Children as young as four are taught to read and write in several nations. Some don’t start until seven, though. What is the formula for sustained success?

Since early exposure to language is seen as crucial to a child’s success in the future, it is increasingly common for preschools to begin teaching children fundamental literacy skills even before they begin formal education. Not everybody likes to leave early. In some countries, formal education starts around the age of six. Children begin school in Finland at age seven, which is known for having the best-structured education system in the world. Despite this apparent difference, at the age of 15, Finnish students do better in reading comprehension than their US and UK counterparts. The Finnish kindergarten years are more play-focused and do not include any formal academic instruction. According to a 2009 University of Cambridge review that followed this model, enrolling five-year-olds in school too early could undermine their self-esteem and harm their ability to learn in the long run.

A 2002 study found that more dynamic, child-initiated early learning experiences appear to have boosted children’s ultimate academic success and that too-regimented learning may have slowed down growth. According to the study’s findings, pushing children too early can backfire when they enter the later primary school years.