In July 2015, the American Journal of Public Health published the results of a study that found children’s social and emotional skills in kindergarten are associated with long-term success.
The longitudinal study rated kindergarteners’ chances of success in young adulthood based on their levels of social competency at age five. These competencies, often known as pro-social skills, include skills such as the ability to share materials, resolve peer problems, cooperate, and listen.
The study found that a higher rating for social competency in kindergarten was significantly associated with all four outcomes studied: graduating from high school on-time, completing a college degree, obtaining stable employment in young adulthood, and being employed full time in young adulthood. For every one-point increase in a student’s social competency score, he or she was twice as likely to graduate from college and 46 percent more likely to have a full time job by the age of 25. Early pro-social skills also were significantly predictive of lack of involvement with police before adulthood.
The good news is, pro-social skills are something we can impact. The study noted that, “much evidence has shown how effective intervention in pre-school and early elementary years can improve childhood noncognitive skills in a lasting way. Enhancing these skills therefore has potential for positively affecting individuals as well as community public health substantially.”
Playworks does just that. Independent studies of our programs conducted since 2011 have repeatedly proven the effectiveness of our services to teach social and emotional skills and improve the learning environment.
For example, a study published last year in the Journal of School Health showed that Playworks improved the overall school climate in just one year by offering opportunities for pro-social skill development, student engagement, and conflict resolution.
Another study published in the same journal showed that after one year of exposure to Playworks, students showed statistically significant increases in physical activity levels, problem-solving skills, feelings of meaningful participation in school, and positive feelings about their own personal goals and aspirations. These gains accrued every year that students were exposed to Playworks, increasing over time.
Through safe, healthy play, children learn social and emotional skills. Playworks is changing the education system by demonstrating the enormous impact play can have on a child’s experience at school, every single day.
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