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The current study investigated the extent to which a semi-structured block play intervention supported growth in mathematics and executive functioning for preschool children using a randomized controlled design. A secondary aim was to explore whether differential intervention effects emerged for children from various socioeconomic backgrounds, indicated by parental education level. Participants included59 preschool children. Children ranged in age from 38 to 69 months (M = 55.20, SD = 7.17), and 56% were female. Results from regression models indicated that, although not statistically significant, children who participated in the intervention demonstrated greater gains in three mathematics skills (numeracy, shape recognition, and mathematical language) and two indicators of executive functioning (cognitive flexibility and a measure of global executive functioning) compared to children in a control group. Further, three significant interactions were found, suggesting that for numeracy, cognitive flexibility, and global executive functioning, children of parents with low educational attainment benefited the most from intervention participation. These findings provide preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of a semi-structured block play intervention for improving children’s school readiness and have implications for including intentional instruction using blocks in preschool classrooms.

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... Block play is a popular activity amongst preschoolers (Varol and Farran, 2006;Schmitt et al., 2018) and has been deemed by researchers as a versatile activity to help children develop technological thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and abstract thinking (Reifel, 1984;Robbins et al., 2011;Otsuka and Jay, 2017;Schmitt et al., 2018). Not surprisingly, psychologists have also used block building to measure children's intellectual development (Caldera et al., 1999;Hayashi and Takeshita, 2009;Ness and Farenga, 2016). ...
... Block play is a popular activity amongst preschoolers (Varol and Farran, 2006;Schmitt et al., 2018) and has been deemed by researchers as a versatile activity to help children develop technological thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and abstract thinking (Reifel, 1984;Robbins et al., 2011;Otsuka and Jay, 2017;Schmitt et al., 2018). Not surprisingly, psychologists have also used block building to measure children's intellectual development (Caldera et al., 1999;Hayashi and Takeshita, 2009;Ness and Farenga, 2016). ...
... There are three types of block-building activities: structured, unstructured (free block play), and semi-structured block building. In the structured block play, children were asked to duplicate the given models using blocks of various sizes and shapes (Caldera et al., 1999;Cohen and Emmons, 2017;Schmitt et al., 2018). Examples of structured block play include "Stacking blocks", "Three-Dimensional Constructional Praxis" (Benton and Fogel, 1962;Hayashi and Takeshita, 2009), Legos, or Mega Blocks (TOSA). ...
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Block building is a popular play activity among young children and is also used by psychologists to assess their intelligence. However, little research has attempted to systematically explore the cognitive bases of block-building ability. The current study (N = 66 Chinese preschoolers, 32 boys and 34 girls; mean age = 4.7 years, SD = 0.29, range = 3.4 to 5.2 years) investigated the relationships between six measures of spatial skills (shape naming, shape recognition, shape composition, solid figure naming, cube transformation, and mental rotation, with the former four representing form perception and the latter two representing visualization) and block-building complexity. Correlation results showed that three of the four measures of form perception (shape naming, shape recognition, and shape composition) were significantly and positively correlated with block-building complexity, whereas the two measures of visualization were not. Results from regression models indicated that shape recognition and shape composition, as well as shape-recognition-by-gender interaction, were unique predictors of children's block-building complexity. These findings provide preliminary evidence for the basic spatial skills underlying children's block-building complexity and have implications for classroom instructions aimed at improving preschoolers' block-building complexity.
... One study investigating the complexity of block building and peer and teacher interactions found that complexity in building with blocks was positively associated with increases in mathematical learning of preschool-aged children, as measured by the Tools for Early Assessment in Mathematics (Trawick-Smith et al. 2017). Similarly, Schmitt et al. (2018) in a randomised control trial of a block play intervention with preschool children found that children who participated in the intervention had higher mathematical skills than those in the control group. Intervention children scored more highly on numeracy, shape recognition and mathematical language. ...
... The findings align with previous research that links block play to stronger mathematics skills (Trawick-Smith et al. 2017;Schmitt et al. 2018). The blocks provided manipulative and novel resource material for the children to learn foundational mathematics concepts such as one-to-one correspondence, addition, and subtraction. ...
... Manipulatives help to make number concepts more meaningful (Butterworth et al. 2011). Based on the literature that links block play and spatial skills (Schmitt et al. 2018;Jirout and Newcombe 2015), it seems plausible that the blocks may have been responsible for positive mathematics performance in the intervention group. ...
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In this study, we explored whether access to block play is beneficial to mathematical learning for young children in a low-income country. The research, conducted in Papua New Guinea, explored if access to Duplo Lego blocks, across a 7-month period, in early childhood education settings facilitated mathematical learning for children, aged from 5 to 7 years. The research design of the research involved an intervention group (n = 23) with children from three playschools who had access to the blocks across a period of 7 months. A comparison group (n = 26) included children from three elementary schools who had usual programming and resources across the period of the intervention. Learning outcomes were assessed using the Schedule for Early Number Assessment. Findings from this exploratory study indicated that children in the intervention group had stronger mathematics skills at the end of the intervention period than children in the comparison group. Findings indicated that access to block play had potential to improve mathematics skills in early childhood settings in Papua New Guinea. Greater access to block play could provide a feasible and affordable intervention to support early mathematical learning with potential to improve mathematical skills through primary school.
... Another EF-specific activity is block play that children may engage in under the guidance of their parents at home. In some intervention studies, participation in block play supported both improvement of math achievement and growth in EF skills (Blair & Raver, 2014;Schmitt et al., 2018). During block play, children may have opportunities to practice mental representations of objects and products (Wolfgang et al., 2001) that lay the foundations for cognitive development (Kamii, 1972;Piaget, 1962). ...
... We employed the existing HEFE scale (Korucu et al., 2019) with necessary modifications and supplements. In the present study, the HEFE scale is modified, based on the local family environment and the analysis of the recent EF intervention studies (Davis et al., 2011;Diamond & Lee, 2011;Duncan et al., 2017;Korucu et al., 2019;Schmitt et al., 2018;Thorell et al., 2009;Winsler et al., 2011). The modified HEFE scale consists of eight items reflecting the home specific EF-activities, which means it is more detailed, compared to the existing HEFE scale of five items. ...
... The HEFE scale includes items that evaluate the frequency of parents playing games that require concentration and attention with their children (e.g., puzzles), building block play, memory games, and physical activities (e.g., tae-kwon-do, jogging, jumping, football). It was found that these activities, when practiced in the classroom environment, were effective in improving children's EF (Davis et al., 2011;Schmitt et al., 2015Schmitt et al., , 2018Thorell et al., 2009;Winsler et al., 2011). Conducting these activities requires children to concentrate. ...
