The amount of play that low-income students experience in their kindergarten classrooms predicts how engaged they are in school extracurricular activities in 8th grade,.
New York University researchers analyzed data from the federal Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class, comparing kindergarten students’ cognitive skills, play time and use of art supplies, musical instruments, dress-up clothes and other dramatic materials to the students’ later participation in sports, theater, and other school clubs and activities.
The researchers found that kindergartners who displayed higher levels of executive function—the kinds of cognitive skills related to self-control—tended to participate more in sports, drama, and music activities in middle school. But after controlling for executive function, the amount of classroom play kindergartners had predicted their involvement in extracurricular activities later on.
A version of this article appeared in the January 18, 2017 edition of Education Week as Social-Emotional Development