A study published in the December issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine points to potential long-term benefits from children’s school-based training in social skills early in life.
Researchers at the University of Washington tracked 598 students over a period of 12 to 15 years. In elementary school, about half the students had been assigned to classes taking part in a university-developed classroom-management program known as the Seattle Social Development Project—some starting as early as 1st grade and others coming into the program in 5th grade. The rest got no special social-skills lessons in their classes.
By ages 24 to 27, the study found, the former project students were significantly more likely than their counterparts from regular classrooms to be engaged in school or work and to enjoy a higher standard of living. They also suffered from fewer mental-health problems or sexually transmitted diseases. The study turned up no differences, though, in rates of illegal drug use or crime.
A version of this article appeared in the December 10, 2008 edition of Education Week