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Executive function (EF) skills are considered to be important factors for the development of children’s school readiness and academic achievement. These skills may be developed in the home environment. The relation between home environment and the development of children’s EF has been widely discussed in the literature on early childhood education. It is also important to investigate the relation between EF-specific activities at home and the development of children’s EF skills. The Home EF Environment (HEFE) scale was recently developed and it was found that the parents’ EF-specific activities were positively correlated to the children’s EF. However, the items of the scale didn’t reflect all EF-specific activities at home and the scale cannot be administrated to Korean children without modification since the home environment varies in different cultures. For this reason, in the present study, we detailed the items of HEFE scale and analyzed the association between the parent-reported HEFE scale and EF skills of children with a sample of 146 preschool children and one of their parents in Pyongyang, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. For the sample, the mean age of children ranged from 34 to 57 months (M = 46.66, SD = 6.99), and 50.7% were male. On the basis of a correlational matrix, we found that the HEFE scale was positively correlated to the inhibitory control and working memory of children, but not to cognitive flexibility. We also found that the Home Learning Environment (HLE) was significantly and positively related to all three domains of children’s EF. In addition, some of the EF-specific activities (block play, memory game, concentration game and jogging) were significantly correlated to the HLE. The potential importance of the HLE and EF-specific activities at home are addressed in the discussion.
... The literature indicates EF and planning are linked and preschoolers, including those with disabilities, develop planning skills as part of general EF ability (Hughes et al., 2010;Pellicano, 2010). Despite evidence that EF skills may be improved during block play, early educators struggle to implement EF, planning, and related problem-solving principles into classroom curricula (Bustamante et al., 2018;Schmitt et al., 2018). Simultaneously, scholars suggest that play-based assessment may be an ecologically valid approach for understanding and supporting early cognitive skills, especially for young children with disabilities (e.g., Clements et al., 2020;Kelly-Vance & Ryalls, 2008). ...
... Early delays and disabilities, including delays in EF, can be ameliorated via early detection and effective intervention (Schmitt et al., 2015). However, despite evidence that semi-structured block play and other rule-based strategies improve EF in underserved populations (e.g., Schmitt et al., 2018), most cognitive assessments use standardized testing to measure performance relative to typically developing children (e.g., Bracken School Readiness Assessment; Panter & Bracken, 2009). Although standardized assessments allow for efficient developmental comparisons, they do not inform tailored interventions to meet specific children's needs (Kelly-Vance & Ryalls, 2008). ...
... Early childhood STEM research is uniquely positioned in separate but equally important fields. Those in engineering and science education have advanced STEM curriculum and teaching practice (Bagiati & Evangelou, 2016;Bairaktarova et al., 2011), while simultaneously psychologists have studied a multitude of cognitive domains within developmental and educational contexts (EF, mathematics, spatial skills; Schmitt et al., 2018;Verdine et al., 2014). However, psychologists and engineering educators do not routinely collaborate and often publish in separate field-specific journals. ...
Article
Background Engineering play is an emerging framework for understanding young children's constructive block play as an engineering design process. Few studies have evaluated engineering thinking, language, or behavior in preschool-age children, especially quantitative evaluations that systematically document specific early engineering behavior. More research is needed to support diverse children's engineering education in ecologically valid classroom contexts and understand relations with the key cognitive domains that predict school readiness. Purpose/Hypothesis The present study investigated the associations of executive functioning and planning skills with preschoolers' engineering play behaviors with wooden unit blocks, tested the moderating role of disability status in these associations, and provided additional reliability and validity data on the Preschool Engineering Play Behaviors (P-EPB) measure. Design/Method Participants were 110 preschoolers (44% female; 25% children with disabilities) observed and coded during 15-min block play sessions with a peer partner. Children completed separate formal assessments of executive function and planning. Results A one-factor engineering play variable including six behavior categories (i.e., communicating goals, problem-solving, explaining how things are built/work, following patterns and prototypes, logical and mathematical words, and technical vocabulary) was significantly and positively associated with executive function and planning for children with disabilities. Conclusions Results provide new knowledge about early engineering measurement and implications for teaching and learning engineering across multiple academic disciplines and with children from diverse developmental backgrounds.
... This is because previous research has suggested that children will have beneficial opportunities when building structures with blocks (A. S. Bustamante et al., 2018b). Using block play has also been demonstrated to enhance preschool children's early physical experiences and executive functioning (Schmitt et al., 2018). In our IBSE program, many types of large pipes, big blocks and accessories (homemade and commercial) were provided to encourage children's inquiry on "movement" (i.e., How to make it move?). ...
... Early science and engineering is a natural and critical part of early learning that lies a foundation for multiple school-readiness domains, such as math (Aldemir & Kermani, 2017;Greenfield et al., 2009;Kinzie et al., 2015;Schmitt et al., 2018), language and literacy (French, 2004;Greenfield et al., 2009), and science knowledge (Aldemir & Kermani, 2017;Greenfield et al., 2009;Nayfeld et al., 2011;Samarapungavan et al., 2008Samarapungavan et al., , 2011. In specific, Nayfeld et al. (2011) found that a short-term intervention (i.e., two circle-time lessons about the balance scale) was successful in increasing preschoolers' engagement in science learning and enriching their science knowledge. ...
... Although each child participant's SES was collected and used as the covariate in the data analysis, the moderating effect of the SES factor was non-significant. This was inconsistent with some previous research evidence showing that children from lower SES backgrounds would benefit more from effective intervention programs than those higher SES counterparts (Diamond & Lee, 2011;Schmitt et al., 2018). This is probably due to the less diverse family backgrounds of the child participants in the present study, which has been acknowledged in the following section. ...
Article
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Research Findings The present study investigated the effects of a 12-week inquiry-based science and engineering (IBSE) program on preschoolers’ science and engineering learning experiences. The treatment versus control condition was randomly assigned to four preschool classes, which included 122 preschoolers (M = 61.10 month, SD = 3.73). Statistical analysis revealed that the IBSE treatment group (N = 62) had experienced greater gains over time in physical science knowledge, problem-solving skills, and competence motivation as compared to those in the control group (N = 60), with the between-group effect sizes (Cohen’s d) ranging from 0.27 to 1.28. The baseline functioning was found to moderate the program effects. The IBSE group of children who scored higher in science-relevant problem-solving skills at baseline demonstrated more significant improvements in engineering problem-solving skills relative to the control group. Practice or Policy: This study demonstrates that teaching strategies of engineering design process (EDP) and the 5Es instructional model are supportive of young children’s learning with enhanced scientific understanding and skills.
... Structured and unstructured play with blocks and similar puzzles is related to a wide variety of skills including mathematical skills (e.g., Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, Bryant, & Purpura, 2018;Wolfgang et al., 2001), divergent thinking and problem solving (Pepler & Ross, 1981), and social skills (Owens, Granader, Humphrey, & Baron-Cohen, 2008;Legoff & Sherman, 2006). Yet, structured block play has garnered the most attention for its role in spatial development (Caldera et al., 1999;Verdine et al., 2017). ...
... Structural complexity-but not block-building behaviors-related to children's mathematics performance at age 3. Although the mechanisms to explain this link are not established, prior work suggests that block-building may require mathematical reasoning, such as counting, sorting, measuring, and classifying (e.g., Park et al., 2008;Wolfgang et al., 2001;Schmitt et al., 2018;Yelland, 2001). Verdine and colleagues (2014) also suggest that building block structures with LEGOs may require an understanding of discrete units and thus, invoke measurement concepts such as counting the pips or studs. ...
... It is essential to understand how differences in these processes develop because that knowledge could help generate teaching strategies for promoting spatial assembly skills and broader problem-solving approaches. Indeed, block-building interventions marginally supported preschoolers' mathematics learning (Schmitt et al., 2018), especially those from underserved communities (Bower et al., 2020). Moreover, work by Borriello and Liben (2017) demonstrates that encouragement can positively influence maternal spatial behaviors during block play. ...
