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The Role of Emotions in Kindergartens' Academic Performance

Graziano et al. (2007) found that a student's relationship with their teacher is essential to their academic success. This finding could be helpful for child educators as they are responsible for being a motivational role model in a child's educational experience. The transition to kindergarten is a big step for children, and it can be helpful to have an educator that understands how emotions impact a child's learning ability. The research in this article found that kindergarteners who can manage their feelings are more likely to succeed in an academic setting. Children with better emotion regulation skills obtained higher scores on standardized measures of mathematics and early literacy skills. Children who can regulate their emotions have fewer behavioral problems in the classroom and a lower confrontational attitude toward their teacher.

On the flip side, children who struggle to regulate their emotions are less productive and less accurate when completing assignments. The researchers suggested that the cause of this is the anxiety and frustration with learning new material, and children not being able to cope with these emotions results in poor academic performance. Children with difficulty regulating emotions may require more assistance in and outside the classroom. Educators can suggest programs to the child's parents if this occurs.

The researchers recruited 325 participants (143 boys and 172 girls); each participant was around five years old. To assess emotional regulation, parents completed an emotion regulation checklist and questionnaire. Parents also completed a checklist to measure broad internal and external behavior symptoms such as antisocial behavior and aggression to assess behavior problems. To evaluate the children's academic competence, the teacher filled out a performance rating scale that measured the child's work completion in reading, math, and general areas and productivity during classroom tasks. In addition, the teacher also completed a student-teacher relationship form. To evaluate achievement, trained clinical doctoral students measured the students' academic achievement based on a standardized set of basic reading, writing, and mathematical measures. Finally, to assess children's intelligence, a trained clinical psychology doctoral student administered a standard measure to determine the student's intelligence scores.

Additional research found that a student's intelligence cannot be determined by demographic variables such as race, socioeconomic upbringing, or gender. Another finding was that behavior problems do not predict academic achievement, meaning that a student can experience emotional dysregulation and succeed academically. Remember, the quality of the relationship a student has with the teacher can be a helpful resource. Students who have a positive relationship with their teacher are likely to perform better academically because they want to do well for a person they respect.

This dense research finding is integral to developmental science because it can inspire future research on how attention and memory are disrupted in children with poor emotion regulation skills. For the layperson, this finding is also helpful because it can encourage conversations about how to talk to children about their emotions and how to help them find ways to regulate their emotions in a helpful way. As for educators, they may need a training program to know how to facilitate an emotion regulation practice or activity when faced with an emotionally dysregulated student or group of students.


Graziano PA, Reavis RD, Keane SP, Calkins SD. (2007). The Role of Emotion Regulation and

Children's Early Academic Success. J Sch Psychology.

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