Behavior in Kindergarten linked to future success

   It sounds crazy, huh? The possibility of how we behave and interact with others during kindergarten could potentially predict the outcome of how successful we will be when we all grow up. According to” Study: Behavior in kindergarten linked to adult success,” by Kelly Wallace explained the results done on this exact study by The American Journal of Public Health.  A 20-year examination from kids in Kindergarten to their mid-twenties showed a link between their future success from their Kindergarten experiences.

To conduct this study, researches from Penn State University and Duke University looked at social competency skills which were evaluated in 1991 by the teachers. Teachers evaluated students based on, “factors such as whether they listened to others, shared materials, resolved problems with their peers and were helpful.” The skills were based on a scale of 0 to 4 which would mean 0 would lowest level of social skills and 4 being the highest and most positive level. According to Wallace with every point that a child increased made them more likely to obtain a college degree and 46% more likely to have a full time job by the age of 25. For every point that a child decreased on the scale of social skills Wallace explained that, “67% higher chance of having been arrested in early adulthood, a 52% higher rate of binge drinking and an 82% higher chance of being in or on a waiting list for public housing.”

Researchers found these findings to be surprising but not. They explain that they, “knew the importance of social and emotional competency in a child’s development, but didn’t quite expect to find as strong a correlation between those skills and a child’s long-term well-being, even with other variables factored out, such as a family’s socioeconomic status and the child’s academic ability.” This proves that while this experiment shows a correlation in social skills and future success, confunding variables can’t be ruled out. Social skills might be the difference to performance later in life but financial status and academic ability as well as disabilities and disorders could be a factor too.

As a result this study sparked the question of many parents wondering if their child scored low on the scale does that mean their child is at risk in the future? The answer was no. The researchers stated that, “Research greatly shows that these are the type of skills that are malleable, in fact much more malleable than say something like IQ or other things that are more likely traits that are more ingrained.” Essentially the skills that the children possess that make them successful are a result of reinforcement.

While results point to the fact that social skills play a role in success, this experiment is merely observational and can’t officially prove anything until they manipulate something. In my opinion I feel this experiment is due to chance and that kids that were very helpful and good listeners were successful by luck. But, more so by the influence of their families and peer groups. I was in Kindergarten twice due to the fact that my first year my social skills seemed to get in the way of learning and I was more concerned with making friends than what we were actually doing in class. However, my in second year of Kindergarten I excelled and did very well. If the experiment  is based on social skills then how is that they seemed to get in the way and cause a delay in my success? Shouldn’t my social skills have pushed me ahead of the rest? The experiment proves to be biased and suggests correlations that may not actually be there. Since there is no independent variable this study lacks the ability to full prove this correlational and rather just assumes that social skills are the cause of future success. With my example of my experiences in Kindergarten helps prove this bias.


4 thoughts on “Behavior in Kindergarten linked to future success

  1. Eric Choi

    Great read. This article caught my attention because I used to work as a camp counselor for kindergardeners. I found the use of your personal anecdote to be intriguing and unique. But remember, you shouldn’t use a single anecdote to prove anything (sorry if I sound too critical). I agree that there are way too many variables that can affect a child’s life all the way through his twenties. If scientists really wanted to expand on this topic, they should replicate their studies with randomized double-blind controlled experiments and submit their findings for peer review. It would be hard to pull a legit experiment since social skills come naturally and would be unethical to try to manipulate children’s social skills.

  2. Yu-ting Chien

    Nice topic! I have never think that there is a correlation between the behavior in kindergarten and future success. I am even surprised that the type of skills are malleable and even much more malleable than IQ or traits that are more ingrained. I have seen a lot of children who performed well in kindergarten and fail in the future job seeking. But I feel that there are still a lot of factors that would affect one’s development, such as the parents’ education and the social environment. It is just my own observation and I did not research for it. By the way, your blog is really interesting!

  3. Shunyi Yu

    Your post is very unique topic, and I agree with you that I think this experiment is by chance, I don’t think there is a definite relationship between this two. The social skills and emotional competency can be changed and improved, especially it is at the very early stage of one’s life. And I think there are also many other things such as country, education background, family, etc, which can change their path for future, As of me, I am the top student in kindergarten, but now I found myself very normal and have no advantage on social skills which is sad.

  4. Julia Hall

    This article was really interesting! I can see how certain characteristics that are shown at an early age can lead to success in the future. I know many kids in elementary school who were advanced for the age and are now going to ivy league schools. However, I agree that these findings could be due to chance. I feel like their social environment, whether they grow up in wealthy or poor area could effect the outcome. I also feel like their life experiences could effect it as well.

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