Pathways to Early School Success: Exploring the Individual and Collective Contributions of Contextual Factors and School Readiness Skills

2019-01-16T15:04:10Z (GMT) by Irem Korucu Kiroglu
This dissertation includes two studies. The first study investigated longitudinal associations between the home and classroom environments at age 3 and academic and social outcomes at age 9 as well as the mediating role of attention regulation and language in these associations. Study 2 examined the continuity and change in the level of the quality of the home environment across ages 3 to 5 and its association with school readiness outcomes at age 5. Data for both studies came from four waves (baseline, age 3, 5 and 9) from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study, which includes 4898 children (52.4% male) and primary caregivers. Twenty one percent of the mothers for the total sample were White, 47% were Black, 27% were Hispanic, and 4% identified as other. Sixty five percent of mothers had an education level of high school or less, 24% completed some college, 11% had a college degree or higher. Results for study 1 indicated that better quality home and classroom environments at age 3 were related to stronger language skills at age 5, and the quality of the classroom environment was significantly related to better attention regulation at age 5. Further, mediation analyses indicated that children’s language skills at age 5 mediated the associations between both early contexts and later academic skills, and attention regulation at age 5 mediated associations between the classroom environment and later academic skills. Results for study 2 indicated that there was not stability in the quality of the home environment between the ages of 3 to 5. In addition, higher quality home environments at age 3 and change in the quality of the home environment predicted greater gains in children’s attention regulation, language, and social emotional competence. Taken together, findings from these studies inform our understanding of the importance of early environments for children’s school readiness and later skills and have potential implications for future research, policy, and interventions designed to promote healthy development in early and middle childhood.