Potentially one of the most important decisions a parent can make: when their child should begin schooling? When should kids start kindergarten? And just how big a difference does it make to begin one year instead of another?

In the USA, it is common for parents to begin to think about sending their children to school sometime between the late 4 to early 7 years old. The World Bank lists the average school starting age to be 6 years old in the USA. Although it is becoming a trend to send children to school at a younger and younger age, and different states have adopted different laws about how young they will begin accepting students.

There are lots of factors involved in deciding when is the right time to start sending your child to school. Or if you’re going to send them away to school at all (hello all you lovely homeschoolers!). It is often recommended that asking preschool teachers and/or pediatricians on whether they believe your child is ready to begin kindergarten is a wise choice, as they provide a much less biased opinion and have seen a wide variety of children.

Besides these two inputs, it is widely recognized the signs of kids being ready for Kindergarten when you can check off the following points: they can follow simple directions, use the bathroom by themselves, recognize some letters and numbers, gets along with other children/enjoys being social, and of course, when they express interest in starting school and learning.

However, some of these traits simply can’t be boxed into and label by age. Kids develop at their own rate, and Cubic Frog® believes little ones should have the time and space to do so.

So what does it mean to start school later? To answer this question we first sought out the schools with the highest literacy rates in the world. The places where the highest percentage of the population is able to read. Then, we compared the most literate countries with the average age children started school or kids start kindergarten.

It’s also important to keep in mind, with USA’s average school age being 6, we have a literacy rate of 88.6%.

Countries Top Ranking in Literacy / Average Age for Beginning School

Andorra 100% / 6

Norway 100% / 6

Finland 100% / 7

Liechtenstein 100% / 7

Luxembourg 100% / 6

Azerbaijan 99.8% / 6

Latvia 99.8% / 7

Cuba 99.8% / 6

Lithuania 99.8% / 7

Poland 99.7% / 7

What we’ve found is, firstly, the USA has a surprisingly low literacy rate and secondly that half of the countries with the highest literacy rate didn’t begin kindergarten until the age of 7! That’s two or more years after little ones in the USA! And any parent of a preschooler will tell you, two years makes a world of a difference!

These numbers suggest there’s some parental space for deep breathing and relaxing about when is the right time for kids start kindergarten. In fact, there is no direct correlation between starting school at a very young age and reading ability. It’s just the opposite.

Our Cubic Frog® opinion is that kids have lots to learn when they’re little, but some of the most important lessons aren’t those in the classroom, they’re in experiencing a prolonged school-less childhood filled to the brim with play.