Ponitz, C. C., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Brock, L. L. & Nathanson, L.

Abstract

We examined gender differences in the first grade transition, exploring child and classroom contributions to self-control and achievement in a rural sample. Teachers (n =36) reported on children’s (n = 172) initial adjustment difficulty and end-of-year self-control. Observed classroom organization and teacher-reported classroom chaos measured complementary aspects of classroom organizational climate. Children’s literacy and mathematics skills were assessed in the fall and spring. Boys had more difficulty than girls adjusting to first grade, and initial adjustment fully explained gender differences in self-control. Neither observed organization nor teacher-reported chaos predicted self-control, and there were no gender differences in achievement. However, children in well-organized and low-chaos classrooms achieved greater literacy gains than those in poorly organized and chaotic classrooms. Boys made greater gains in mathematics in low-chaos classrooms, whereas no association existed between mathematics and chaos for girls. Discussion highlights gender differences in early school adjustment and features of well-organized classrooms and their implications for learning.

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