Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Caitlin Lombardi, Beth Russell, Maria LaRusso

Field of Study

Human Development and Family Studies


Master of Arts

Open Access

Campus Access


The interrelationships between math and behavioral skill development prior to school entry are not well understood, yet have important implications for understanding how to best prepare young children for kindergarten. This study addresses this gap by utilizing a sample of 1,750 children (53% male; 47% White, 16% Black, 16% Hispanic, 8% Asian, and 13% other or multi-race) from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) to examine the interrelationship between behavioral (socioemotional competence and externalizing problems) and math skills across the ages of 4 to 6 years. Results from a random-intercept cross-lagged panel model (RICLPM) revealed significant between-person associations between each of these skills over time. After controlling for these between-person differences, findings identified several significant within-person associations between domains, with socioemotional competence at age 4 predicting math skills at age 5. At age 5, math skills were predictive of socioemotional competence at age 6. Findings highlight the importance of supporting children’s socioemotional competence at age 4 and math skills at age 5 in both preschool and home environments.

Major Advisor

Caitlin Lombardi