Article
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Block-building skills at age 3 are related to spatial skills at age 5 (citation removed) and spatial skills in grade school are linked to later success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Though studies have focused on block-building behaviors and design complexity, few have examined these variables in relation to future spatial and mathematical skills or have considered how children go about copying the model in detail. This study coded 3-year-olds’ (N = 102) block-building behaviors and structural complexity on 3-D trials of the Test of Spatial Assembly (TOSA). It explored whether individual differences in children’s building behaviors and the complexity of their designs related to accuracy in copying the model block structures or their spatial and mathematical skills at ages 4 and 5. Our findings reveal that block-building behaviors were associated with concurrent and later spatial skills while structural complexity was associated with concurrent and later spatial skills as well as concurrent mathematics skills. Future work might teach children to engage in the apparently successful block-building strategies examined in this research to evaluate a potential causal mechanism.
... Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are rich content areas that provide children an opportunity to engage in the scientific inquiry process and experience highquality learning opportunities (Bers, 2013;Bustamante, Greenfield, & Nayfeld, 2018;Clements & Sarama, 2015;Schmitt et al., 2018). Research demonstrates that early STEM education relates to not only later STEM outcomes but important domain-general skills, such as executive functioning, approaches to learning, and fluid reasoning, which are integral to later school success (Bustamante, White, & Greenfield, 2018;Green, Bunge, Chiongbian, Barrow & Ferrer, 2017;Nayfeld, Fucillo, & Greenfield, 2013). ...
... Perhaps introducing fractions and fraction language earlier in a playful context would familiarize children with fractions and help them overcome this common roadblock. Thus, in Parkopolis, children roll refashioned dice that represent both whole numbers and fractions ( Figure 2) to advance around a thirty square foot board full of whole numbers and fractions and draw cards that suggest challenges and seven unique activities born directly from literature on STEM education (Dackermann, Fischer, Huber, et al., 2016;Diamond & Lee, 2011;Fisher, Hirsh-Pasek, Newcombe, & Golinkoff, 2013;Link, Moeller, Huber et al., 2013;Scalise, Daubert, & Ramani, 2018;Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, et al., 2018;Siegler & Ramani, 2008;. Games are a powerful tool for learning academic skills outside of school and Parkopolis was designed to provide developmentally appropriate activities for children from early childhood through primary school. ...
... Parkopolis, as an installation of the Playful Learning Landscapes initiative, lies at the juncture of the science of learning and the global cities movement, embedding informal learning opportunities in urban hubs and into the places where families naturally go. Insight into the potential benefits of playing Parkopolis comes from decades of literature in the science of learning (Dackermann, Fischer, Huber, et al., 2016;Diamond & Lee, 2011;Fisher, Hirsh-Pasek, Newcombe, & Golinkoff, 2013;Link, Moeller, Huber et al., 2013;Scalise, Daubert, & Ramani, 2018;Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, et al., 2018;Siegler & Ramani, 2008; and has been embedded in previous PLL installations which have promoted precisely the kinds of caregiver-child interactions that fuel learning (Hassinger-Das et al., 2019). In "Supermarket Speak," for example, strategic signage was placed in grocery stores in low-SES neighborhoods and a 33% increase in caregiver-child language interaction was observed when the signs were up, versus when the signs were down (Ridge et al., 2015). ...
Article
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Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) focused language and interactions build a foundation for later STEM learning. This study examines the ability of the life-size math and science board game "Parkopolis" to foster STEM language and interaction in young children and their families. This study is part of a larger initiative called Playful Learning Landscapes that aims to create playful learning opportunities for children and families in the places they naturally go. Observational results from 562 families suggest that caregivers and children in Parkopolis demonstrated greater STEM language, engagement, interaction, and physical activity compared to a STEM focused traditional children's museum exhibit. Implications and next steps are discussed in regards to maximizing the number of families that can benefit from Parkopolis' playful STEM learning opportunities. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
... Construction with building blocks such as wood bricks and DUPLO blocks is a common play activity for toddlers. Play and construction with building blocks challenges skills related to space and shape (Casey et al. 2008), and play with blocks is also linked to quantitative skills and mathematical language (Schmitt et al. 2018). ...
... these relations were reported in a previous study (Casey et al. 2008). Play with building blocks has also been reported to be linked to increased skills in mathematical language and numeracy (Schmitt et al. 2018). The results in the present study identified even stronger relations between skills in Exploring and construction play and Mathematical language and Logical reasoning than the correlations with the geometrical areas. ...
... The weakest correlations with the present play section were observed for two quantitative areas, Counting and Series of Numbers and Enumeration, where the correlations were near being weak. Nevertheless, these mathematical areas correlate with Exploring and construction play, and these correlations may depend on age, since the participants in the present study were toddlers, whereas earlier findings (e.g., Schmitt et al. 2018) were obtained from somewhat older children (pre-schoolers). The play section Pretend play and the sum of mathematical scores (MIO-total) exhibited a moderate (near strong) correlation. ...
Article
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Play is central to children’s learning and development in the early years, including the learning of mathematics. The aim of the present study was to explore how play skills are related to mathematical skills in toddlers by examining the correlations between different kinds of play skills and mathematical skills, and how level of play skills is related to mathematical skills. The participants were 1088 toddlers in Norwegian Early Childhood and Care institutions who were observed by the staff in 3-month periods beginning when they were 2½ years old. The skills in mathematics and play were assessed by structured observation. The overall scores for play skills and the scores for all types of play skills correlated significantly with the scores for all mathematical areas and the total score for mathematics. The skills Interaction in Play and Independence in Play displayed the strongest correlations with mathematical skills. Rule-based Play was difficult for the toddlers, whereas Pretend Play and Exploring and Construction Play correlated with mathematical skills and may be types of play that are more suitable when introducing mathematics in toddler groups. When the group of toddlers was divided into three subgroups according to their level of play skills, the level of play skills was strongly related to the level of mathematical skills. Toddlers with weak, middle or strong play skills also exhibited corresponding low, medium or high levels of mathematics skills, which emphasises the importance of understanding the relations between play and mathematical learning when working with toddlers.
... It allows children to build spatially and represent ideas with wooden blocks to create artefacts and products. Prior research indicated F I G U R E 1 Matatalab coding set | 5 ROBOT PROGRAMMING VERSUS BLOCK PLAY IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION the use of block play could effectively promote children's multiple concepts and skills such as math thinking and even CT (Schmitt et al., 2018;Trawick-Smith et al., 2017), and executive functioning such as self-regulation, flexible thinking and planning (Hanline et al., 2010). Moreover, block play aids children in developing language skills (Cohen & Uhry, 2007), creativity and imagination (Cohen & Emmons, 2017;Robbins et al., 2011), physical development and social development (Wellhousen & Kieff, 2001). ...
... 174) and understand concepts of space and physical properties of objects (Wolfgang et al., 2001). First, block play facilitated students to learn numeracy which includes counting, comparison, and operations (Schmitt et al., 2018). Second, researchers investigated how young children learn mathematical thinking to categorize geometric shapes, sequencing, compose a larger shape with smaller shapes and transform shapes when playing with wooden blocks (Park et al., 2008;Sarama & Clements, 2009). ...
