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Why Force Them? Not All 5-Year-Olds Are Ready for School

by Scott Woodruff • February 19, 2019

A committee of the Illinois Legislature recently voted to send a bill to the Senate floor that would lower the age of compulsory school attendance from 6 to 5.

If enacted, parents would lose the right to decide for themselves whether their 5-year-old is ready for school. Homeschool Legal Defense Association and others, including Illinois Christian Home Educators, oppose Senate Bill 2075, and are fighting to defeat it.

While the proponents of such bills may sincerely believe that requiring children to start school at an earlier age will help them, those beliefs are powerfully contradicted by the available evidence. Decades of research tell us that forcing younger children into formal educational settings not only produces no long-term benefits, but in many cases causes harm.

Studies have shown that children who start school too early are more likely to be overactive and have trouble paying attention, and may develop vision problems.

In spite of this, one Illinois lawmaker has been quoted as saying he wants compulsory school attendance to begin at 3 years of age. This would not be unprecedented. Several years ago a bill was filed in Washington, D.C., to reduce the mandatory starting age to 2 years and 9 months.

We expect the Illinois Senate to vote on S.B. 20175 any day now.

We may be fighting for childhood itself, not just for 5-year-olds.

Scott Woodruff

Senior Counsel

Scott is a seasoned attorney and homeschool advocate with decades of involvement in homeschool legal issues and cases. Read more.

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