Predicting Academic Achievement from Cumulative Home Risk: The Mediating Roles of Effortful Control, Academic Relationships, and School Avoidance

Components of the home environment are associated with children’s academic functioning. The accumulation of risks in the home are expected to prove more detrimental to achievement than any one risk alone, but the processes accounting for this relation are unclear. Using an index of cumulative home risk (CHR) inclusive of protective factors, as well as risks, we examined child-level and school environment variables as potential mediators of the relation of CHR to academic achievement in a sample of 266 third-grade through fifth-grade children. Parents reported on the home environment, and school-issued report cards assessed achievement. Results from structural equation models indicated that children’s effortful control (parent- and child-reported), conflictual peer and student-teacher relationships (teacher- and child-reported), and school avoidance (teacher- and child-reported) significantly mediated the relation between CHR and achievement. Findings offer insights into specific mechanisms that link a negative home environment to academic functioning.