who had started earlier.

Young children benefit from early years environments under the guidance of skilled educators, in smaller group sizes. Little ones who are offered an inquiry-play based curriculum rather than an instruction-based, standardised and systemised environment, tend to thrive more.

3. Young children are not suited to formal schooling until later stages

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, educationalists such as Steiner, Montessori Piaget & Vygotsky and the Reggio Emilia Approach developed educational programmes based on observations of children's intellectual development.

They provided scientific evidence that the first seven years of a child’s cognitive development is different from later stages.

Young children are not suited to formal school environments, as it is not how the brain and body grows and learns at this age of development.

4. Early formal schooling may lead to anxiety and less creativity

In a study by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek of children whose parents sent them to formal academic preschools versus Early Years preschools that emphasise learning through inquiry, play and discovery, found that children in formal schooling had zero short-term, or long-term academic advantages.

By the time they reached first grade, the research could not distinguish between the intellectual skills of the children who started academic preschools before the age of 6, and those who had none.

However, there was an important difference: the children who studied early in formal preschools were more anxious and less creative than the children of the other group.

The Gift of Time

The first six years of child's life is crucial for them to continue to develop physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively.

Children who start school in the year they turn 6 or 7 years old are more likely to have developed the skills and competencies needed to thrive in a formal learning environment, compared with their younger peers who start school early.

Parents delaying the school start age are buying the ‘gift of time’ for their children. By choosing to forgo an academic preschool for an interactive learning preschool, supported by passionate educators to allow for more personalised learning, means the child will be more 'school ready' and likely to flourish once they enter Grade 1.

To know more about your options for interactive learning preschools in the UAE, please get in touch below.

Redwood Center of Excellence
Sponsored by
Redwood Center of Excellence
Discover the future of education at Redwood Center of Excellence, where an early childhood education in Dubai is redefined for a future-ready child.

Al Barsha, Dubai