FOUNDATION FOR ECONOMIC EDUCATION – For some children, especially those who are among the youngest in their grade, kindergarten enrollment can lead to higher rates of ADHD diagnosis and treatment.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School published a 2018 study in the New England Journal of Medicine finding that in states with a September 1st kindergarten age cut-off date, those children who were born in August and had just turned five-years-old were 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than their older peers in the same grade.
This shouldn’t be particularly surprising to those of us who are parents.
We observe first-hand the big difference in attentiveness between a newly-minted five-year-old and a child who is about to turn six. One year matters a lot in early childhood development.
“Moreover, the Harvard researchers found that boys were more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD, and many were treated with potent psychotropic medications.”
As Timothy Laton, the study’s lead researcher at Harvard, stated:
“Our findings suggest the possibility that large numbers of kids are being overdiagnosed and overtreated for ADHD because they happen to be relatively immature compared to their older classmates in the early years of elementary school.”
Parents should be able to have full discretion over whether or not to enroll their child in kindergarten, especially if their child is young or immature for his or her age, rather than it becoming a universal, government-imposed requirement.