RESEARCHERS at Warwick University have devised a test to predicate a child’s future academic ability – using a raisin.
According to the research, the simple test, using just a cup and piece of dried fruit, can forecast how well a toddler will perform academically at the age of eight.
A 20-month-old child is given a raisin placed under an opaque cup within easy reach.
After three trial runs, the toddlers are told to wait 60 seconds until they can touch and eat the raisin.
The study found the toddlers who were born prematurely at 25 to 38 weeks were more likely to take the raisin before the allotted time.
And, when the same children were revisited seven years later, it was found they were not performing as well in school as their peers who were carried to full-term.
The findings concluded that the lower the gestational age, the lower a toddler’s inhibitory control – and the more likely those children would have poor attention skills and low academic achievement at eight years old.
Senior author, Professor Dieter Wolke, who is based at the University of Warwick’s Department of Psychology and at Warwick Medical School, said the experiment could pave the way to establishing specialist, tailored education to help premature children underachieving at school in later years.
He added: “An easy, five-minute raisin game task represents a promising new tool for follow-up assessments to predict attention regulation and learning in preterm and term born children.
“The results also point to potential innovative avenues to early intervention after preterm birth.”
The study Preterm Toddlers’ Inhibitory Control Abilities Predict Attention Regulation and Academic Achievement at Age 8 Years will be published in the November issue of The Journal of Pediatrics and can be viewed online at www.jpeds.com