More to Consider
Q. Will holding my child back give her an academic edge?
A. Yes and no. A research review of 15,000 children conducted by the Rand Corporation found that for some kids, delaying entry from age 5 to 6 did raise early test scores. But the National Association for the Education of Young Children says that on average waiting a year has no long-term effect, and while older kids score better initially, any age advantage disappears by third grade. Bottom line: "Giving a child an academic edge is the wrong reason to take a bonus year," says Bruce. "Place your child in school when she feels comfortably challenged with the curriculum, not when you think she'll be the smartest in her class."
Q. If my kid has been in preschool, does that mean he's ready?
A. "It usually does because preschool teaches kids readiness skills like how to get along with others -- and it gets them used to the structure of a school day," says LeeKeenan. If your child hasn't been to preschool or hasn't socialized in a playgroup, tell the teacher. A good kindergarten teacher should be able to help your kid catch up.
Q. Should my child's personality or height affect my decision?
A. Temperament doesn't change, so a bonus year won't make a shy child outgoing, says Bruce. Similarly, you shouldn't hold your kid back if he's smaller than his peers. Many experts cringe when they hear about fathers who want to hold back their sons just so they'll do better in sports.
Q. What else should we consider?
A. Kids born prematurely often need extra time, since they tend to develop a little later than their peers, says LeeKeenan. Some parents also believe gender is important, arguing that boys lag a few months behind girls developmentally. "But it evens out eventually," she says. Another factor to consider is what your kid will do during a bonus year: A prekindergarten program is helpful, but if she's just going to stay home, she'd probably be better off at school. Some experts think that teaching -- not maturity -- stimulates development. For example, the National Association for the Education of Young Children suggests that holding a prepared kid back may not so much give her a gift of time as rob her of an opportunity.