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Preschool Math Skill Predicts Success

Controversial Study Says Math, Reading Skills Matter More Than Behavior

Teaching School Readiness continued...

Duncan does not advocate preschool calculus classes. But he insists that his study points to the need for research into the best ways to improve preschoolers' early math and reading skills.

"It would be very interesting to see if reading and math interventions affected math and reading much later on -- to see if more complicated skills in third grade are boosted as well," he says. "We need to have a cupboard-full of evaluations of the various curricula that extend beyond the end of the programs themselves to see if there are lingering improvements in what kids learn."

Meanwhile, Blair says parents should trust their children's innate curiosity -- while being sure to set responsible limits in order to "seed" them with the ability to self-regulate.

"Follow your child's lead in the way to make things interesting. Don't direct every little thing," he says. "Whatever it is they are doing, try to structure learning around their play. Anything that allows children to integrate their wants, needs, and desires with some kind of planning process, they are going to learn and be better for it."

The Duncan study appears in the November issue of Developmental Psychology.

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