Socioemotional versus Academic Emphasis: Impact on Kindergartners’ Development and Achievement

Differential effects of academically focused versus socioemotional kindergartens were assessed for a range of developmental domains and early skills acquisition in two cohorts of inner city kindergartners. The sample of 307 children was 94% African American and 48% female, with 75% qualifying for subsidized lunch programs and 57% living in single parent homes.
Results indicated a detrimental impact of an overly academic kindergarten emphasis on young boys’ development and school achievement. Although girls were found to be developmentally more ready than boys for academic experiences, they actually achieved greater mastery of basic skills when enrolled in kindergartens that valued socioemotional development. The role of evaluative research in fostering policy change was discussed.

Differential effects of academically focused versus socioemotional kindergartens were assessed for a range of developmental domains and early skills acquisition in two cohorts of inner city kindergartners. The sample of 307 children was 94% African American and 48% female, with 75% qualifying for subsidized lunch programs and 57% living in single parent homes.
Results indicated a detrimental impact of an overly academic kindergarten emphasis on young boys’ development and school achievement. Although girls were found to be developmentally more ready than boys for academic experiences, they actually achieved greater mastery of basic skills when enrolled in kindergartens that valued socioemotional development. The role of evaluative research in fostering policy change was discussed.

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