This has happened a few times recently. I write a post about a topic, in this case attention, and then in the next day or two an article or study comes out relevant to that very topic. Maybe I should write a post about me winning the lottery...
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. According to the article, kids assessed with poor attention in kindergarten were found to score significantly lower on high school tests later on, even when many other factors are considered. Regardless of other behavioral problems, mental health issues, or IQ, attention problems at an early age negatively impacted a child’s academic performance later on. From the article:
The researchers found that inattentiveness in kindergarten was the only behavior that consistently predicted lower scores on reading and math achievement tests administered more than a decade later.
What’s interesting about this research is how attention came out so strongly, in terms of a consistent factor. Other issues, such as anxiety, depression, and aggression, do not appear to have consistently impaired children’s later academic achievement. As the article later notes, this provides further guidance on prioritizing issues impacting students, with attention problems being a key concern. In addition, the article notes that attention problems do not necessary mean Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - there are multiple reasons a child is having difficulty with attention. The important thing is that if a child is displaying significant problems with attention in academic settings, the results of this study suggest we shouldn’t wait to see if he or she “grows out of it;” the association between the early attention problems and later difficulties is too strong.