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180 results

Article

✓ Peer Reviewed

Less-Structured Time in Children's Daily Lives Predicts Self-Directed Executive Functioning

Available from: University of California eScholarship

Publication: Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 5

Pages: Article 593

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Abstract/Notes: Executive functions (EFs) in childhood predict important life outcomes. Thus, there is great interest in attempts to improve EFs early in life. Many interventions are led by trained adults, including structured training activities in the lab, and less-structured activities implemented in schools. Such programs have yielded gains in children's externally-driven executive functioning, where they are instructed on what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. However, it is less clear how children's experiences relate to their development of self-directed executive functioning, where they must determine on their own what goal-directed actions to carry out and when. We hypothesized that time spent in less-structured activities would give children opportunities to practice self-directed executive functioning, and lead to benefits. To investigate this possibility, we collected information from parents about their 6-7 year-old children's daily, annual, and typical schedules. We categorized children's activities as "structured" or "less-structured" based on categorization schemes from prior studies on child leisure time use. We assessed children's self-directed executive functioning using a well-established verbal fluency task, in which children generate members of a category and can decide on their own when to switch from one subcategory to another. The more time that children spent in less-structured activities, the better their self-directed executive functioning. The opposite was true of structured activities, which predicted poorer self-directed executive functioning. These relationships were robust (holding across increasingly strict classifications of structured and less-structured time) and specific (time use did not predict externally-driven executive functioning). We discuss implications, caveats, and ways in which potential interpretations can be distinguished in future work, to advance an understanding of this fundamental aspect of growing up.

Language: English

DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00593

ISSN: 1664-1078

Article

✓ Peer Reviewed

Interventions Shown to Aid Executive Function Development in Children 4 to 12 Years Old

Available from: AAAS - Science

Publication: Science, vol. 333, no. 6045

Pages: 959–964

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Abstract/Notes: To be successful takes creativity, flexibility, self-control, and discipline. Central to all those are executive functions, including mentally playing with ideas, giving a considered rather than an impulsive response, and staying focused. Diverse activities have been shown to improve children’s executive functions: computerized training, noncomputerized games, aerobics, martial arts, yoga, mindfulness, and school curricula. All successful programs involve repeated practice and progressively increase the challenge to executive functions. Children with worse executive functions benefit most from these activities; thus, early executive-function training may avert widening achievement gaps later. To improve executive functions, focusing narrowly on them may not be as effective as also addressing emotional and social development (as do curricula that improve executive functions) and physical development (shown by positive effects of aerobics, martial arts, and yoga).

Language: English

DOI: 10.1126/science.1204529

ISSN: 0036-8075, 1095-9203

Article

✓ Peer Reviewed

Executive Functions in Children of 9 and 12 Years Old in Montessori Method

Available from: RA Journals

Publication: RA Journal of Applied Research, vol. 2, no. 12

Pages: 763-770

Elementary education, Elementary school students, Executive function, Montessori method of education - Evaluation

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Abstract/Notes: We emphasize the importance of the executive functions from an early age and how they keep developing throughout childhood.The study’s main objective is to study the correlation between the time students have been in a Montessori school and sexes, with the executive functions. As for the more specific objectives, we consider the assessment of the executive functions in a Montessori school and to determine the level of the executive functions in students. This work, outlines the evaluation of neuropsycological development and the executive functions in a group of boys and girls from CCE Montessori Palau Girona school. To this end, the administration of the test ENFEN (Portellano et al. 2009) and CUMANES (Portellano et al. 2012) has been conducted and we have focused on two sub-tests from each one. Together, we have evaluated a total of 30 primary school pupils aged 9 and 12. From the results, we have analyzed the strong and weak points, and a proposal for intervention from them has been made so they can serve as a basis for the future. No differences in the results of the executive functions evaluated have been observed between the sexes but within the different ages there have been differences. It was observed that for most of the executive functions a positive slope, although not significant, between the time the students enrolled in the Montessori methodology and a higher positive score in the executive functions, being more significant with the youngest, 9 year olds. A greater significance in males versus females was also observed. In conclusion, no differences were found in the executive functions of students respect to sexes but a higher score in the executive functions related to a longer period of time enrolled in the Montessori methodology was observed.

Language: English

ISSN: 2394-6709

Book Section

Executive Functions in Montessori Education

Book Title: The Bloomsbury Handbook of Montessori Education

Pages: 252-260

Cognitive development, Executive function, Maria Montessori - Philosophy, Montessori method of education - Criticism, interpretation, etc., Montessori method of education - Evaluation

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Abstract/Notes: Executive functions are cognitive processes involved in the brain’s governing and self-regulation. Having strong executive functions can be a predictor of school readiness, literacy skills, and even life success. This chapter connects Montessori education practices, such as differentiated instruction, scaffolding, self-directed learning, and active learning, to practices believed to enhance development of executive functions. The chapter also examines empirical evidence related to the effects of Montessori education on executive functions. The chapter concludes that Montessori practices align with strategies for enhancing executive functions, but research on Montessori education’s impact has yielded both positive and conflicting results.

