This study investigated predictive relations between preschoolers' (N=310) behavioral regulation and emergent literacy, vocabulary, and math skills. Behavioral regulation was assessed using a direct measure called the Head-to-Toes Task, which taps inhibitory control, attention, and working memory, and requires children to perform the opposite of what is instructed verbally. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was utilized because children were nested in 54 classrooms at 2 geographical sites. Results revealed that behavioral regulation significantly and positively predicted fall and spring emergent literacy, vocabulary, and math skills on the Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement (all ps<.05). Moreover, growth in behavioral regulation predicted growth in emergent literacy, vocabulary, and math skills over the prekindergarten year (all ps<.05), after controlling for site, child gender, and other background variables. Discussion focuses on the role of behavioral regulation in early academic achievement and preparedness for kindergarten.
The authors examined a new assessment of behavioral regulation and contributions to achievement and teacher-rated classroom functioning in a sample (N = 343) of kindergarteners from 2 geographical sites in the United States. Behavioral regulation was measured with the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders (HTKS) task, a structured observation requiring children to perform the opposite of a dominant response to 4 different oral commands. Results revealed considerable variability in HTKS scores. Evidence for construct validity was found in positive correlations with parent ratings of attentional focusing and inhibitory control and teacher ratings of classroom behavioral regulation. Hierarchical linear modeling indicated that higher levels of behavioral regulation in the fall predicted stronger levels of achievement in the spring and better teacher-rated classroom self-regulation (all ps < .01) but not interpersonal skills. Evidence for domain specificity emerged, in which gains in behavioral regulation predicted gains in mathematics but not in language and literacy over the kindergarten year (p < .01) after site, child gender, and other background variables were controlled. Discussion focuses on the importance of behavioral regulation for successful adjustment to the demands of kindergarten.
Recent research indicates that children's learning-related skills (including self-regulation and social competence) contribute to early school success. The present study investigated the relation of kindergarten learning-related skills to reading and math trajectories in 538 children between kindergarten and sixth grade, and examined how children with poor learning-related skills fared throughout elementary school on reading and math. Latent growth curves indicated that learning-related skills had a unique effect on children's reading and math scores between kindergarten and sixth grade and predicted growth in reading and math between kindergarten and second grade. In addition, children with poor learning-related skills performed lower than their higher-rated peers on measures of reading and mathematics between kindergarten and sixth grade, with the gap widening between kindergarten and second grade. Between third and sixth grade, this gap persisted but did not widen. Discussion focuses on the importance of early learning-related skills as a component in children's academic trajectories throughout elementary school and the need for early intervention focusing on children's self-regulation and social competence.
Children's behavioral self-regulation and executive function (EF; including attentional or cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control) are strong predictors of academic achievement. The present study examined the psychometric properties of a measure of behavioral self-regulation called the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders (HTKS) by assessing construct validity, including relations to EF measures, and predictive validity to academic achievement growth between prekindergarten and kindergarten. In the fall and spring of prekindergarten and kindergarten, 208 children (51% enrolled in Head Start) were assessed on the HTKS, measures of cognitive flexibility, working memory (WM), and inhibitory control, and measures of emergent literacy, mathematics, and vocabulary. For construct validity, the HTKS was significantly related to cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control in prekindergarten and kindergarten. For predictive validity in prekindergarten, a random effects model indicated that the HTKS significantly predicted growth in mathematics, whereas a cognitive flexibility task significantly predicted growth in mathematics and vocabulary. In kindergarten, the HTKS was the only measure to significantly predict growth in all academic outcomes. An alternative conservative analytical approach, a fixed effects analysis (FEA) model, also indicated that growth in both the HTKS and measures of EF significantly predicted growth in mathematics over four time points between prekindergarten and kindergarten. Results demonstrate that the HTKS involves cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control, and is substantively implicated in early achievement, with the strongest relations found for growth in achievement during kindergarten and associations with emergent mathematics.
Children's ability to direct their attention and behavior to learning tasks provides a foundation for healthy social and academic development in early schooling. Although an explosion of research on this topic has occurred in recent years, the field has been hindered by a lack of conceptual clarity, as well as debate over underlying components and their significance in predicting school success. In addition, few measures tap these skills as children move into formal schooling. This article describes the aspects of self-regulation that are most important for early school success. It then discusses methodological challenges in reliably and validly assessing these skills in young children and describes recent advances in direct measures of self-regulation that are reliable and ecologically valid and that predict children's school success. It concludes by summarizing critical issues in the study of self-regulation in school contexts and discussing next steps.
The development of early childhood self-regulation is often considered an early life marker for later life successes. Yet little longitudinal research has evaluated whether there are different trajectories of self-regulation development across children. This study investigates the development of behavioral self-regulation between the ages of three and seven, with a direct focus on possible heterogeneity in the developmental trajectories, and a set of potential indicators that distinguish unique behavioral self-regulation trajectories. Across three diverse samples, 1,386 children were assessed on behavioral self-regulation from preschool through first grade. Results indicated that majority of children develop self-regulation rapidly during early childhood, and that children follow three distinct developmental patterns of growth. These three trajectories were distinguishable based on timing of rapid gains, as well as child gender, early language skills, and maternal education levels. Findings highlight early developmental differences in how self-regulation unfolds with implications for offering individualized support across children.
This study examined relations between children’s attention span-persistence in preschool and later school achievement and college completion. Children were drawn from the Colorado Adoption Project using adopted and non-adopted children (N = 430). Results of structural equation modeling indicated that children’s age 4 attention span-persistence significantly predicted math and reading achievement at age 21 after controlling for achievement levels at age 7, adopted status, child vocabulary skills, gender, and maternal education level. Relations between attention span-persistence and later achievement were not fully mediated by age 7 achievement levels. Logistic regressions also revealed that age 4 attention span-persistence skills significantly predicted the odds of completing college by age 25. The majority of this relationship was direct and was not significantly mediated by math or reading skills at age 7 or age 21. Specifically, children who were rated one standard deviation higher on attention span-persistence at age 4 had 48.7% greater odds of completing college by age 25. Discussion focuses on the importance of children’s early attention span-persistence for later school achievement and educational attainment.
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