Lifelong payoff for attentive kindergarten kids

January 30, 2012

Attentiveness in kindergarten accurately predicts the development of "work-oriented" skills in school children, according to a new study published by Dr. Linda Pagani, a professor and researcher at the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine.

Elementary school teachers made observations of attention skills in over a thousand . Then, from grades 1 to 6, homeroom teachers rated how well the children worked both autonomously and with fellow classmates, their levels of self-control and self-confidence, and their ability to follow directions and rules. "For children, the classroom is the workplace, and this is why productive, task-oriented behaviour in that context later translates to the ," Pagani said. "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. In , we call this the developmental evolution of work-oriented skills, from childhood to adulthood."

All the children attended kindergarten in the poorest neighborhoods of Montreal, and their teachers used a carefully constructed observational scale to score them on their attentiveness skills. Over time, the researchers identified the evolution of three groups of children: those with high, medium, and low classroom engagement. All analyses were reviewed to take into account various explanations for the link that was observed between kindergarten attention and classroom engagement. "Teachers spend many hours per day in school-related activities and can therefore reliably report on them," Pagani explained. The researchers found that boys, aggressive children, and children with lower in kindergarten were much more likely to belong to the low trajectory.

"There are important life risks associated with 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 researchers noted that the next step would be to undertake further study into how specifically the classroom environment influences children's spans.

Explore further: Study: Kindergarten friendships matter, especially for boys

More information: The study was published online by the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, (the official publication of the International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology), on January 13, 2011.

Related Stories

Study: Kindergarten friendships matter, especially for boys

November 29, 2011

High-quality friendships in kindergarten may mean that boys will have fewer behavior problems and better social skills in first and third grades, said Nancy McElwain, a University of Illinois associate professor of human ...

Recommended for you

Men more likely to be seen as 'creative thinkers'

September 28, 2015

People tend to associate the ability to think creatively with stereotypical masculine qualities, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The findings ...

Babies time their smiles to make their moms smile in return

September 23, 2015

Why do babies smile when they interact with their parents? Could their smiles have a purpose? In the Sept. 23 issue of PLOS ONE, a team of computer scientists, roboticists and developmental psychologists confirm what most ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.