The Impact of Parenting Practices and Early Childhood Curricula on Children's Academic Achievement and Social Competence
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Current research highlights the importance of early social competence for later academic success. Nevertheless, despite that documented importance, the emphasis in both policy and practice has been on academic achievement in early learning curricula. The proposed research had three objectives: 1) to understand how parenting behaviors toward children in kindergarten influence their academic achievement in third grade, 2) to understand how curriculum in kindergarten influences academic achievement in third grade, and 3) to ascertain whether social competence mediates the relationship between parenting factors in kindergarten and academic achievement in third grade and curriculum factors in kindergarten and academic achievement in the third grade. Data are drawn for the period 1998-2003 from an existing data set, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study - Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K) and analyzed using multiple regression analyses. After controlling for background characteristics and academic achievement in kindergarten, these analyses revealed that the presence of spanking in kindergarten was significantly related to academic achievement in third grade. The presence of spanking in kindergarten was also related to children's learning related skills in third grade. Spanking and higher levels of warmth in kindergarten were related to children's interpersonal skills in third grade. Curriculum in kindergarten was unrelated to third grade academic achievement, social competence, and behavior problems. Social competence in third grade was related to academic achievement in third grade, while behavior problems were not. Finally, social competence mediated the relationship between spanking in kindergarten and academic achievement in third grade.