Unfortunately, it's not always an easy call. "There's more to consider than just what happens in the classroom that first year of school," says Karen Economopoulos, a former kindergarten teacher who creates elementary-school curricula for TERC, a nonprofit educational organization in Cambridge, MA. If you enter your child early, will he be the last in his class to get a driver's license? If you hold her back, will she be the first to start her period?
Though deciding can be tough, you can take comfort in knowing that there's no "right" answer: What works for one child may not for another, and there are trade-offs inherent in every choice. The important thing, as parents who have struggled with this issue will attest, is to ask yourself some key questions, then use the answers to draw a conclusion that your youngster -- and you -- will be happy with.