The Gift of an Extra Year to Grow

As schools around the world require children to master academic skills at younger ages, a new study by Harvard Medical School researchers has found that the youngest children in their class are more likely to struggle with behavior in the classroom and are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than their older peers.

“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,” says study lead author Timothy Layton, assistant professor of health care policy in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School.

In addition to waiting to introduce academic subjects until first grade, many Waldorf schools have first grade cut-off dates much earlier in the year than is commonly found in other school settings. As a result, Waldorf students tend to be three to six months older than students in other schools upon entering first grade. This extra time allows young children to mature and become firmly ready to participate in the classroom setting, which leads to a well-managed classroom and the full delivery of the curriculum.

A summary of the Harvard findings can be found here: