If you want your children to grow up to be good employees, start early.

A new study indicates attentiveness during kindergarten is a predictive factor in the development of future work-oriented skills.

Linda Pagani, a professor and researcher at the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine, examined kindergartners in the poorest neighborhoods of Montreal, and asked the students’ teachers to use an observational scale to score them on their attentiveness skills. Those measurements were later used to determine classroom engagement levels.

The results, published online in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, showed that boys, aggressive children, and children with lower cognitive skills in kindergarten were much more likely to have low classroom engagement.

Extrapolating from those findings, the study indicates that kids who tend to work autonomously and harmoniously with fellow classmates, follow directions well, and exhibit good self-control and confidence are more likely to continue such productive behaviors into the workplace.

“For children, the classroom is the workplace, and this is why productive, task-oriented behavior in that context later translates to the labor market,” Pagani said, adding, “Our findings make a compelling case for early identification and treatment of attention problems … Universal approaches to bolstering attention skills in kindergarten might translate into stable and productive pathways toward learning.”