Children would not start school until the age of seven under a policy being launched today by the Scottish Greens.
Infants would instead attend a “creative play” Nordic-style kindergarten rather than formal classes.
Campaigners believe the system – similar to the approach taken in Finland and Norway – would improve wellbeing and attainment in later years.
Scottish Greens education spokesperson Ross Greer MSP said: “The pandemic and home learning have shone a light on the importance of children’s wellbeing.
“As we turn towards the recovery, we should seize the opportunity to leave behind the least effective parts of our education system.
“We can replicate the success of countries such as Finland if we replace our current situation, where children start formal schooling at as young as four, with a kindergarten stage followed by primary school from age seven.
“This is the opposite of the Scottish Government’s current approach, which has included the introduction of standardised tests in primary one.”
The policy launch follows a report written for the Scottish Greens last year by professor Mark Priestley and Dr Kylie Bradfield.
Sue Palmer, chair of Upstart Scotland, which campaigns for a kindergarten stage, said: “It’s a great step forward to see the call for kindergarten stage in a mainstream party manifesto and we’re hugely grateful to the Scottish Greens for their support.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland’s curriculum is already rooted in play for the early years, with a strong focus on ensuring all children benefit from rich outdoor learning experiences.
We have no plans to change the school starting age.”