Original Research

Preschool cognitive control and family adversity predict the evolution of classroom engagement in elementary school

Caroline Fitzpatrick, Isabelle Archambault, Tracie Barnett, Linda Pagani
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 10, No 1 | a803 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v10i1.803 | © 2020 Caroline Fitzpatrick, Isabelle Archambault, Tracie Barnett, Linda Pagani | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 August 2019 | Published: 14 July 2020

About the author(s)

Caroline Fitzpatrick, Department of Social Sciences, Université Sainte-Anne, Pointe-de-l’Église, Canada, South Africa; and, Centre of Education Practice Research, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Isabelle Archambault, École de Psychoéducation, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada
Tracie Barnett, Department of Epidemiology, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, Quebec, Canada
Linda Pagani, École de Psychoéducation, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada


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Abstract

Background: Classroom engagement is key predictor of child academic success.

Aim: The objective of the study was to examine how preschool cognitive control and the experience of family adversity predict developmental trajectories of classroom engagement through elementary school.

Setting: Children were followed in the context of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development from birth to age 10.5 (N = 1589).

Methods: Working memory was directly assessed when children were 3 years old and mothers reported child impulsivity, parenting characteristics, stress and social support when children were 4 years old. Elementary school teachers rated classroom engagement from kindergarten through Grade 4.

Results: Growth mixture modelling identified three distinct trajectories of classroom engagement. Child working memory and impulsivity, and maternal hostility, social support and stress predicted greater odds of belonging to the low versus high engagement trajectory. Child impulsivity and maternal hostility and stress also distinguished between the low and moderate engagement trajectories.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that targeting preschool cognitive control and buffering the effects of family adversity on children may facilitate academic success.


Keywords

classroom engagement; learning-related behaviour; working memory; impulsivity; parenting; parental stress; person-centred

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