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Links between reading acquisition level, emotional difficulties and academic performance in school-aged children

Said Ihbour (Biological Engineering Laboratory, Functional and Pathological Biology Team, Faculty of Science and Techniques, Sultan Moulay Slimane University, Beni Mellal, Morocco)
Oumaima Essaidi (Biological Engineering Laboratory, Functional and Pathological Biology Team, Faculty of Science and Techniques, Sultan Moulay Slimane University, Beni Mellal, Morocco)
Meriem Laaroussi (Biological Engineering Laboratory, Functional and Pathological Biology Team, Faculty of Science and Techniques, Sultan Moulay Slimane University, Beni Mellal, Morocco)
Mohamed Najimi (Biological Engineering Laboratory, Functional and Pathological Biology Team, Faculty of Science and Techniques, Sultan Moulay Slimane University, Beni Mellal, Morocco)
Fatiha Chigr (Biological Engineering Laboratory, Functional and Pathological Biology Team, Faculty of Science and Techniques, Sultan Moulay Slimane University, Beni Mellal, Morocco)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 9 November 2022

Issue publication date: 2 February 2023

9

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the associations between reading difficulties, anxiety and depressive symptoms, self-esteem status and academic achievement among children of school age in the Moroccan context.

Design/methodology/approach

This cross-sectional study was carried out on 302 Moroccan students aged 9 to 16 years, the latter having voluntarily participated in the different stages of the proposed assessments. Standardized reading tests administered individually allowed us to classify participants into three groups (good readers, intermediate level and weak readers). The subjects completed the measurements of three self-evaluative scales: the Beck depression inventory, the Coopersmith scale of self-esteem and the Taylor questionnaire of manifest anxiety. The variable of academic achievement is constituted by calculating the grade point averages of the last three semesters.

Findings

Emotional disturbances are more frequent in the “weak readers” and the “intermediate level” group when compared to the good readers. Academic achievement and reading level are negatively correlated with anxious-depressive symptoms and positively with self-esteem at each reading level; the analysis of the results does not show any relevant difference in terms of the psychopathological disorder intensity between girls and boys.

Research limitations/implications

This study emphasizes improving education and psychological support for learners. It also encourages the strengthening of strategies for dealing with learning disabilities and the emotional distress associated with them.

Practical implications

The trend toward an inclusive school and the recruitment of school psychologists is advantages to be considered in the Moroccan educational system.

Originality/value

In addition to psychopathological vulnerability and academic failure, the social and family dimensions of self-esteem are impaired in weak readers.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Warm thanks to the young people participating in the study. The authors are also grateful to the headmasters of the schools for allowing us to research in their schools.

The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to privacy or ethical restrictions.

Project CNRST Ibn Khaldoune 2018–18 (F.Chigr).

Citation

Ihbour, S., Essaidi, O., Laaroussi, M., Najimi, M. and Chigr, F. (2023), "Links between reading acquisition level, emotional difficulties and academic performance in school-aged children", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 135-145. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-05-2021-0040

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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