Helping young children learn to pay attention and stay focused should be seen as an integral part of primary teaching jobs, the findings of new research suggest.
At present, many parents, as well as primary school teachers, focus on equipping children with strong numeracy and literacy skills from an early age in an effort to kick-start their academic development.
However, according to a team working at Oregon State University, the focus should instead be placed on teaching children how to concentrate and not get distracted, with this key behavioural skill likely to stand a child in better stead than any number of maths of English lessons.
Indeed, the team's research, which saw the development of 430 children tracked over a 20 year period, found that young children who are better at concentrating, taking directions from their elders and persisting with a task even if they come across difficulties, tend to be 50 per cent more likely to go on and obtain a degree than those youngsters who struggle to stay focused.
Writing up their findings in the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly, the scientists explained that the ability to pay attention and finish tasks at the age of four or five is a more effective predictor for future academic development than a child's ability to read, write or play a musical instrument, something parents as well as professionals working in primary teaching jobs are recommended to take on board.
"The earlier that educators and parents can intervene, the more likely a child can succeed academically," noted Megan McClelland, one of the authors of the research paper.
This comes as the Welsh Conservative Party steps up its calls for children to be taught at least one foreign language from the age of seven, arguing that getting pupils started earlier in their school life will help boost the number of youngsters taking languages up to and beyond GCSE level and ultimately give them a greater chance in a globalised marketplace
Posted by Theo Foulds