... Second, researchers investigated how young children learn mathematical thinking to categorize geometric shapes, sequencing, compose a larger shape with smaller shapes and transform shapes when playing with wooden blocks (Park et al., 2008;Sarama & Clements, 2009). Third, block play could support children's CT to solve problems (Newman et al., 2021) and mathematical language development to express quantitative and spatial words (Schmitt et al., 2018). Although few researchers used block play to facilitate students to apply CT skills and practices, some researchers mentioned the potential of transferring the mathematical skills to CT abilities such as decomposing blocks, pattern recognition, step-by-step instruction and abstractions (Soleimani et al., 2016). ...
Article
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Programmable robotics is recently used in early childhood education (ECE) to introduce programming and computational thinking (CT) skills. However, there is a further need for research to contrast the efficacy of children's participation in robot programming and traditionally beneficial ECE activities. The present study thus investigated the effects of a robot programming intervention versus a block play program on kindergarteners' CT, sequencing ability, and self-regulation. The experiment (robot programming) versus comparison (block play) condition was randomly assigned to four kindergarten classes, which included 101 kindergarteners (M = 64.78 months, SD = 7.64). Statistical analyses revealed that the robot programming group (N = 54) had experienced greater gains over time in sequencing ability relative to those in the block play group (N = 47; F = 5.09, p < 0.05). Children in the robot programming group with lower level of self-regulation at baseline showed larger improvements in sequencing ability over time relative to the block play group (F = 2.37, p = 0.01). Also, children in the robot programming group with older age showed larger improvements in CT over time relative to the block play group (F = 2.40, p < 0.01). The study demonstrates the positive benefits of robot programming to early childhood development in terms of CT and sequencing ability, compared to a traditional curriculum activity in ECE—block play.
... Numerous investigations indicate the significance of the successful use of new technologies and, especially, smart mobile devices in school contexts, in order for young children to get ready for the 21st century skills (Stockless, 2018;Kalogiannakis and Papadakis, 2019). More particularly, many researchers have investigated the effect of mobile devices on the Mathematics education in the school environment (Larkin and Calder, 2016;Schmitt et al., 2018;Papadakis et al., 2018a). Although new mobile devices and their accompanying applications are fresh in the digital landscape, they provide new possibilities to reconsider some aspects of the education of Mathematics and improve kid's mathematical thinking (Larkin and Calder, 2016;Outhwaite et al., 2019). ...
... Rogowsky et al. (2018) Playful learning through educational software may enhance numeracy skills among pre-schoolers. Schmitt et al. (2018) Taking part in a block play intervention, young children can enhance their mathematics skills. Outhwaite et al. (2019) Appropriate use of interactive applications can result in high-level effectiveness in teaching mathematics for all students. ...
Article
The adoption of digital technologies in early childhood settings attracts the attention of an increasing number of researchers and scholars throughout the globe. Despite the proliferation of investigations focusing on learning through digital technologies in preschool and early-primary education, there are fields of knowledge in which the impact of digital technologies has yet to be explored. A typical example is that of Nano-Science and nano-Technology (NST). NST is a new interdisciplinary field with products and applications (apps) that utilize the cutting-edge technology and is increasingly penetrating into today's everyday life, promising to solve global challenges. The objectives of this paper are to (a) examine, based on relevant literature, whether digital technologies could enhance the teaching of concepts related to NST in early childhood settings (b) present the perspectives of mobile devices and their educational apps in young childrens learning procedure. The study concludes with a theoretical analysis of the research findings and a brief proposal for future research.
... Numerous investigations indicate the significance of the successful use of new technologies and, especially, smart mobile devices in school contexts, in order for young children to get ready for the 21st century skills (Stockless, 2018;Kalogiannakis and Papadakis, 2019). More particularly, many researchers have investigated the effect of mobile devices on the Mathematics education in the school environment (Larkin and Calder, 2016;Schmitt et al., 2018;Papadakis et al., 2018a). Although new mobile devices and their accompanying applications are fresh in the digital landscape, they provide new possibilities to reconsider some aspects of the education of Mathematics and improve kid's mathematical thinking (Larkin and Calder, 2016;Outhwaite et al., 2019). ...
... Rogowsky et al. (2018) Playful learning through educational software may enhance numeracy skills among pre-schoolers. Schmitt et al. (2018) Taking part in a block play intervention, young children can enhance their mathematics skills. Outhwaite et al. (2019) Appropriate use of interactive applications can result in high-level effectiveness in teaching mathematics for all students. ...
New interactive technologies in terms of smart mobile devices and accompanied applications (apps) attract an increasing attention in the field of preschool and early-primary education. This has risen a great amount of academic literature, and numerous implementation initiatives. Despite this widespread interest, successful integration of interactive technologies in preschool and early-primary education still faces unresolved issues and challenges. This paper refers mostly to smart mobile devices and their accompanied mobile applications (apps) at the device/platform level. Robotics, Mathematics, STEM and Literacy are discussed below, since these are the fields found to provide most opportunities in early childhood, especially promising to cultivate interests early in computing. The ultimate objective is to present a greater comprehension of the influence of new technologies on young children's learning procedure and its potential for early childhood education. The study ends up with a general analysis of the research findings and a short proposal for the extension of the understudy subject as well.
... For instance, Verdine and colleagues (2014) showed that exposure to spatial relation words was positively correlated with spatial assembly performances during block play in 3-year-olds. In turn, playing with blocks, especially in the context of guided play, was found to increase children's own levels of spatial language (Ferrara, Hirsh-Pasek, Newcombe, Golinkoff, & Lam, 2011) and to beneficially affect numeracy skills as well as mathematical language (Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, Bryant, & Purpura, 2018). Verdine and colleagues (2014) also showed that spatial assembly performances during block play were positively associated with scores on the Early Mathematics Assessment System, including a verbal free counting task (Ginsburg, Pappas, & Lee, 2012). ...
... Namely, Ferrara et al. (2011) reported that interactions with blocks naturally elicited increased levels of spatial language, especially in the context of guided play. Moreover, Schmitt et al. (2018) found that children participating in a semi-structured block play intervention featured greater ameliorations compared with a control group in various mathematical competencies as well as mathematical language. ...
Article
Children's verbal number skills set the foundation for mathematical development. Therefore, it is central to understand their cognitive origins. Evidence suggests that preschool children rely on visuospatial abilities when solving counting and number naming tasks despite their predominantly verbal nature. We aimed to replicate these findings when controlling for verbal abilities and sociodemographic factors. Moreover, we further characterized the relation between visuospatial abilities and verbal number skills by examining the role of spatial language. Because spatial language encompasses the verbalization of spatial thinking, it is a key candidate supporting the interplay between visuospatial and verbal processes. Regression analysis indicated that both visuospatial and verbal abilities, as assessed by spatial perception and phonological awareness, respectively, uniquely predicted verbal number skills when controlling for their respective influences, age, gender, and socioeconomic status. This confirms the spatial grounding of verbal number skills. Interestingly, adding spatial language to the model abolished the predictive effects of visuospatial and verbal abilities, whose influences were completely mediated by spatial language. Verbal number skills thus concurrently depend on specifically those visuospatial and verbal processes jointly indexed through spatial language. The knowledge of spatial terms might promote verbal number skills by advancing the understanding of the spatial relations between numerical magnitudes on the mental number line. Promoting spatial language in preschool thus might be a successful avenue for stimulating mathematical development prior to formal schooling. Moreover, measures of spatial language could become an additional promising tool to screen preschool children for potential upcoming difficulties with mathematical learning.
