A new study recently published suggests that attentiveness in kindergarten can accurately predict the child's work-oriented behavior throughout the rest of their school years and throughout their entire lives. This conclusion came after years of analysis and observation from elementary school homeroom teachers. For a young child, the classroom is the work place, so skills obtained there are translated directly to their adult workplaces. This study places even more focus on the importance of early education in shaping a more productive society.
The multi-year study was published by Dr. Linda Pagani, professor from the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine. The children who were observed for the study all attended kindergarten in Montreal's poorest neighborhoods. This was to ensure that socio-economic factors could be minimized in the final analysis.
The study began with observations made by kindergarten teachers for over one thousand students. Observations continued every year up to 6th grade by the students' homeroom teachers. These teachers would rate the kids by how well they worked on their own and with their classmates. They also rated their levels of self-control, self-confidence, and their ability to follow rules and directions.
"Children who are more likely to work autonomously and harmoniously with fellow classmates, with good self-control and confidence, and who follow directions and rules are more likely to continue such productive behaviors into the adult workplace," said Dr. Pagani. "In child psychology, we call this the developmental evolution of work-oriented skills, from childhood to adulthood."
After analysis of all the teacher observations, the researchers could split up the children into three groups: those with high, medium, and low classroom engagement. They found that children in the low category were predominantly boys, aggressive children, and children with cognitive difficulties.
"There are important life risks associated with attention deficits in childhood, which include high-school dropout, unemployment, and problematic substance abuse." Pagani said. "Our findings make a compelling case for early identification and treatment of attention problems, as early remediation represents the least costly form of intervention. Universal approaches to bolstering attention skills in kindergarten might translate into stable and productive pathways toward learning."
The study has been published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.