Original Research

Ready or not: Kindergarten classroom engagement as an indicator of child school readiness

Caroline Fitzpatrick
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 2, No 1 | a19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v2i1.19 | © 2012 Caroline Fitzpatrick | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 April 2014 | Published: 01 July 2012

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Caroline Fitzpatrick, McGill University Montreal, Canada

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Children’s preparedness for school is an important predictor of their eventual academic attainment, health, and personal success well into adulthood. Although kindergarten knowledge of numbers and vocabulary represent robust indicators of children’s readiness to learn at school entry, theory and research suggest that self-directed learning skills are also important in meeting the challenges of the elementary school classroom. This review examines evidence related to the potential benefits (e.g. improving children’s academic outcomes) of targeting classroom engagement skills, a person-environment fit characteristic reflecting task-orientation and industriousness. Reviewed studies suggest that classroom engagement skills are malleable and robust predictors of later elementary school achievement. Research also suggests that cognitive control skills in the form of executive functions are likely to underlie individual differences in classroom engagement. This paper provides evidence that developing pre-school and kindergarten curriculum that target cognitive control can be a useful strategy for enhancing student engagement behaviour. Developing early interventions that bolster school readiness can then help social impairments in childhood and adolescence.


school readiness; cognitive control; classroom engagement; learning-related behaviour; academic achievement; psycho-social adjustment.


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