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Associations between inattention, hyperactivity and pre-reading skills before and after formal reading instruction begins

Concurrent associations between teacher ratings of inattention, hyperactivity and pre-reading skills were examined in 64 pre-schoolers who had not commenced formal reading instruction and 136 school entrants who were in the first weeks of reading instruction. Both samples of children completed measures of pre-reading skills, namely phonological awareness, phonological memory, rapid naming, and letter name knowledge, as well as a measure of verbal ability. School entrants also completed measures of letter sound knowledge and beginning word identification skills. Teachers completed rating scales of inattention and hyperactivity. In the preschool sample, teacher-rated inattention and hyperactivity were not correlated with measures of children's phonological processing but were correlated with letter name knowledge. In comparison, inattention, but not hyperactivity, was independently related to all measures of school entrants' phonological processing and alphabet knowledge and their knowledge of high frequency words. Structural equation modelling on the school entrant sample revealed that the relationship between inattention and beginning word identification was mediated by pre-reading skills, suggesting that attention problems may compromise reading development during the earliest stages of learning to read through their impact on pre-reading skills. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for the consideration of inattention in the design of effective and engaging early childhood learning environments. (author abstract)
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