Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

Unique Contributions of Impulsivity and Inhibition to Prereading Skills in Preschoolers at Head Start

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Childhood Education

Unique Contributions of Impulsivity and Inhibition to Prereading Skills in Preschoolers at Head Start

Article excerpt

The goal of this study was to explore the relationship between temperament (specifically impulsivity and inhibition) and prereading skills (letter knowledge and print concepts) in preschool children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The participants in the study were 111 preschool children with a mean age of 58.09 months (SD = 5.80) attending Head Start. Results from hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that lower levels of impulsivity (consisting of persistence, negative emotionality, and activity-level characteristics) and lower levels of inhibition made unique contributions to higher letter knowledge and print concepts skills. Theoretical implications for early childhood education and directions for future research are highlighted.

Keywords: early literacy, emotion regulation, preschool literacy, preschool education

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Policymakers, educators, and parents have become increasingly interested in early literacy skills development, due to an accumulating body of longitudinal research linking successful early literacy skills attainment to later academic achievement (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1997; Denton & West, 2002; Lonigan, Burgess, & Anthony, 2000). Prereading skills include such concepts as letter knowledge, phonological awareness, understanding of print, and language skills. To better understand prereading skills development, it is important to examine child characteristics that may enhance or inhibit children's early academic learning. The current study was designed to replicate and extend the results of Coplan, Barber, and Lagace-Seguin (1999), which suggested that temperamental characteristics related to impulsivity play an important role in early academic Success.

Prereading skills are delineated by two main categories, oral language skills and code-related skills, both of which are necessary for later reading success (Storch & Whitehurst, 2002). Oral language skills include expressive and receptive vocabulary, grammatical rules, and narrative structure, whereas code-related skills include alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness, letter-sound correspondence, and knowledge of print concepts. Both sets of skills appear to be highly associated during the preschool years, but their individual importance in the development of literacy seems to occur at different times during the pre- and early-reading years (Storch & Whitehurst, 2002; Whitehurst & Lonigan, 1998).

Several studies of the relationship between prereading skills and later reading have found early code-related skills to be especially important in predicting later reading outcomes (e.g., Adams, 1990; Hammill, 2004; Puolakanaho et al., 2008; Schatschneider, Fletcher, Francis, Carlson, & Foorman, 2004). For example, data summarized by Adams (1990) across multiple studies indicates that letter knowledge and phonological processing skills are most often the strongest predictors of superior reading skills in elementary school. In a study by Blaiklock (2004), letter knowledge in 5-year-olds was highly predictive of later reading success. Additionally, the relationship between early phoneme awareness and later reading was reduced to nonsignificant levels when taking children's letter knowledge into account, suggesting that letter knowledge could be an important explanatory agent in the established relationship between phonological awareness and reading skills in young children. In addition to letter knowledge, print concept awareness is another important factor in learning to read (e.g., Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). Print concepts include the knowledge of why one reads, how print is organized in text, and how one can make meaning from print (Justice, Pullen, & Pence, 2008). Longitudinal research suggests that print concept awareness is a vital prereading skill (Storch & Whitehurst, 2002).

Of particular interest in prereading skills research are children from low-income homes, because there is strong evidence linking family socioeconomic status (SES) to children's early literacy skill development (see Bradley & Corwyn, 2002). …

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