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The trajectory to school success starts as soon as children are conceived, and are influenced by genetics and environment. By preschool, we can predict which children will have behaviour and learning problems in elementary school, based on their individual characteristics, their parents and the family dynamic. 

Predictors of academic problems include:

  • language and literacy disorders, including difficulties recognizing and using the sounds of spoken words prior to the age of six

  • attention deficits

  • social difficulties (e.g., getting along with peers) 

  • emotional difficulties (e.g., controlling negative emotions, aggression, poor self-regulation)

  • at-risk family environment (e.g., poverty, single-parent) and poor parenting 

These risk factors combine additively or interactively in predicting school difficulties. Importantly, some of them can be overcome or mitigated by good social skills, close peer and adult relationships, and positive but firm discipline.