... In the present study, we investigated whether maternal education moderated the importance of parental supports for math achievement. Previous studies have found that children from low SES backgrounds (low parent income and/or education) tend to benefit the most from interventions to increase math skills (Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, Bryant, & Purpura, 2018;Weiland & Yoshikawa, 2013). We hypothesize that an overall scarcity of learning supports within the home may accentuate the positive consequences of learning resources and opportunities that are, in fact, provided. ...
Article
The aim of this study is to investigate whether maternal spatial support during two types of joint manipulative toy play tasks with 2-year-old children was longitudinally associated with math screening test scores in second grade. The interaction between spatial support and maternal education was explored as well. We also investigated predictions of a teacher rating of math performance at second grade, although these effects were less robust. Data were drawn from BONDS (The Behavior Outlook Norwegian Developmental Study), a longitudinal study of Norwegian children and their families. Participants were a subsample of 932 mothers and their 2-year-olds. Mothers were asked to help their children solve both a puzzle task and a shape-color sorting task. Mothers’ spatial support included spatial language, gestures, and placement of objects. Results showed that higher levels of spatial support during mother-child interaction tasks at 2 years of age was significantly associated with fewer math difficulties in second grade. This was the case for a puzzle task (a task associated with spatial visualization skills), but not for a shape-color sorting task (a task associated with shape and color feature discriminations). Conclusions are drawn with respect to the importance of identifying optimal parental spatial strategies associated with better math outcomes. These findings on parental facilitation of spatial skills during joint early play may be useful for future training interventions directed at parents of children at risk for poor math skills.
... Other research studies focused on how experiences with constructive play, such as play with LEGO, during the early years enhance their cognitive processes necessary for performing better with abstract mathematical content, such as geometry (Wolfgang, Stannard, & Jones, 2003). Also, specific structured block play interventions have been proven to support children's cognitive processes (e.g., cognitive flexibility, executive functioning) thus supporting their school readiness (Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, Bryant, & Purpura, 2018). ...
... Other EF interventions in a school setting have been more child-focused and incorporated classroom activities specifically designed to provide children with opportunities to practice their EF skills. In the semi-structured block play intervention described in Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, Bryant, and Purpura (2018), researchers worked in small groups with preschool-aged children twice per week for 7 weeks. The block play intervention required children to plan and to solve problems while working collaboratively with peers. ...
... Young et al. (2014) show that training with spatial language can enhance jigsaw puzzle completion skill, if accompanied by gesture. This places jigsaw puzzles in the context of other work examining the rapid development of spatial skills from preschool onwards (e.g., Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, Bryant, & Purpura, 2018;Verdine, Golinkoff, Hirsh-Pasek, & Newcombe, 2017). Verdine et al. (2017) demonstrate that spatial skills measured at 3 years predict mathematical skills up to 2 years later, and argue for spatial skills' foundational importance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. ...
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Jigsaw puzzles are ubiquitous developmental toys in Western societies, used here to examine the development of metarepresentation. For jigsaw puzzles this entails understanding that individual pieces, when assembled, produce a picture. In Experiment 1, 3- to 5-year-olds (N = 117) completed jigsaw puzzles that were normal, had no picture, or comprised noninterlocking rectangular pieces. Pictorial puzzle completion was associated with mental and graphical metarepresentational task performance. Guide pictures of completed pictorial puzzles were not useful. In Experiment 2, 3- to 4-year-olds (N = 52) completed a simplified task, to choose the correct final piece. Guide-use associated with age and specifically graphical metarepresentation performance. We conclude that the pragmatically natural measure of jigsaw puzzle completion ability demonstrates general and pictorial metarepresentational development at 4 years.
... Spatial skills have been identified as a core component and predictor of broad mathematical skills such as geometric reasoning (Verdine et al., 2014;Rittle-Johnson et al., 2019) and are malleable through intervention (Casey et al., 2008;Schmitt et al., 2018). Some evidence also suggests that parent-child engagement-specific to spatial engagement-may be associated with young children's spatial language and spatial skills (Ferrara et al., 2011). ...
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A growing body of evidence suggests that the ways in which parents and preschool children interact in terms of home-based mathematics activities (i.e., the home mathematics environment; HME) is related to children’s mathematics development (e.g., primarily numeracy skills and spatial skills); however, this body of evidence is mixed with some research supporting the relation and others finding null effects. Importantly, few studies have explicitly examined the factor structure of the HME and contrasted multiple hypothesized models. To develop more precise models of how the HME supports children’s mathematics development, the structure of the HME needs to be examined and linked to mathematics performance. The purpose of this study was to extend prior work by replicating the factor structure of the HME (as one general HME factor and three specific factors of direct numeracy, indirect numeracy, and spatial) and using those factors to predict direct assessments of children’s numeracy, mathematical language, and spatial skills. It was hypothesized that the general HME factor would be related to each direct assessment, the direct numeracy factor would be related to both numeracy and mathematical language, and the spatial factor would be related to spatial skills. Using a sample of 129 preschool children (M age = 4.71 years, SD = 0.55; 46.5% female), a series of confirmatory factor analyses were conducted. Results diverged somewhat from prior work as the best fitting model was a bifactor model with a general HME factor and two specific factors (one that combined direct and indirect numeracy activities and another of spatial activities) rather than three specific factors as had previously been found. Further, structural equation modeling analyses suggested that, in contrast to expectations, only the direct + indirect numeracy factor was a significant predictor of direct child assessments when accounting for age, sex, and parental education. These findings provide evidence that a bifactor model is important in understanding the structure of the HME, but only one specific factor is related to children’s outcomes. Delineating the structure of the HME, and how specific facets of the HME relate to children’s mathematics skills, provides a strong foundation for understanding and enhancing the mechanisms that support mathematics development.
... Among facets of SES, parent education tends to more robustly predict child outcomes than does family income (Schmitt et al., 2018). Parents with low levels of education may not have the resources to engage in mathematical activities, feel uncomfortable with mathematics, and feel unable to engage in mathematical activities with their children (DeFlorio & Beliakoff, 2015). ...
Article
Some evidence suggests that the home numeracy environment (HNE) is related to children’s numeracy. Socioeconomic status (SES) and language minority status can also influence children’s HNE and numeracy. Limited HNE research focuses on dual language learners (DLLs). Using a sample of preschool-aged children ( n = 98) from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds, we examined differences between Spanish-speaking DLLs’ ( n = 37) and monolingual English speakers’ ( n = 61) numeracy, differences in HNEs, and predictive role of HNE on numeracy. Using frequentist and Bayesian t tests, we found that numeracy was not significantly different between DLLs and monolingual English speakers when DLLs’ numeracy was measured in English or in both English and Spanish. However, DLLs’ Spanish numeracy was lower than monolingual English speakers’ English numeracy, t(96) = 2.10, p = .038, Bayes factors (BF 10 ) = 1.51. HNE did not significantly predict either group’s numeracy regardless of assessment language. This study is an important step toward understanding DLLs’ HNE and numeracy.
