Preschool interpersonal relationships predict kindergarten achievement: Mediated by gains in emotion knowledge
Using longitudinal data, this study tested a model in which preschool interpersonal relationships promoted kindergarten achievement in a pathway mediated by growth in emotion knowledge. The sample included 164 children attending Head Start (14% Hispanic-American, 30% African-American, 56% Caucasian; 56% girls). Preschool interpersonal relationships were indexed by student-teacher relationship closeness and positive peer interactions. Two measures of emotion knowledge (identifying emotions in photographs, recognizing emotions in stories) were assessed at the start and end of the preschool year. Structural equation models revealed that positive interpersonal relationships (with teachers and peers) predicted gains in emotion knowledge (identification, recognition) during the preschool year. Positive interpersonal relationships in preschool also predicted kindergarten achievement (controlling for initial preschool achievement); however, this association was mediated by gains in emotion knowledge during the preschool year. Implications are discussed for school readiness programs serving economically-disadvantaged children. (author abstract)
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