To better understand early predictors of weak language and academic abilities, we identified children with and without weak abilities at age 8. We then looked back at age 2 vocabulary and word combining, and evaluated these measures as predictors of age 8 outcomes. More than 60% of children with weak oral language abilities at 8 were not late talkers at 2. However, no word combining at 2 was a significant risk factor for poor oral language, reading comprehension, and math outcomes at 8. The association of no word combining with age 8 reading comprehension and math ability was mediated by age 8 oral language ability. The findings indicate that children take different developmental pathways to weak language abilities in middle childhood. One begins with a delayed onset of language. A second begins with language measures in the typical range, but ends with language ability falling well below typical peers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology