Early maths achievement predicts later success

A recent paper in Education Researcher has found that children’s preschool mathematical knowledge and, even more so, their early mathematical progress, are significant predictors of later achievement.

The study investigated achievement in mathematics from age 4½ to 15 and found substantial statistically significant associations between preschool mathematical ability and adolescent mathematics achievement. This was the case even after controlling for general cognitive developmental levels and a host of relevant demographic, parental, and child variables.

Researchers also tested the association between early gains in mathematical skills (between age 4½ and first grade/Year 1) and later achievement. Gains in early mathematical knowledge were even more predictive of age 15 mathematics achievement than was found for preschool knowledge.

The study used data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD). The full sample of the NICHD SECCYD data set included 1,364 children born in 1991 in 10 urban and rural areas across the United States.

Source: What’s Past Is Prologue. Relations Between Early Mathematics Knowledge and High School Achievement (2014), Educational Researcher 43(7)

Healthy relationships send teenagers to sleep

What has the largest influence on teenagers’ sleep habits? A study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviors explored this topic and found that social factors (eg, relationships with parents and peers) outperform developmental factors (eg, the timing of puberty and resultant drops in melatonin) in determining sleep patterns.

The study draws on the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, a longitudinal study of children’s physical, cognitive, and social development. The sample was 974 teenagers who reported on their own sleep habits at ages 12 and 15. They also reported on social ties (eg, parental support, peer relationships), academic demands, and daily schedules, and their mothers reported on family structure and children’s physical development.

Findings showed that as children age from Year 7 to age 15, sleep duration on a school night declines from more than nine to a little less than eight hours per night, and reports of disrupted sleep increase over the interval. Generally, stressful social ties (eg, when family composition changes because of divorce or remarriage) were shown to disrupt sleep. Teenagers had healthier sleep (longer duration and of higher quality) when social ties were a source of support, such as when they felt part of the schools they attended or they were surrounded by academically oriented and prosocial friends.

Source: Social Ties and Adolescent Sleep Disruption (2013), Journal of Health and Social Behaviors, 54(4).