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Maria Rönkä, Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen, Anna-Maija Poikkeus, Jari-Erik Nurmi & Noona Kiuru

Associations of reading and math skills and reading and math self-concepts with children's sociometric status in the peer group

The present study investigated the associations of children's sociometric status with their academic skills and academic subject-specific self-concepts during their first school years. The study is part of the broader First Steps follow-up study in which children's learning pathways are studied from kindergarten to grade 4. The participants of this study were 274 children (139 girls, 135 boys), who were investigated during the years 2007-2009 when they were in kindergarten, grade 1 and grade 2. Children's reading and math skills and self-concepts of reading and math were measured at all three time points and their sociometric status was measured in grade 1. The results showed first that children who were readers already in kindergarten were more likely than other children to be popular in their peer group in grade 1. Compared to other children, popular children also had better reading and math skills in grade 1 and 2. Finally, sociometric status was related to the development of reading skills so that neglected and average children partly gained the level of reading skills of popular children by the end of grade 2. In turn, reading skills of rejected and controversial children developed more slowly than those of neglected and average children. The results suggest that positive peer relations can promote the development of children's academic skills.

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