Sources of individual differences in young Chinese children's reading and mathematics skill: A longitudinal study

J Sch Psychol. 2018 Dec;71:122-137. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2018.10.008. Epub 2018 Nov 10.


This study investigated the longitudinal associations between four key elements of school readiness-receptive vocabulary, socioemotional behavior, behavioral self-regulation, and approaches to learning-and individual differences in young children's reading and mathematics trajectories. Chinese children (N = 588) were tested three times between the ages of five and six on their Chinese reading and mathematics skills, and their receptive vocabulary, problem behavior, behavioral self-regulation, and approaches to learning (competence motivation, learning strategy, and attention/persistence) were assessed at five years of age. Latent growth modeling revealed that receptive vocabulary and behavioral self-regulation played unique roles in predicting the levels of Chinese reading (vocabulary: β = 0.15, p = .023; self-regulation: β = 0.16, p = .001) and mathematics skills (vocabulary: β = 0.25, p < .001; self-regulation: β = 0.36, p < .001). Problem behavior and competence motivation were associated with the levels of mathematics skills (problem behavior: β = -0.06, p = .046; competence motivation: β = 0.16, p < .001) but not those of reading skills. Moreover, competence motivation predicted the growth rate of Chinese reading skills (β = 0.18, p = .015). The findings extend the current literature by explicating the independent contributions made by early school readiness skills to individual differences in young Chinese children's acquisition of reading and mathematics skills.

Keywords: Approaches to learning; Chinese children; Mathematics; Problem behavior; Reading; Receptive vocabulary; Self-regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Academic Performance*
  • Aptitude*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Learning
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Reading*
  • Self-Control