Skip to content

Strategies Clearinghouse

Physical Health

The major indicator for this measure of success is the percent of parents reporting their child’s health is excellent or good.

Being in good physical health in early years of childhood has several positive educational and health outcomes for children. Good health in preschool and early childhood has been linked to good health later in life, as measured by tobacco exposure, unintentional injury, obesity and mental health. Educational benefits of good health in the early years include increased academic achievement. Poor health is associated with lower math and reading test scores in kindergarten entry through third grade, with negative effects compounding over time. Specific health conditions, such as having ADHD, being overweight or underweight, or having a speech impairment, can also result in lower reading or math achievement among children.

  • Guyer et al_2009_Early childhood health promotion: Analysis of effects of tobacco exposure, unintentional injury, obesity, and mental health problems during preschool years. Assessed health promotion and disease prevention among children from before birth through five years old. Analysis determined that all four measures were significant predictors of health problems throughout a person’s life span. This was especially true for tobacco exposure.
  • Eide et al_2010_The relation between children’s health: Analysis of 2,394 families who participated in the Child Development Supplement portion of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a nationally representative sample of families that has collected information from the same individuals over time since 1997. Researchers used math and reading test scores from the Woodcock-Johnson evaluation tool to measure academic achievement. Health conditions considered in the analysis included ADHD, asthma, vision, hearing and speech impairment, and being underweight or overweight. Results found that having a speech impairment, ADHD, and hearing and vision impairments were associated with lower reading scores.
  • Spernack et al_2006_child health and academic achievement: Analysis of 7,515 children from the National Head Start-Public School Early Childhood Transition Demonstration study, which collected data from children enrolled in Head Start through third grade between the years of 1992 and 1998. Comparing academic achievement (math and reading test scores) between children categorized as having “poor” and “good” health according to parent ratings, this study found that children with poor health exhibited lower academic achievement than those with good health. Also found that negative effects of poor health on achievement were stronger in third grade than in kindergarten, especially for reading scores.

Become a Loud Voice

A child yelling into a megaphone