Observe her closely.
Before deciding whether to enroll your child, take notes on her behavior and development. "The most important thing you can do as a parent is to get to know your kid better," says Anatoly Belilovsky, M.D., medical director of the Belilovsky Pediatric Center, in New York City. This advice may sound obvious, but the fact is it's difficult to assess your child's abilities objectively. Maybe you couldn't wait to start school as a kid, so naturally you expect your child to inherit a similar sense of enthusiasm. Conversely, you may have cried every day for the first few weeks of kindergarten and worry that she'll revisit that traumatic experience. Perhaps you're concerned about the hefty expense of another year of preschool or simply hate the idea of holding her back.
Whatever the case, your job is to focus exclusively on your child's classroom skills. This doesn't merely mean whether she knows her ABCs but also whether she knows how to get along with her classmates. Ask her preschool teacher whether she plays cooperatively and works out her differences on her own. "Your child's social interaction with peers and adults is key to her kindergarten success," says Claire Haas, vice president of education for Kiddie Academy, a national education-based child-care provider. Also watch how your child interacts with her peers at birthday parties, on playdates, and in classes. If she's the only girl at ballet who sits on the sidelines while everybody else dances, or if it's virtually impossible to pry her off your leg at a group gathering, she might have a challenging adjustment period when she starts school.