... Furthermore, caregivers were instructed to let the child reach for, feel and explore the blocks with their mouth, thereby actively participating in the activity. Previous studies have looked at the effect of block play in older children, but those studies are very different in that they focus on construction rather than exploration (Casey et al., 2008;Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, Bryant, & Purpura, 2018;Verdine et al., 2014). ...
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Motor experiences and active exploration during early childhood may affect individual differences in a wide range of perceptual and cognitive abilities. In the current study, we suggest that active exploration of objects facilitates the ability to process object forms and magnitudes, which in turn impacts the development of numerosity perception. We tested our hypothesis by conducting a preregistered active exploration intervention with 59 8‐month‐old infants. The minimal intervention consisted of actively playing with and exploring blocks once a day for 8 weeks. In order to control for possible training effects on attention we used book reading as a control condition. Pre‐ and posttest assessments using eye‐tracking showed that block play improved visual form perception, where infants became better at detecting a deviant shape. Further, using three control tasks, we showed that the intervention specifically improved infants’ ability to process visual forms and the effect could not be explained by a domain general improvement in attention or visual perception. We found that the intervention did not improve numerosity perception and suggest that because of the sequential nature of our hypothesis, a longer time‐frame might be needed to see improvements in this ability. Our findings indicate that if infants are given more opportunities for play and exploration, it will have positive effects on their visual form perception, which in turn could help their understanding of geometrical concepts.
... L. M., 2015;Provenzo & Brett, 1984;Wilson, 2018) increasing numerical competence (Bojorque. G. et al, 2018;S.A., Korucu, Napoli, Bryant, & J.Purpura, 2018) increasing mathematics competence like counting, recognizing shapes, and mathematic language (Park, Chae, & Boyd, 2008;Pirrone, Tienken, & Di Nuovo, 2018;Simoncini et al., 2020). Besides that, There is a close connection between playing with blocks for preschool children and the ability of reading and mathematics (Hanline. ...
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Teachers in ECE (Early Childhood Education) should have the knowledge and skills in guiding children when playing blocks, but this is not shared by most PAUD teachers in Indonesia. Therefore, this study develops a block play model that refers to the PKPK model from Hirsch and Dodge with the adjustment of conditions in Indonesia. This research is a research and development (R&D) that seeks to develop, refine (re-construct), test, and validate Masnipal-models that are easy for teachers to use and effectively develop children's creativity. This study begins with testing the PKPK model to a group of subjects to obtain data about the ability of teachers to understand and apply the model. After revisions and improvements, the model of reconstruction results was further tested. Research subjects were PAUD teachers in Cianjur (n = 42) and Bandung (n = 78). Data collection uses observation and peer assessment techniques and data analysis uses descriptive analysis techniques. The novelty of this study is the resulting Masnipal-model that facilitates PAUD teachers in Indonesia in guiding children to develop creativity through block play.
... Students from many countries, including the UK and US, show relative weaknesses in shape and space domains on international assessments of mathematics (e.g., PISA and TIMMS) compared to other mathematics sub-domains 16 suggesting that spatial instruction should be increased rather than eliminated. The impact of weak or non-existent spatial instruction is further pronounced when one considers preliminary evidence that the associations between spatial skill and mathematics may be particularly strong in children from lower socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds 17 and that spatial instruction may be particularly effective for improving mathematics for pre-schoolers from lower SES families 18,19 . These findings may reflect lower starting points in spatial skill for children from lower SES families compared to their higher SES peers, which may be attributable to reduced access to spatial toys and resources, or lower quality of spatial play for children from lower SES groups. ...
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It is well established that spatial thinking is central to discovery, learning, and communication in mathematics, as indicated by convincing evidence that those with strong spatial skills also demonstrate advantages for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) performance. Yet, spatial thinking—the ability recall, generate, manipulate, and reason about spatial relations—is often absent from modern mathematics curricula. In this commentary, we outline evidence from our recent meta-analysis, demonstrating a causal role of spatial thinking on mathematics. We subsequently discuss the implications of educational policy decisions made across different countries, regarding the prioritization of spatial reasoning in the classroom. Given the increasing global demand for highly qualified STEM graduates, and evidence that spatial skills promote improvements in STEM outcomes, we argue that it is remiss to continue to ignore spatial skill development as a component of educational policy.
... The nature of home spatial activities may need to be further specified. For example, semi-structured spatial play was more beneficial than free play in improving early spatial skills (Casey et al., 2008;Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, Bryant, & Purpura, 2018). Thus, if home spatial activities with parents typically take the form of free play, these experiences may not effectively support spatial skills. ...
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The goal of the current study is to develop a more complete understanding of the early home math environment, encompassing both numeracy and non-numeracy aspects of that environment. Parents of preschoolers (n = 63) were surveyed about their support of three components of early mathematics knowledge (i.e., numeracy, spatial, and pattern) as well as parents’ math-related beliefs about themselves and their children. Children were administered a broad math knowledge assessment which included a numeracy subscale, and individual measures of spatial and patterning skills in the fall (concurrently). Broad math knowledge was measured again in the spring of the preschool year. Parents indicated providing some support of early math development through numeracy, spatial, and patterning activities, with a stronger emphasis on numeracy than pattern and space. Parents’ child-specific ability beliefs were related to their numeracy, pattern, and broad math support, while their parent-specific ability beliefs were related to their spatial support. Parent support was rarely linked to child skills, except that numeracy support related to concurrent numeracy knowledge. Findings suggest that although parents do support a broad range of early math skills at home, parents tend to prioritize supporting early numeracy. Parents’ beliefs, especially about their child’s academic abilities, may influence components of the early home math environment, but future research is needed to better understand the relations between parent’s academic beliefs and the home math environment they create.
... First, this research highlights that integrating practices that develop and support students' spatial skills could benefit students' mathematical understanding at all educational levels. Many of the efforts aimed at improving students' mathematical achievement by way of bolstering their spatial skills have been carried out with students at the preschool/primary and secondary levels (e.g., Cheng & Mix, 2014;Hawes et al., 2015;Lowrie et al., 2017;Lowrie et al., 2019;Schmitt et al., 2018). Only a handful of efforts have been made to bolster students' mathematical outcomes by improving their spatial skills at the postsecondary level (e.g., Sorby, 2007;Sorby et al., 2013). ...
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Much recent research has focused on the relation between spatial skills and mathematical skills, which has resulted in widely reported links between these two skill sets. However, the magnitude of this relation is unclear. Furthermore, it is of interest whether this relation differs in size based on key demographic variables, such as gender and grade-level, and the extent to which this relation can be accounted for by shared domain-general reasoning skills across the two domains. Here we present the results of two meta-analytic studies synthesizing the findings from 45 articles to identify the magnitude of the relation, as well as potential moderators and mediators. The first meta-analysis employed correlated and hierarchical effects meta-regression models to examine the magnitude of the relation between spatial and mathematical skills, and to understand the effect of gender and grade-level on the association. The second meta-analysis employed meta-analytic structural equation modeling to determine how domain-general reasoning skills, specifically fluid reasoning and verbal skills, influence the relationship. Results revealed a positive moderate association between spatial and mathematical skills (r = .36, robust standard error = 0.035, τ2 = 0.039). However, no significant effect of gender or grade-level on the association was found. Additionally, we found that fluid reasoning and verbal skills mediated the relationship between spatial skills and mathematical skills, but a unique relation between the spatial and mathematical skills remained. Implications of these findings include advancing our understanding for how to leverage and bolster students’ spatial skills as a mechanism for improving mathematical outcomes.
