Social skills predict success in early grades, survey says

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Social skills are a better predictor of school success than academic skills, according to teachers in pre-kindergarten through third grade.


A survey highlights report is available on the PNC Web site.


That's one of the findings of the PNC Study of Early Childhood Education, released today by PNC Financial Services Group. The national study, done by Harris Interactive, included a survey of 1,001 parents with children age 8 or younger and 516 teachers in pre-kindergarten through third grade.

"Teachers and other experts in early childhood education agree that children are more likely to succeed in school if they have the social skills to participate and learn while in the classroom," said Eva Tansky Blum, PNC's director of community affairs and the PNC Grow Up Great Initiative.

The survey focused on the skills children need when they enter kindergarten.

Teachers viewed the children as less well-prepared in two important skills: being able to listen and follow rules and directions as well as being able to interact, play and share well with others.

They considered children to be more prepared for three other important social skills: having a good sense of confidence/self-esteem, having a desire for learning and being able to understand the difference between right and wrong.

Of the academic skills that the teachers considered less important, they said the children were more prepared in identifying objects by shape, size and color.

The children were considered less well-prepared to recognize numbers, count and do simple math; to read and write the letters of the alphabet; and to recognize common words or signs.

Overall, only 7 percent of teachers described children as extremely or very prepared for kindergarten; 66 percent said the children were somewhat prepared; and 25 percent said they were not very or not at all prepared.

Parents considered 25 percent of American children extremely or very well prepared, but it was a different story when it came to their own child.

For example, 84 percent of parents rated their own child as extremely or very well prepared in being able to understand the difference between right and wrong. Only 20 percent of the teachers did so for "today's children."

Parents and teachers gave their lowest rating to being able to read and write the letters of the alphabet. Of parents, 57 percent said their children were extremely or very well prepared; teachers said 8 percent.

Parents and teachers differed widely on how prepared the children were in each of nine academic or social skills.

If a child is not prepared when entering kindergarten, neither parents nor teachers thought it was easy to catch up.

Parents considered catching up an easier task than teachers did. The study showed 24 percent of parents said it was very or somewhat easy to catch up compared with 15 percent of teachers.

But most parents and teachers still thought it was somewhat or very difficult to catch up. The figures were 74 percent of teachers and 62 percent of parents.

Education writer Eleanor Chute can be reached at or 412-263-1955.


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