Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Heather A. Henderson

Second Committee Member

Daryl B. Greenfield

Third Committee Member

Maria S. Carlo


A great deal of research suggests that a close relationship with a teacher in preschool plays a significant role in promoting school readiness (Mashburn & Pianta, 2006). How exactly this relationship might impact children's acquisitions of skills, however, is not well understood. Strong theoretical arguments suggest both children's motivation and attention control as likely explanatory mechanisms in this association. These two learning-related behaviors have been described for preschoolers within the framework of Approaches to Learning as Competence Motivation and Attention/Persistence (McDermott, Leigh, & Perry, 2002). To test these variables as potential mediators, data were analyzed from 115 Head Start children scheduled to enter kindergarten the following year. Teachers completed a measure of teacher-child attachment in the fall, and a measure of Approaches to Learning in the winter. Children were directly assessed on school readiness at the end of the year. Regression analyses were conducted to test two mediation models. Results indicated Attention/Persistence but not Competence Motivation as a significant mediator in the association between teacher-child relationships in preschool and school readiness. Implications for intervention with low-income preschoolers are discussed.


Teacher-child Relationship; Attention Control