In today’s New York Times there is an article about the increasing movement to hold your child back and start kindergarten a year after they are eligible. Parents site reasons like their kids will do better in high school sports, to they have a better chance to be at the top of the class academically because they are one of the oldest.

One of the problems is that with parents holding their kids back just to give them a leg up, it creates an environment where there is a year and a half age span as well as a wide range of social emotional development within a class. That is tough for kids and teachers to deal with. Also, some districts are strict about the cutoff date and don’t allow parents such an option. Not every parent can afford an extra year of preschool.

Certainly it is important to look at each individual child and assess, with the help of their knowledgeable preschool teachers, whether they are “ready” for kindergarten. Readiness comes in many areas. If you talk to kindergarten teachers they will tell you that they would rather a child have some of the emotional maturity and social skills than know their alphabet or even be reading. “I’ll take a child who can sit and raise their hand over one that can show off academic skills any day,” said a psychologist who worked in a public elementary school. In the past I have been on both sides of kindergarten screening–as a speech therapist who assessed kids’ language readiness skills, and as a parent whose kids were screened in 5 areas to counsel parents on their child’s readiness. One of my three “failed”–my November birthday was assessed as needing more time to mature socially. I took their advice and watched his friend of the same age begin kindergarten and then repeat it the next year. Perhaps I made the right decision.

Anyways, it is such a delicate subject and needs to be addressed on a personal basis with input from professionals who know and work with your child whom you can trust to guide you.