pared with 74 percent of girls, and only 50 percent of the youngest age cohort was rated high in attention, compared with 70 percent of the oldest cohort.

In all areas, both teachers and parents rate children substantially higher in all attributes as the level of the mother’s education rises. Similarly, children from two-parent families are rated higher on all attributes than children from single-parent families, with a positive correlation between attribute ratings and never having received welfare. White and Asian children, and to a smaller extent children whose primary language at home is English, are rated higher on persistence by both parents and teachers. As noted, there is considerable divergence between teachers and parents in “eagerness to learn” ratings for all races, however. And teachers rate minority children other than Asians as less attentive than white and Asian children. (Whether this means that Asian and white children learn to be more attentive at home or that teachers are less able to communicate expectations well to some minority children is, of course, open to question, as is the accuracy of perceptions of difference.)


The ability of children to take advantage of learning opportunities in a preschool classroom is greatly influenced by their ability to establish a secure tie to the teacher, and to successfully negotiate relationships with peers (see Chapter 2). But children vary with respect to the social and emotional development that facilitates positive relationship formation. Moreover, the ease with which they adapt to the expectations of the classroom will vary with their temperament, regulatory capacity, and cultural familiarity with the modes of interaction that are encouraged.

Social Skills

Socialization of children is, in and of itself, a goal of early childhood education (Meisels et al., 1996). But successful social relationships provide benefits for cognitive development as well, since social skills are related to later academic achievement (Swartz and Walker, 1984).

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