A new article in Early Childhood Research Quarterly investigates two aspects of children's school readiness: interest in new cognitive tasks and persistence in task completion. The study examined these two behaviours at ages one, two, and three in a large multi-site sample, using data on 1,771 low-income children taken from the US Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project. The authors looked at whether interest and persistence are linked to academic skills at school entry, and found that children's interest and persistence at age three predicted academic achievement at age five.
The article also explored the impact of parenting on these behaviours. During videotaped play sessions, mothers were rated on scales of sensitivity (taking the child's perspective, accurate perception of the child's signals, prompt and appropriate responses to these signals), and stimulation of cognitive development (teaching or actively trying to expand the child's abilities). The authors found that maternal supportiveness predicted higher levels of interest and persistence between the ages of one and three, with both behaviours more responsive to parenting between ages one and two than two and three.
Children from underprivileged backgrounds generally enter school lagging behind their peers on a range of indicators. The article concludes that although relatively little attention has been paid to the early development of these particular learning behaviours – interest and persistence – they might prove worthy of intervention before school entry, particularly when children are aged one
Source: Longitudinal Associations Among Interest, Persistence, Supportive Parenting, and Achievement in Early Childhood (2013),Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(4).