chapter  6
28 Pages

The Influence of Demographic Risk Factors on Children’s Behavioral Regulation in Prekindergarten and Kindergarten

ByShannon B. Wanless, Megan M. McClelland, Shauna L. Tominey, Alan C. Acock

Academic achievement gaps that are present at preschool entry have been found to persist, and in some cases to widen, across the transition to formal schooling (Alexander & Entwisle, 1988; Heckman, 2006). Demographic risk factors, such as low family income and being an English language learner (ELL), have been linked to these differences (Duncan & Brooks-Gunn, 1997; Reardon & Galindo, 2006a). In particular, having an accumulation of risk factors has been related to significant academic deficits (Gutman, Sameroff, & Cole, 2003). Although it is important to understand how demographic factors influence early academic skills, it is also critical to consider how these factors relate to behavioral regulation (including working memory, attention, and inhibitory control), which is a key component of school readiness (Lewit & Baker, 1995; National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2004). In fact, early behavioral regulation has been found to predict long-term school success as measured by academic achievement and high school and college graduation rates (Blair, 2002; Cooper & Farran, 1988; McClelland, Acock, & Morrison, 2006; McClelland, Piccinin, & Stallings, 2009; Vitaro, Brendgen, Larose, & Tremblay, 2005).