From day one of becoming a parent, we're giving it our all to provide our kids with the best that we can, anything we can muster up to give them a head start in life. Finding the "right" preschool or elementary school (if you live in a city or neighborhood with lots of choices) can feel downright overwhelming. We want our children to succeed, and it feels like everyone has an opinion on how to get the job done.
A study 19 years in the making suggests that what actually gives a child a leg up in life isn't necessarily all about the best in academics, but rather a keen sense of social emotional well-being.
This research, published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2015, found that the higher the level of social and emotional skills in a child, the better their chance of attending college and securing a full-time job after graduation.
The study was conducted by teams from both Penn State and Duke University who initially set out to interview kindergarten teachers regarding their students' social and emotional development. They offered their takes on how well these children shared, listened to others, resolved problems, acted in a helpful manner. Years later the teams caught up with the kids as adults to see their lives panned out. Interestingly, they found the students with the highest social and emotional competency scores in kindergarten were seemingly most successful.
On the other end of the spectrum, the students who had been noted to have difficulty resolving conflicts with their peers, cooperating, and listening were unfortunately not as likely to finish high school. They also tended to have more problems with the law and substance abuse issues later in life.
So, you see, just because that child sitting next to yours in kindergarten is already reading flawlessly, it doesn't necessarily mean he or she will become valedictorian unless their social and emotional skills are also on point.
In an article addressing social and emotional development for Inc.com, Amy Morin, who authored
It's never too late to incorporate these teachings into your everyday life. Yes, reading to your child is incredibly important, but so is nurturing their minds and emotional health.