The long-term contribution of emergent literacy and early behavioral self-regulation to reading and math: The moderating role of gender

The long-term contribution of emergent literacy and early behavioral self-regulation to reading and math: The moderating role of gender

First Author: Freyja Birgisdottir -- University of Iceland
Additional authors/chairs: 
Steinunn Gestsdottir (University of Iceland); John Geldhof (Oregon state University)
Keywords: Emergent literacy, Self-regulation, Reading comprehension, Gender Differences, Mathematics
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Although the role of emergent literacy and behavioral self-regulation in academic achievement is a much researched topic, few studies have examined how these skills affect academic functioning in the long term. This study explored how letter knowledge and behavioral self-regulation in preschool related to reading comprehension and math performance five years later. Possible moderating effects of gender on this relationship were also examined. Method: Participants were 111 4-year-old children (mean age at Wave 1 = 55.70 months, 49% girls) who were assessed on letter-knowledge and self-regulation and their performance related to their reading comprehension and math scores in Grades 1 and 4. Results: Letter knowledge predicted reading comprehension and math at the end of Grade 1. Mediation models further revealed that letter knowledge predicted reading comprehension in Grade 4, both directly and indirectly through its effect on Grade 1 reading. There was also an indirect relation between letter knowledge and mathematics in Grade 4, through Grade 1 math skills. Pre-school behavioral self-regulation predicted academic achievement in Grade 1 and Grade 1 self-regulation predicted reading and math in Grade 4. However, these relations were significant only among boys. With the Grade 1 mediators in the model, there were no direct or indirect predictive relations between pre-school behavioral self-regulation and academic achievement in Grade 4. Conclusions: These findings underline the long-term foundational role of pre-school letter knowledge in later academic functioning and highlight the possible role of early behavioral self-regulation in explaining later gender differences in academic achievement.