Can You Steer Your Kids Toward College...Starting in Pre-K?

A new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, suggests that parents who have long-term expectations that their child will attend college are likely to raise children who will have academic success, as early as pre-K.

Researchers at UCLA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discovered that a child's readiness for kindergarten depended on a few factors other than preschool attendance, such as "families' behaviors, attitudes, and values," reports PsychCentral.

Data was collected from 6,600 children who were born in 2001. Each child was given standardized tests to assess them both psychologically and academically. Parents were also interviewed four times prior to their children entering kindergarten, about family dynamics, routines, and plans for preschool. Socioeconomic factors (like parents' jobs, educational level, and income) were also considered in how it affected a child's academic trajectory.

Test results showed that kids with the highest scores were also likely to have higher parental expectations to attend college (96 percent). Kids with the lowest scores only had 57 percent of parental expectations. Also, kids were more likely to succeed in school, especially in math and reading, if parents continued to play a strong role in sharing their expectations (which might be a good thing in light of the Common Core).

Although the majority of parents who expected their child to earn a college degree belonged to higher socioeconomic groups, early support was the most important factor. "Parents who saw college in their child's future seemed to manage their child toward that goal irrespective of their income and other assets," said Neal Halfon, M.D., the study's senior author.

If you're able to increase your child's chance of accomplishment simply by setting positive and attainable expectations for your child, why not get a head start? And with free community college becoming a possibility, a college degree will become even more attainable for families of all economic backgrounds.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She's a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Image: Learning Child via Shutterstock

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