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Child Dev. 2001 Mar-Apr;72(2):625-38.

Early teacher-child relationships and the trajectory of children's school outcomes through eighth grade.

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  • 1University of Virginia, Charlottesville 22904-9784, USA.


This study followed a sample of 179 children from kindergarten through eighth grade to examine the extent to which kindergarten teachers' perceptions of their relationships with students predict a range of school outcomes. Kindergarten teachers rated children's behavior and the quality of the teacher-child relationship. Follow-up data from first through eighth grade were organized by epoch and included academic grades, standardized test scores, work-habit ratings, and discipline records. Relational Negativity in kindergarten, marked by conflict and dependency, was related to academic and behavioral outcomes through eighth grade, particularly for children with high levels of behavior problems in kindergarten and for boys generally. These associations remained significant after controlling for gender, ethnicity, cognitive ability, and behavior ratings. The results have implications for theories of the determinants of school success, the role of adult-child relationships in development, and a range of early intervention and prevention efforts.

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