Adverse Experiences in Early Childhood and Kindergarten Outcomes

Early Traumatic Experiences Tied to Learning and Behavioral Difficulties in Children

1/14/2016

A new study found that experiencing traumatic events known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) before age 5 was strongly linked with learning difficulties and behavior problems among kindergarteners. The study, “Adverse Experiences in Early Childhood and Kindergarten Outcomes,” in the February 2016 issue of Pediatrics (published online Jan. 14) includes data on more than 1,000 children in large U.S. cities whose teachers rated school performance at the end of kindergarten. Students who’d experienced one or more previously reported ACE were significantly more likely to struggle in the classroom, displaying below-average language, literacy and math skills, as well as aggression and social problems.  ACEs include events such as physical, sexual or psychological abuse and neglect or substance use, mental illness, violence in the home or incarceration of a family member.  The more adverse events a child experienced, according to the study, the more academic and behavior problems increased. Authors of the study stress that poor school achievement is associated with poor health and well-being as adults. They said the findings should encourage policymakers and practitioners to find ways for early childhood professionals like pediatricians and educators to work together to support at-risk children and their families.