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A 20-Year Longitudinal Study Finds Social Skills of Kindergartners Predict Future Health and Well-Be

In July 2015, The American Journal of Public Health published a 20-year longitudinal study that looked at the impact of the social skills of kindergartners on their future success and well-being. The study, found that:

In this study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

  • The teachers used a five - point scale (from "not at all" to "very well"), to assess the following five social competencies:

  1. Resolves peer problems

  2. Listens to others

  3. Shares materials

  4. Cooperates

  5. Is helpful

  • The survey population was a random sampling of 753 kindergartners from Durham, NC; Nashville, TN; Seattle, WA; and a group of towns in central Pennsylvania.

  • The findings are based on the students being tracked and interviewed for 20 years after their initial assessment in kindergarten.

Study Conclusion

“This research study shows us that young children with more developed social competence skills are more likely to live healthier, successful lives as adults through the education and jobs they attain and their overall quality of life. Building on existing research that shows links between social-emotional development and outcomes in adulthood, this study helps make a stronger case for recognizing children’s social competence as an essential building block in any Culture of Health.”

As parents are the single most significant factor in the social competencies that their children develop, effective parenting skills are critical to:

  • The health and well-being of individual children

  • The adults they will become

  • Our society as a whole

Our Starting Point is working to connect parents with local parenting education resources by developing a database of parenting education programs throughout the country that will be available on our website and searchable by zip code. In the meantime:

1. We are starting a conversation about the character traits we want our children and the next of generation of adults to have.

2. Please let us know the character traits you believe are important. Tweet, post, text, email, fax, or call. Do you want your children to have integrity, empathy, or resilience? Perhaps having a strong work ethic, or being responsible, respectful, faithful, or a life-long learner matter in your family. We will:

a. Compile your responses and share the list.

b. Provide weekly “Tuesday Tips” with ideas you can use to help develop those character traits.

3. If you’d like to find parenting education and support resources in your community, your schools’ guidance office, the local hospital, or town clerk may be able to provide some direction. If you have trouble finding resources in your community, please contact us and we will work to help you find those resources.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Further information on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Study can be found at:

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