Maternal Education and Chinese First Graders’ Performance in Language and Literacy and Math: Role of Home Environment

  • Tony Xing TanEmail author
  • Yi Zhou
  • Gen Li


Research shows that maternal education influences children’s academic performance indirectly through the quality of the home environment. In this study, we tested the role of 12 variables within the home environment (e.g., eating meals together, reading for fun at home, number of children’s books, watching TV, and bedtime) to help identify those that were effected by maternal education and then in turn affected first graders’ performance in Language and Literacy and Math. We collected home environment data from 313 Chinese parents and academic performance data directly from the children’s school. From the 12 variables, path analyses identified three that were significant: the number of children’s books at home, the number of hours that the child watched TV daily, and the number of extracurricular activities. Specifically, a higher maternal education level was related to more children’s books at home and fewer hours of TV watching daily, which were related to better performance in Language and Literacy; a higher maternal education level was related to more children’s books at home and more extracurricular activities, which were then related to better performance in math. As the identified variables are all malleable, intervention strategies that make reading materials available to children at home, limit children’s exposure to excessive TV, and promote extracurricular activity involvement may benefit children’s academic performance. Interventions that focus on increasing less educated mother’s awareness of the importance of providing reading materials to children at home, regulating children’s TV time, and involving children in extracurricular activities could also be beneficial.


Maternal education Academic performance Mediating effect Home environment 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Foreign StudiesXi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Department of Educational and Psychological Studies, College of EducationUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  3. 3.Xinyuan Educational ConsultingBeijingChina

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