PITTSBURGH (CBS) — Is your child ready for kindergarten or should you wait a year before enrolling him or her?

Though it can be a difficult decision, one expert explains what parents should look for in their children to help answer this age-old question.

Caren Pasquale’s twins, Trevor and Daniela turned 5 in July; but instead heading off to kindergarten, they’re staying in pre-school another year.

“I think my twins could handle kindergarten — I don’t think they would have a problem in kindergarten,” Pasquale added. “I just think one extra year of maturity will benefit them immensely.”

Her twins aren’t alone. Many parents with children who have summer birthdays are choosing to wait before sending their children to school.

Pediatrician Dr. Michelle Mayer says another year in preschool made a world of difference for her son, Joshua. “We have full day kindergarten,” Dr. Mayer explained. “They do a lot of sitting and a lot of listening and in my opinion it’s asking a lot of a 5-year-old boy to sit six hours a day and learn.”

It’s a growing trend in many suburban districts. Education consultant Susan Silverstein-Kaufman helps parents decide if their children are ready for school.

“Look at the skills they need to have in order to enter kindergarten — don’t look at the birth date,” Silverstein-Kaufman added. “With skills: Can they sit still? They have to be able to wait their turn, They have to be able to ask for help.”

Silverstein-Kaufman says parents also need to think long term and consider what it will be like for their child in the upper grades. “Kids develop at all different ages — 12, 13, 14-years old — there’s a whole other series of issues kids will be dealing with. I think to have the extra age and the extra maturity can only be helpful.”

But not all parents agree.

Connie Hernando’s son, Jordan, also turned 5-years-old in July; but she believes he’s ready for school. “It’s part of life,” Hernando explained. “If we automatically say ‘Stay back,’ we’re almost sending a message that we’re telling our child we think that we’re willing to fail.”

“If the skills are there,” Silverstein-Kaufman added, “then there’s no reason to keep your child out of kindergarten.”

But some parents believe it can only help.

“In all my years of experience as a pediatrician,” Mayer added, “I have never had a parent tell me they regretted holding their child back.”

Most school districts have birthday cut-offs for being able to enroll in public school kindergarten. Parents whose children miss the cut-off but are ready for school can get around this by enrolling their children in private kindergarten.

Back To School
Pre-School Reading Programs
“Community Outreach Eases Transition To Kindergarten,” 8/25/11

Watch & Listen LIVE