• Kindergarten Behavior Associated with Success in Later Life


    Research published this year in the American Journal of Public Health (Jones et al, 2015) documented the effects of positive social skills in kindergarteners on later success in terms of college graduation rates and full time employment at age 25. 

    Researchers at Penn State and Duke Universities asked kindergarten teachers to rate their students’ social competence in 1991.  They addressed behaviors such as listening to others, sharing materials, resolving problems with peers, and being helpful to others.  Students were rated from zero to four in terms of their skills in these areas.  Then follow-ups were conducted on the same individuals in early adulthood.  

    For each point increase in a child’s social competency score in kindergarten, they were twice as likely to have obtained a college degree and 46% more likely to have a full-time job by age 25.  For each point decrease in the competency score during kindergarten, the subject had a 67% higher chance of having been arrested in early adulthood, a 52% higher rate of binge drinking, and 82% higher chance of being on a waiting list for public housing.  These findings held up even when socioeconomic status and academic ability were factored out of the results.

    Thus it is critically important to incorporate social and emotional skill development in our early childhood programs to provide this foundation for later success.  Time devoted to these skills has consistently yielded benefits in current as well as later academic performance, contributes to safer schools, and improves students’ self-efficacy.  In the current climate focused on tests and Common Core curricula, it is important not to forget these essential elements of life success for all our students.