(HealthDay News) – Preschoolers classified as extremely socially and academically disengaged have the lowest academic skills, compared with their peers, according to a study published online Aug 24 in the Journal of School Psychology.

Rebecca J. Bulotsky-Shearer, PhD, from the University of Miami, and colleagues identified initial levels and rates of change in academic skills for a cohort of 4,417 low-income preschool children exhibiting problem behavior within routine classroom situations using a developmental and ecological model.

The researchers found that, early in the preschool year, six distinct emotional and behavioral profile types were identified within the cohort. Children who exhibited low problem behavior and were characterized as well-adjusted to the preschool classroom early in the year comprised the largest profile group. Other profile types included distinct combinations of elevated internalizing, externalizing, and situational problem behavior. Relative to the well-adjusted type, younger children and boys were identified as being at increased risk for classification in problem types. Children who were classified as the extremely socially and academically disengaged profile type were found to have the lowest academic skills at the start and end of the year, compared with other types.

“Teachers can use the profile types to observe and better understand patterns of problem behavior as they occur within their classroom,” write the authors. “Using these latent profile classifications as a stepping stone to examine intervention effects would be beneficial to inform future early intervention efforts that can reach more low-income children within school settings.”

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