... Il est difficile d'élaborer des tâches adaptées aux capacités des enfants jeunes, qui puissent leur permettre une réflexion consciente et garantir une gamme de performances assez étendue (Sperling et al., 2000). En réponse à la nécessité de recourir à des outils et des procédures multiples et plus écologiques, la dernière décennie a vu apparaître de nombreux protocoles originaux utilisant des jouets tels que des poupées (Yanaoka & Saito, 2017), des blocs de construction (Schmitt et al., 2018 ;Trawick-Smith et al., 2017), des figurines et des éléments géométriques en bois , des rails de train (Bryce & Whitebread, 2012 ;Bryce et al., 2015) ou des jeux de société (Barrow et al., 2015). Les puzzles semblent également très intéressants avec les enfants les plus jeunes (Aral et al., 2012 ;Doherty et al., 2020 ;Smiley & Deweck ;1994 ;Sperling et al., 2000). ...
Thesis
L’objectif de cette thèse est de contribuer à la compréhension de l’influence du fonctionnement exécutif et de la métacognition sur l’autorégulation des apprentissages chez le jeune enfant. Nous avons ciblé les deux premières étapes de l’autorégulation -fixation du but et engagement stratégique- car elles sont particulièrement difficiles pour de jeunes enfants. Leurs capacités cognitives de prise en compte des indices dans l’environnement sont en plein développement, ce qui ne leur permet pas encore de prendre pleinement conscience de tous les aspects d’une situation. Des travaux récents suggèrent qu’entraîner de jeunes enfants à utiliser des stratégies cognitives spécifiques est une piste prometteuse pour favoriser la fixation du but (Lucenet & Blaye, 2019). Les stratégies sont en effet au cœur de l’autorégulation et leur étude peut contribuer à mieux comprendre le développement de celle-ci (Clerc, 2013). Le modèle COPES (Winne, 1997) avait déjà mis en évidence l’importance des expériences et des stratégies pour favoriser un apprentissage autorégulé. Plus récemment, le modèle MASRL (Efklides, 2011) a mis l’accent sur les performances des élèves pendant l'exécution d’une tâche, en envisageant les processus par lesquels l’autorégulation s'améliore avec le développement. Enfin, selon Diamond (2016), l’efficacité du fonctionnement exécutif dépend des trois fonctions exécutives fondamentales. Elles constituent la part cognitive de l’autorégulation et connaissent des trajectoires développementales différentes. Nous nous sommes focalisés sur la flexibilité, définie comme la capacité d'adapter nos pensées et nos comportements en réponse aux changements de buts ou d’environnement (Blakey et al., 2016). Elle pourrait être impliquée dans la fixation d’un but, le but étant par nature changeant car régulièrement réévalué pendant l’exécution d’une tâche.Nous avons conduit trois études. La première évalue le rôle joué par la flexibilité et la métacognition sur la capacité de 106 enfants de 4 ans à s’adapter aux changements de l’environnement pendant la réalisation d’un puzzle. Nous avons testé si l’ajout d’une contrainte annoncée les poussait à modifier leur but, comparativement à l’ajout d’une contrainte non annoncée. Un outil ludique et original a été spécifiquement créé pour mesurer le choix de but. La deuxième étude en est un prolongement. Nous avons testé l’effet d’un entraînement à l’utilisation de deux stratégies d’auto-identification des indices d’une tâche (pointage, verbalisation) sur la fixation de buts et sur le recours aux deux stratégies en question chez 58 enfants de 4 ans. Nous avons testé si la flexibilité, le fonctionnement exécutif global et la métacognition peuvent impacter la fixation du but et le recours aux stratégies, notamment dans une tâche de transfert. A nouveau, un matériel familier à forte validité écologique a été créé (Jeux de tri de cartes indicées et Planches de pointage). La troisième étude, composée de deux expériences de nature transversale, s’est intéressée plus spécifiquement au transfert de stratégies. Nous avons testé l’implication de la flexibilité sur la capacité de 140 enfants de 5 à 7 ans à transférer une stratégie mnésique (autorépétition, groupement catégoriel à l’encodage et au rappel) ainsi que sur l’effet bénéfique de cette stratégie sur le rappel en tâche de transfert. Ces trois études ont permis d’éclairer plus finement les relations spécifiques entre trois concepts fondamentaux pour les apprentissages chez de jeunes enfants. Nous avons pu montrer l’implication de la flexibilité et de la métacognition dans la fixation des buts et dans le transfert de stratégie après entraînement. Nous avons aussi pu préciser les liens qui les unissent : la flexibilité et le fonctionnement exécutif prédisent la métacognition chez les enfants de 4 ans rencontrés. Nous considérons ainsi ces deux fonctions comme des précurseurs de l’autorégulation des apprentissages chez le jeune enfant.
... In connection with the improvements in processing speed and sustained attention, the results obtained were consistent with the results in the first pilot study of MAGNITIVE program , and with previous studies based on cognitive-behavioral interventions that emphasize these cognitive skills (Minder et al., 2019), self-instructions (Arco Tirado et al., 2004;Ramalho et al., 2011), and studies examining the effects of different play activities (Blasco-Fontecilla et al., 2015;Schmitt et al., 2018). ...
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Previous studies have explored the impact of magic tricks on different basic cognitive processes yet there is a need of examining effectiveness of a cognitive training program through magic tricks for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The present study examines the effectiveness and feasibility of the MAGNITIVE program, a manualized intervention for cognitive training through the learning of magic tricks. A total of 11 children with ADHD (from 8 to 12 years) participated in separated groups of two different community settings (hospital center and school), and were assessed at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and a 3-month later follow-up in different tasks involving processing speed, sustained attention, selective attention, and mental flexibility. Using non parametric statistical analyses and Reliable Change Index, the results showed that these children receiving MAGNITIVE particularly improved their performance in sustained attention, shifting attention, and mental flexibility, changes were also observed in processing speed performance yet further research is needed in terms of selective attention and inhibition, given the great individual differences within this sample. Changes were maintained when the program was finished. In terms of viability, the study proved a good treatment integrity in different contexts (hospital and school setting), adherence to the curriculum (attendance and some practice at home), and high levels of engagement satisfaction. In this second clinical trial, MAGNITIVE program appears to be a feasible training program for children with ADHD, as an alternative for medication when possible.
... For instance, the findings highlight the potential importance of spatial skills training in preschool mathematical education. Home and preschool learning activities such as block building (Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, Bryant, & Purpura, 2018) and spatial talk (Pruden, Levine, & Huttenlocher, 2011) that facilitate the development of spatial skills should be promoted. In addition, adequate attention should be paid to young children's spatial anxiety. ...
