Distinct patterns of organized activity participation and their associations with school readiness among Chinese preschoolers

Lixin Ren*, Xin Tong, Weiman Xu, Zhongling Wu*, Xinyu Zhou, Bi Ying Hu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Organized extracurricular activities (EAs) constitute an important part of many young children's lives. However, the role of EAs in children's development during early childhood is poorly understood. The current study examined the associations between EA participation and a range of school readiness outcomes in a sample of 345 urban Chinese preschoolers. Using three waves of data collected on EA participation and applying growth mixture modeling, we discovered two distinct trajectory classes with respect to the breadth of EA participation as well as two classes for EA attendance intensity. With a series of covariates controlled for, children's greater initial levels of or rates of increase in EA breadth were related to better early math skills. Greater probabilities of belonging to the higher-intensity class were also associated with better early math skills in children. However, EA participation did not predict other aspects of children's school readiness, including Chinese reading, receptive vocabulary, expressive language, social skills, and problem behaviors. This study extends existing EA literature, which has primarily focused on school-aged populations in Western contexts, by demonstrating substantial individual variations in Chinese preschoolers' trajectories of EA participation. Our findings suggest that EAs seem to have little unique contribution to children's school readiness except for early math skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-119
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of School Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Breadth of participation
  • Chinese children
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Growth mixture modeling
  • Intensity of participation
  • School readiness


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