What is it about?

How do children's academic skills develop during the primary school years? Are there different developmental patterns in reading Chinese versus reading English as a second language? What about mathematics? Why do some children develop faster than others? Can we predict which children will develop faster and which will develop slower? To answer these questions, we sought to identify patterns in the development of academic skills (Chinese reading, English reading, and mathematics) and their predictors, using data from 1000 Hong Kong primary school children in Primary 1 to Primary 5.

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Why is it important?

The results showed that children's reading and mathematics initially share basic cognitive foundations but follow remarkably different developmental patterns across the primary school years. In particular, individual differences in Chinese reading and English reading gradually decreased with increasing grade levels. This suggests that early intervention for children who are initially poor readers may help them to close the gap with their peers. In contrast, individual differences in mathematics increased over time. The current intervention approach for children with initially poor mathematics skills may not be effective enough to help them catch up with their peers. Early assessment of reading and mathematics skills is likely critical for identifying and better serving children who will later struggle to become more proficient in these skills.

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This page is a summary of: Predicting the developmental trajectories of Chinese reading, English reading, and mathematics: Evidence from Hong Kong Chinese children., Developmental Psychology, July 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/dev0001575.
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