A new study shows that good kindergarten attention skills accurately predict the development of "work-oriented" skills in school children.

The study led by Dr. Linda Pagani, a professor and researcher at the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine, observed the attention skills of over a thousand kindergarten children and then collected data on how the children worked “both autonomously and with fellow classmates, their levels of self-control and self-confidence, and their ability to follow directions and rules,” from grades 1 through 6.

"For children, the classroom is the workplace, and this is why productive, task-oriented behavior in that context later translates to the labour market," said Pagani.

Identifying the children with high, medium, and low classroom engagement, the researchers found that attentive kids in kindergarten were more likely to have high classroom engagement later on.

"Children who are more likely to work autonomously and harmoniously with fellow classmates, with good self-control and confidence, and who follow directions and rules are more likely to continue such productive behaviors into the adult workplace. In child psychology, we call this the developmental evolution of work-oriented skills, from childhood to adulthood."

The researchers also found that “boys, aggressive children, and children with lower cognitive skills in kindergarten were much more likely to belong to the low trajectory.”

"There are important life risks associated with attention deficits in childhood, which include high-school dropout, unemployment, and problematic substance abuse,” said Pagani.

"Our findings make a compelling case for early identification and treatment of attention problems, as early remediation represents the least costly form of intervention. Universal approaches to bolstering attention skills in kindergarten might translate into stable and productive pathways toward learning."

The researchers said that further study should be done to find out how the classroom environment influences children's attention spans.