School readiness is important for a child’s future success both in the short-term and the long-term. Children who enter school with the essential academic, social and self-regulation skills to be ready to learn show higher academic achievement in school and get along better with the other children across the school years.
Children who are not ready for school may be more likely to have poorer academic achievement, be held back a grade, and need special education services. And their parents may not be as involved in school.
When they grow up, children who were better prepared for school go further with their education, and have better jobs, incomes, and physical health. They are also less likely than children with poor school readiness to be involved in substance use and crime and to become parents at an early age.
When children come to school ready to learn, the other students and teachers benefit. All children in a classroom tend to learn more if, on average, the children have higher skill levels. On the other hand, children in classrooms with students who have lower skills or are disruptive may not do as well. Teachers can give more attention to all their students if they do not have to stop to correct students who have low school readiness skills. They also feel better about their jobs which can make their teaching more effective.
Better school readiness in children can positively affect the community and society. Since children who are more ready for school tend to have better educational attainment, they can contribute to a more highly skilled workforce in their community which can attract other businesses, providing more jobs for everyone. Additionally, since children who had better school readiness are less likely to be involved in crime and to have better physical and mental health as adults, less money may be needed for criminal justice and social welfare programs. Since there are fewer material losses and pain and suffering when crime and substance use rates are reduced, high rates of school readiness can enhance the quality of life for all individuals living in a community.
In order for children to be able to learn, they need to be able to focus their attention, to persist at activities even if the task is difficult, and to control their own behavior and emotions. These are skills that are part of self-regulation. If children can’t do these things, they may not be able to listen to the teacher, to follow directions, and to get along with other children and adults. As adults, children with better self-regulation have better health, higher wealth, and less substance abuse.
Children who can get along well with their peers and adults tend to do better than children who do not get along with others. In school, these children have better adjustment, get in less trouble and are less aggressive to their peers. In adulthood, children who had better pro-social skills in kindergarten are more likely to graduate from high school and college, more likely to be employed full-time, and less likely to be arrested.
Parents are truly their children’s first teachers. How often parents do early learning activities such as reading and counting with their children before school starts can be predictive of how well children do academically. Parents can also help children have better self-regulation. Additionally, higher parent involvement in children’s activities once they start school, such as help with homework, can predict better academic achievement.