|Abstract or Summary
- Children who have multiple family risk factors are at increased risk for poordevelopmental outcomes
- Children who have multiple family risk factors are at increased risk for poordevelopmental outcomes, including poor academic achievement. The present studyfocused on charting the pathways through which early family risk – as indexed byethnic minority status, low maternal education, low family income, and chronicmaternal depressive symptoms – influences academic achievement in first grade usingdata on 1,364 children from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and YouthDevelopment. In addition, the mediating role of children's social competency andbehavioral regulation at 54 months was explored.Structural equation modeling indicated that family risk factors during earlychildhood negatively influenced social competency, behavioral regulation, andacademic achievement in first grade, but the mechanisms by which each risk factorexerted influence on academic achievement varied. Child's ethnicity emerged as beingsignificantly and directly related to lower achievement. Maternal education and averagefamily income-to-needs ratio were primarily associated with lower achievement directlywith a small indirect effect through behavioral regulation. In contrast, maternal depression had a modest indirect effect through behavioral regulation, such that as the number of time points a mother showed significant depressive symptoms increased,children's behavioral skills decreased, which, in turn, was related to lower academicachievement in first grade.In addition, behavioral regulation significantly predicted better reading,mathematics, and vocabulary achievement in first grade after controlling for earlyfamily risk factors. Results suggest that strengthening a child's behavioral regulationskills prior to school entry may help to compensate for early exposure to family riskfactors and decrease the likelihood of poor academic adjustment and later academicfailure.