Child development and student wellbeing: A six-year follow up study using 2009 AEDC data

Tess Gregory1

1Telethon Kids Institute


It is well known that children’s development at school entry is associated with their later academic achievement, but less is known about whether school readiness is also associated with students’ later social and emotional wellbeing.  The present study explored the relationship between teacher-rated school readiness (Mage=5.6 years) using data from the 2009 AEDC and four aspects of student wellbeing (life satisfaction, optimism, sadness and worries) in Grade 6 (n = 3,906 Australian children).  After adjustment for background child and family-level factors, children’s early physical, social and emotional development were associated with all four wellbeing outcomes in Grade 6, but early language and cognitive skills and communication and general knowledge skills were only associated with internalising behaviours (sadness and worries). Mechanisms through which these different aspects of development might influence later wellbeing are discussed, as well as ways that schools and governments can support students’ social and emotional wellbeing.



Tess Gregory is a Senior Research Fellow in the Fraser Mustard Centre, a partnership between the Telethon Kids Institute and the South Australian Department for Education aimed to inform evidence-based decision making and research translation. She holds a Bachelor of Mathematics and Computer Sciences and a PhD in Psychology. Her current research focuses on using population level data on children’s development, wellbeing and academic achievement to inform policy and practice.