Sex differences in first graders' literacy skills are mediated by parental input
Literacy skills, which predict academic achievement across school, consistently show sex differences with girls outperforming boys. The present study examined whether and how these differences in literacy skills at the early stages of formal schooling are related to differences in parental input, namely the frequency of literacy-relevant activities. The study involved a large sample of first-graders (N = 1292) and their parents. Information about home activities (e.g., reading, learning letters, playing word games) was collected via a survey administered to parents. Children's literacy skills (decoding and reading comprehension) were assessed in the beginning and at the end of first grade. Results showed that girls outperformed boys at both testing points and that parents engaged girls in literacy activities more often than boys. Critically, parent-initiated activities partially accounted for sex differences in children's literacy scores. Implications of these findings for the understanding of the nature of sex differences are discussed.