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Dev Psychol. 2017 Jan;53(1):77-88. doi: 10.1037/dev0000179. Epub 2016 Sep 12.

Invented spelling in kindergarten as a predictor of reading and spelling in Grade 1: A new pathway to literacy, or just the same road, less known?

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Department of Psychology, Mount Allison University.
Department of Psychology, Carleton University.


In this study we evaluated whether the sophistication of children's invented spellings in kindergarten was predictive of subsequent reading and spelling in Grade 1, while also considering the influence of well-known precursors. Children in their first year of schooling (mean age = 66 months; N = 171) were assessed on measures of oral vocabulary, alphabetic knowledge, phonological awareness, word reading and invented spelling; approximately 1 year later they were assessed on multiple measures of reading and spelling. Path modeling was pursued to evaluate a hypothesized unique, causal role of invented spelling in subsequent literacy outcomes. Results supported a model in which invented spelling contributed directly to concurrent reading along with alphabetic knowledge and phonological awareness. Longitudinally, invented spelling influenced subsequent reading, along with alphabetic knowledge while mediating the connection between phonological awareness and early reading. Invented spelling also influenced subsequent conventional spelling along with phonological awareness, while mediating the influence of alphabetic knowledge. Invented spelling thus adds explanatory variance to literacy outcomes not entirely captured by well-studied code and language-related skills. (PsycINFO Database Record.


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