Language: English

Published: New York, New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-350-27561-4 978-1-350-27560-7 978-1-350-27562-1

Series: Bloomsbury Handbooks

Article

✓ Peer Reviewed

Shaping Executive Function in Pre-School: The Role of Early Educational Practice

Available from: ScienceDirect

Publication: Cognitive Development, vol. 67

Pages: Article 101344

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Abstract/Notes: Recent approaches to the development of Executive Function (EF) claim that it is trainable. Purpose-designed programs have proved successful in training EF skills in young children. If the EF is permeable to training from an early age, then the type of educational practice in the first years may as well have an effect. Despite the important implications of this thesis, there is limited evidence of the role of early educational practice in shaping the EF. Previous studies suggest that children in Montessori schools, which promote autonomy and self-regulation, often perform better on EF tasks than children in conventional schools. Evidence to date, however, is not unequivocal across the studies due to a number of factors, including the heterogeneity of the tasks used to assess EF and/or possible baseline differences in the groups that are compared. Here we compare the EF skills of fifty-eight, 4- to 6-year-olds of a similar socio-economic background who had been attending either a Montessori preschool or a conventional preschool for the same period of time. Their performance was assessed with different tasks involving a range of EF processes, such as working memory, cognitive flexibility, inhibitory control, and self-regulation. Results show an advantage of Montessori preschoolers in all EF tasks. More broadly, findings suggest that even when EF skills are not purposely trained, they can be enhanced by specific educational practices.

Language: English

DOI: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2023.101344

ISSN: 0885-2014

Master's Thesis (Action Research Report)

The Effects of Cognitively Engaging Exercise on Children’s Executive Functioning

Available from: St. Catherine University

Action research, Executive function, Montessori method of education

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Abstract/Notes: This study examines the effect of combining vigorous exercise with cognitively engaging games on children’s executive functioning skills such as self-direction, engagement, and focus. Over four weeks, the research took place in a Montessori early childhood classroom with 17 children ages 2.6 to 6. The four-week study included a one-week baseline week to collect initial data on the capabilities of self-direction and comprehensive data on energy levels and engagement. The children participated in a 14-minute movement activity with 7 minutes of vigorous exercise and 7 minutes of cognitive-engaging games. The researcher used both quantitative and qualitative data tools to examine the effects on children’s ability to independently choose an activity, engage, and focus during the morning. The increased movement and cognitive exercise positively impacted children’s executive functioning skills. Future recommendations would include extending the intervention to study further if productivity continued to increase as the children had more days to engage in the exercises. Based on the data gathered in this action research, I recommend that teachers provide an opportunity for children aged three to six to participate in a short morning gathering where they can engage in vigorous movement and a cognitively engaging game.

Language: English

Published: St. Paul, Minnesota, 2022

Article

Executive Function and Tools of the Mind

Publication: Communications: Journal of the Association Montessori Internationale (2009-2012), vol. 2010, no. 1

Pages: 12–28

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Abstract/Notes: Prof. Diamond is a neuropsychologist and this lecture was delivered as the keynote address following AMI's Annual General Meeting on April 10, 2010, Amsterdam. Her presentation focused on early development of the cognitive control functions - collectively called Executive Functions - dependent on prefrontal cortex. She touched upon many aspects that are controlled from prefrontal cortex, such as planning and problem solving, self-control, creativity, inhibiting impulsive actions, etc. She also discusses at length The Tools of the Mind Programme which she has assessed.

Language: English

ISSN: 1877-539X

Article

✓ Peer Reviewed

Exploring South African preschool teachers’ roles and responsibilities with executive functions

Available from: AOSIS Publishing

Publication: South African Journal of Childhood Education, vol. 12, no. 1

Pages: Article 1141 (9 pages)

Africa, Early childhood care and education, Executive function, Montessori method of education, Preschool education, South Africa, Southern Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Teachers

