Abstract: School Readiness: Testing a Translational Prevention Model (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

360 School Readiness: Testing a Translational Prevention Model

Thursday, May 30, 2019
Garden Room B (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Amanda M. Griffin, PhD, Post Doctoral Fellow, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Leslie Leve, PhD, Associate Director of the Prevention Science Institute; Professor of Counseling Psychology and Human Services, Prevention Science Institute, Eugene, OR
Daniel S. Shaw, PhD, Professor and Chair, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
David Reiss, MD, Clinical Professor, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Jody M. Ganiban, PhD, Professor, George Washington University, Washington, DC
Misaki N. Natsuaki, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA
Jenae M. Neiderhiser, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Introduction: School readiness is often defined as the academic and social competencies children possess when they enter school (e.g., Mashburn & Pianta, 2006). Developmental and genetically informed designs indicate that school readiness is shaped by dynamic processes that include heritable and non-heritable aspects of child characteristics, interpersonal relationships, and environmental contexts. The present study tested an integrative model that incorporated genetic influences on child characteristics and peer relationships hypothesized to shape school readiness and subsequent academic achievement. We examined the influence of two components of school readiness—effortful control and cooperative peer relationships.

Method: We used data from the Early Growth and Development Study, a longitudinal study of adoptive families (N=561). Effortful control (assessed with adoptive parent report on the Children’s Behavior Questionnaire at 4.5 and 6 years) and child cooperative play (assessed with adoptive parent report on the Pennsylvania Interactive Peer Play Scale at 4.5 and 6 years), were conceptualized as indexing cognitive and social domains of school readiness, respectively. Heritable influences were indexed with a birth parent agreeableness temperament factor measured with the Adult Temperament Questionnaire, Temperament and Character Inventory, and Harter Adult Self-Perception Profile. Child school achievement was assessed with the reading and math fluency scale from the Woodcock–Johnson Tests of Achievement at age 7.

Results: Birth parent agreeableness was directly associated with child effortful control (b = 0.10, p<.01) and cooperative peer play at 4.5 years (b = 0.11, p<.05). In addition to stability in child effortful control (b = 0.58, p<.01) and cooperative peer play (b=0.64, p<.01) from 4.5 to 6 years, child effortful control at 4.5 years elicited cooperative peer play at 6 years (b = 0.13, p<.01) and cooperative peer play at 4.5 years elicited child effortful control at 6 years (b = 0.16, p<.01). However, only child effortful control at age 6 was associated with subsequent reading (b = 0.23, p<.05) and math fluency (b = 0.20, p<.05). The direct effect of birth parent agreeableness on child effortful control and cooperative peer play indirectly conferred a protective effect on effortful control (b = 0.02, p<.01) and cooperatively peer play (b = 0.05, p<.01) at age 6. However, there was no indirect effect of birth parent agreeableness on reading and math fluency at age 7.

Discussion: These findings provide evidence of a heritable bidirectional relationship between early effortful control and cooperative peer play. Future research should take an integrative approach that examines the influence of heritable aspects of child characteristics on school readiness.