There is strong evidence that self-regulatory processes are linked to early academic skills, both concurrently and longitudinally. The majority of extant longitudinal studies, however, have been conducted using autoregressive techniques that may not accurately model change across time. The purpose of this study was to examine the unique associations between 2 components of self-regulation, attention and executive functioning (EF), and growth in early literacy skills over the preschool year using latent-growth-curve analysis. The sample included 1,082 preschool children (mean age = 55.0 months, SD = 3.73). Children completed measures of vocabulary, syntax, phonological awareness, print knowledge, cognitive ability, and self-regulation, and children’s classroom teachers completed a behavior rating measure. To examine the independent relations of the self-regulatory skills and cognitive ability with children’s initial early literacy skills and growth across the preschool year, growth models in which the intercept and slope were simultaneously regressed on each of the predictor variables were examined. Because of the significant relation between intercept and slope for most outcomes, slope was regressed on intercept in the models to allow a determination of direct and indirect effects of the predictors on growth in children’s language and literacy skills across the preschool year. In general, both teacher-rated inattention and directly measured EF were uniquely associated with initial skills level; however, only teacher-rated inattention uniquely predicted growth in early literacy skills. These findings suggest that teacher ratings of inattention may measure an aspect of self-regulation that is particularly associated with the acquisition of academic skills in early childhood.
SOURCE: Lonigan, Christopher J. “Examining the Predictive Relations Between Two Aspects of Self-regulation and Growth in Preschool Children’s Early Literacy Skills.” Developmental Psychology, January, 2017, 53(1), pp. 63-76.
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