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The role of executive functioning in predicting social development, work habits, and reading and writing readiness for kindergartners

20 July 2012


The role of executive functioning (EF) in early childhood development has become more actively studied in recent years. Though EF has been studied in relation to kindergarten success, there is little literature specifically identifying EF component skills as related to specific school competencies. This study focused on three components of EF: monitoring, inhibition, and working memory; and three areas of school outcomes: social development, reading and writing readiness, and work habits. The present study utilized teacher reports of EF on three scales of the Behavior Rating of Executive Functioning (BRIEF; Gioia, Isquith, Guy, & Kenworthy, 1996) and children’s grade reports. Results indicated that each of the three types of EF (i.e., working memory, inhibition, and monitoring) had a significant relationship to social development and work habits. However, only working memory was significantly related to reading and writing readiness. None of the EF factors had a greater relative contribution to the three school outcomes. This study provides important support for the key role that EF plays in academic and social development, even for young children. Screening for EF at the onset of formal schooling can provide valuable information about a child’s ability to do well in key competency areas or indicate a warning that interventions may be necessary in order for a child to be successful. Implications for future research are provided.


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