Background: To date, school policies and practices have emphasized early-schooling mathematics instructional practices only as a way to boost academic achievement. However, because young children spend a large part of their formative years in classroom settings, it is important to understand not only the link between instruction and achievement but also the link between instruction and socioemotional development. Our study addressed this issue. Using a nationally representative dataset of kindergarten students, we inquired into which early mathematics instructional practices might be linked to a range of child outcomes, including both achievement and socioemotional development. We also investigated whether these associations varied across different subpopulations of students.
Population: The ECLS-K: 2011 dataset for a nationally representative sample of kindergartners in 2010–11 was used. Children were assessed in mathematics at kindergarten entry and at the end of the kindergarten year. Their socioemotional development was also rated by teachers and parents.
Research design: We used student-level multiple regression analyses with school fixed effects, a rich set of individual, family, and classroom covariates, and school cluster-adjusted standard errors to estimate the associations between kindergarten mathematics instructional practices and achievement and multiple socioemotional outcomes.
Conclusions: We found that several instructional practices were associated with multiple types of outcomes, often with different results for different types of students. Thus, an exclusive focus on achievement likely obscures the full range of influence that teaching practices have on student success. As school systems increasingly seek to foster socioemotional learning, it is important to establish a research base that considers the links between pedagogy and all facets of childhood development.