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Early Child Language Mediates the Relation Between Home Environment and School Readiness


  • We are grateful to the parents and the twins participating in the Quebec Newborn Twin Study. We also thank Hélène Paradis and Bei Feng for their assistance in data management and preparation, and Jocelyn Malo for coordinating the data collection. This research was supported by grants awarded to Michel Boivin, Daniel Pérusse, and Richard E. Tremblay from the National Health Research Development Program (NHRDP, #6605-05-2000/2590183), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC), and the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ).

concerning this article should be addressed to Ginette Dionne, École de Psychologie, Université Laval, Pavillon Félix-Antoine Savard, 2325 Rue des Bibliothèques, Quebec City, QC, Canada G1V 0A6. Electronic mail may be sent to


Home environment quality is a well-known predictor of school readiness (SR), although the underlying processes are little known. This study tested two hypotheses: (a) child language mediates the association between home characteristics (socioeconomic status and exposure to reading) and SR, and (b) genetic factors partly explain the association between language and SR. Data were collected between 6 and 63 months in a large sample of twins. Results showed that home characteristics had direct effects on SR and indirect effects through child language. No genetic correlation was found between language and SR. These results suggest that home characteristics affect SR in part through their effect on early language skills, and show that this process is mainly environmental rather than genetic in nature.