Children who display higher levels of inattention at the age of seven are at risk of worse academic outcomes in their secondary examinations, research by an Indian-origin professor in Britain says.
The findings have significant implications for parents, teachers and clinicians. Researchers at the Universities of Nottingham and Bristol studied more than 11,000 children as part of the research.
“Teachers and parents should be aware of the long-term academic impact of behaviours such as inattention and distractibility,” said Kapil Sayal, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at University of Nottingham.
“The impact applies across the whole spectrum of scores at the population level and is not just confined to those scoring above a cut-off or at the extreme end,” Sayal noted.
“Prevention and intervention strategies are key and, in the teenage years, could include teaching students time-management and organisational skills, minimising distractions and helping them to prioritise their work and revision,” Sayal noted.
Parents and teachers completed detailed questionnaires when the children were seven-year-old to assess a variety of different behaviours.
Some of these behaviours include inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity and oppositional/defiant problems. This information was compared with the children’s academic achievements by looking at their secondary examination results at age 16.
For every one-point increase in inattention symptoms at age seven, across the whole sample, there was a two to three point reduction in secondary examination scores at age 16.
With each one-point increase in inattention symptoms increased the risk of worse academic outcomes across the full range of inattention scores in the sample.
The study appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.