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Abstract/Notes: South African studies based on school readiness found that most children who commence formal schooling (from Grade 1) lack the basic skills needed to adapt within the learning environment – these include having challenges to follow instructions, work autonomously or focus on a task. The national guideline for teaching children between birth to 9 years does not specify how early childhood education programmes can facilitate or strengthen executive function (EF) skills through structured play. Structured play, can be understood as play activities that require guidance and instructions for completion. During the activities, the participants have to follow instructions in order to attain the outcome. Hence, there is a need to explore how EF skills can be developed through structured play. From our understanding, EF is an individual’s cognitive ability to regulate thoughts and actions needed to complete a task. Executive function skills assist learners to adjust and work effectively later (Grade 1) in a formal learning environment to perform academically. The study was conducted at preschool sites that follow different educational approaches. They are Montessori, National Curriculum Framework (NCF), Reggio Emilia and Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) preschools. The preschools are situated in affluent suburbs of Pretoria, Gauteng. In this article, learners refer to children aged 4 years in the Grade RRR class. A qualitative multiple case study design was utilised. We interacted with two teachers from four schools who followed different educational approaches. The data collection techniques included individual semi-structured interviews, lesson observation and document analysis, whilst photographs and field notes were taken when the teacher-participants interacted with learners during a planned learning experience. The generated data sets were inductively analysed and interpreted using the theoretical frameworks of sociocultural theory and metacognition. The interpreted data sets revealed that the preschool teacher-participants can facilitate EF using games, songs, movement exercises or racing competitions. The participants explained that indoor, outdoor and learning experiences facilitated EF skills such as self-regulation, working memory and cognitive flexibility during structured play. There is a need for preschool teachers to identify EF in the curriculum and know how to link and intentionally include the skills in daily learning experiences. This will ensure learners acquire EF and apply it in formal learning environments. The contribution to the body of scholarship is the development of guidelines for teachers to intentionally and explicitly develop EF skills using structured play. We confer that teachers play a role in enabling fun, engaging and hands-on activities that promote the acquisition of EF in the early years.

Language: English

DOI: 10.4102/sajce.v12i1.1141

ISSN: 2223-7682

Doctoral Dissertation

Executive Function, Social-Emotional Skills, and Academic Competence in Three Preschool Programmes: Pathways to School Readiness

Available from: British Library - EthOS

Academic achievement, Comparative education, Executive function, Preschool education, Social emotional learning

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Abstract/Notes: Research findings indicate that executive function (EF), social-emotional skills, and pre-academic competence significantly promote children's school readiness and later success. School readiness broadly refers to a combination of skills necessary to function successfully in school and lack thereof may increase the risk of children's school problems. Therefore, it is essential for school systems to provide appropriate and timely support to the development of these fundamental skills. The present study focused on three particular preschool programmes: Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and the traditional play-based (British Columbia Early Learning Framework: BCEFL) programmes in Western Canada. Although they are popular, there is little empirical research that examines and compares the benefits of these programmes to the development of school readiness skills. As such, the present study aimed to 1) determine the effectiveness of these three preschool programmes in Western Canada on the development of children's school readiness; and 2) examine other sources of influences in the child, family and school in relation to the development of school readiness skills. Overall, 119 preschool children (48 Montessori, 42 Reggio Emilia, 29 BCELF) participated in the study. Observation was conducted once in the autumn of 2015 for each classroom using the CLASS observation tool. Teachers and parents of participating children filled in a series of questionnaires regarding the quality of their relationship with their child and their perceptions of daily EF and social-emotional skills of their child. The researcher also assessed individual children's fluid intelligence, EF, and pre-academic competence. The results showed that 1) although Montessori education appeared to be the most effective in facilitating numeracy skills, no curriculum stood out as notably more effective than any of the others at improving other areas of school readiness skills; 2) well-run classrooms where teachers were effective in time, behavioural, and attention management were most effective in promoting children's numeracy skills; 3) EF, social-emotional skills, and pre-academic competence exhibited an overlapping developmental process over time; 4) relational quality in both home and school environments significantly affected the development of school readiness skills, especially social-emotional skills; and 5) adults' perceptions of children's EF and social-emotional skills had a significant consequence for how teachers and parents formed their relationships with their children.

Language: English

Published: Oxford, England, 2018

Article

✓ Peer Reviewed

School Enrolment and Executive Functioning: A Longitudinal Perspective on Developmental Changes, the Influence of Learning Context, and the Prediction of Pre-Academic Skills

Available from: Taylor and Francis Online

Publication: European Journal of Developmental Psychology, vol. 8, no. 5

Pages: 526-540

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Abstract/Notes: The present two-year longitudinal study addressed developmental changes in different aspects of executive functioning (i.e., inhibition, updating, and cognitive flexibility) in a sample of 264 children aged between 5 and 7 years. Of special interest were issues of developmental progression over time, the influence of learning context and the predictive power of executive functions and school context for emerging academic skills. The results revealed pronounced improvements in all executive measures, both over time and as a function of age. For the learning context, small and age-dependent effects on executive skills were found. Inhibition uniquely contributed to the prediction of aspects of emerging academic skills, over and above chronological age and language skills.

Language: English

DOI: 10.1080/17405629.2011.571841

ISSN: 1740-5610, 1740-5629

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