Kindergartners who share, cooperate and are helpful are more likely to have a college degree and a job 20 years later than children who lack those social skills, according to a new study.
Kids who get along well with others also are less likely to have substance-abuse problems and run-ins with the law.
The research, which involved tracking nearly 800 students for two decades, suggests that specific social-emotional skills among young children can be powerful predictors for success later in life.
“These are skills that probably portend their ability to do well in school, to pay attention and to navigate their environment,” said Damon E. Jones, a research assistant professor of health and human development at Pennsylvania State University. He was the lead author of the paper, published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.
Jones said the study suggests that early-childhood education programs and schools could identify children with weak social skills early on, when they are still very receptive to learning how to behave differently.