Article
Spatial ability is a strong and stable predictor of mathematical performance. However, of the three key components of spatial ability, spatial perception and spatial visualization have received less attention than mental rotation in relation to specific mathematical competencies of young children. Even less is known about the role of spatial anxiety in this relationship. This study examined the longitudinal relations of spatial perception and spatial visualization to three number skills (i.e., number line estimation, subitizing, and word problem-solving) among 190 preschool children, and whether these relations varied as a function of spatial anxiety. The results showed that children's spatial perception and spatial visualization skills, measured in the third preschool year (Time 1 [T1]), were positively associated with their word problem-solving six months later (Time 2 [T2]). Children's T1 spatial perception was also positively associated with their T2 subitizing and number line skills. In addition, T1 spatial anxiety moderated the relation between T1 spatial perception and T2 subitizing: the relation between the two was stronger for children with low levels of spatial anxiety than it was for those with moderate or high levels. The findings offer valuable insights into how spatial cognition and affect jointly relate to children's early number skills.
... Students' SR as measured by the HTKS improved (ES = 0.31), but the difference between either intervention group and the control group was not statistically significant, perhaps due to insufficient power, given the small sample size (n = 157 total students; McClelland et al., 2019). Schmitt et al. (2018) also evaluated the impact of a targeted block play intervention on EF skills in preschool-aged children. Children were randomly assigned to participate in 15-20 minute semi-structured block play sessions two times per week for several weeks or to a business as usual control group. ...
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This paper reports results from an impact study of Brain Games (BGs), a classroom-based intervention designed to build preschool and school-aged children’s executive functions (EFs) and related self-regulation skills. The study employed a classroom-randomized, experimental design with 626 students in 36 pre-K through fourth grade classrooms in charter schools in a mid-sized urban district. In one set of models with child covariates, children in intervention classrooms showed marginal positive impacts on regulation-related behaviors, attention control and impulsivity, and negative effects on global EF and marginal increases in discipline problems. A second set of models with a smaller sample and both child and classroom covariates included indicate positive impacts of BGs on global EFs, prosocial behavior, and attention control and impulsivity. There were no significant impacts on the teacher–student relationship as reported by the teacher or on direct assessments of inhibitory control, short term and working memory, or another measure of global EF in either set of models. These promising findings offer a signal that implementation of targeted, easy to implement intervention approaches in classroom contexts can influence children’s regulation-related and prosocial outcomes, but this signal should be investigated further with larger and more tightly controlled designs.
... Because teaching early childhood is different from adults. In order to create a child who has a broad curiosity and insight about science, technological developments, various existing techniques as well as concepts in mathematics (Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, Bryant, & Purpura, 2018). In addition, being a teacher in a kindergarten also means being ready to equip ourself with knowledge that is constantly updated without limits. ...
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The purpose of this study is to explore how the concept of STEM were used and negotiated by teachers in kindergarten. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are inseparable parts of everyday life. This study was focused on teachers' perspectives on STEM learning in kindergarten level. STEM learning in this article included activities integrated into the existing themes in kindergarten. STEM learning involves children's creativity and stimulation to solve problems, know the solutions, and think logically, mathematically, and critically. In its implementation , STEM learning cannot be separated from the teachers' perspectives. Thus, analysing teachers' perspectives on STEM learning in kindergarten, including what activities were included , will contribute to early childhood education development. This research was a qualitative study and carried out using an online interview. Drawing on data from 50 kindergarten teachers in Indonesia as the respondents, findings of this study indicated that the term STEM was still considered unfamiliar for kindergarten teachers, the implementation and benefits of STEM in kindergarten also implemented with a more flexible model. Keyword: STEM, Model, Learning, Kindergarten Maya Lestari,dkk. STEM Flexibel Model in Kindergarten …… 95
... environmental changes and the changing demands they need to shift their attention and effort to meet demands of new tasks, being this capacity linked to the functioning of the CF [43,44]. ...
Article
Described as the ability to begin solving a problem in one way and then to shift to another strategy efficiently according to the new demands, cognitive flexibility (CF) can be associated, like other executive functions (EF), to math performance. However, CF is not yet a systematically reviewed component of EF in relation to math outcomes. As an effort to better understand the data available, a meta-analysis of random effects with 23 studies including children (N=35.355; M age=5,8; 46% male) was conducted, using for search the databases Scopus, Science Direct, PsycARTICLES, SciELO and also lists of references. Results showed that CF and math are related, with a moderate heterogeneity and significant weighted effect size (r=0,35; Q=67,82; p=0,01; I² = 57, 24%). The results of different types of mathematics skills showed similar effects (general math r = 0,35; conceptual math r=0,34; procedural math r=0,33). Correlational and univariate analysis of variance data showed that age negatively impacts the magnitude of the overall correlation between CF and math, indicating that in younger children mathematics performance is more strongly impacted by cognitive flexibility (r=0,40; p=0,05). Thus, the assumption that CF have an important influence on mathematical performance is supported, especially in younger children, which indicates that cognitive assessment of CF in educational settings from early childhood can help guide important actions, as by knowing these underlying skills implicated in math performance interventions can focus on them aiming to improve math skills.
... Trawick-Smith, Swaminathan, Baton, Danieluk, Marsh, & Szarwacki, (2017) in una ricerca avente l'obiettivo di osservare gli effetti del GcC libero -modalità di gioco meno studiata -, in bambini frequentanti la scuola dell'infanzia, sono giunti alla conclusione che la partecipazione sociale al gioco, ma soprattutto la complessità delle strutture costruite con i mattoncini, siano associate al miglioramento dell'apprendimento della matematica. Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, Bryant, & Purpura (2018) in uno studio sperimentale randomizzato in cui è stato effettuato un training di due sedute a settimana per sette settimane, hanno preso in considerazione gli effetti del GcC semi-strutturato, meno indagato, sulla matematica e sulle funzioni esecutive (FE). Le attività ludiche consistevano nel fornire ai bambini di età compresa fra i 38 e 69 mesi, istruzioni di massima contenente un tema (es. ...
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Playing represents a fundamental activity for children’s growth. Games consisting in manipulating blocks, especially, seems to have an important role in the child’s cognitive development. Many studies have been conducted for investigating the various aspects of playing with blocks, in order to understand its actual effectiveness in relation to different cognitive skills. A first area of research regards the relationship between playing with building blocks and visual-spatial ability; a second one examines the relationship between playing with building blocks and mathematic skills; a third one explores the relationship between buil�ding blocks, visual-spatial skills, numerical intelligence in its various components and mental imagery. These studies suggest that playing with blocks represents an important recreational and educational tool with a high capacity to enhance the overall cognitive development and specific skills like the mathematical ones. This narrative review offers an analysis of the existing empirical evidence on playing with building blocks in order to understand its actual effectiveness. In an historical period where electronic devices are gradually replacing the manual games that have always accompanied human development, knowing the state of this kind of research may represent a source of reflection for reconsidering scholastic programs with the aim of a possible return to specific manual playing activities, in order to enhance cognitive functioning and specific school skills.
... Other research studies focused on how experiences with constructive play, such as play with LEGO, during the early years enhance their cognitive processes necessary for performing better with abstract mathematical content, such as geometry (Wolfgang, Stannard, & Jones, 2003). Also, specific structured block play interventions have been proven to support children's cognitive processes (e.g., cognitive flexibility, executive functioning) thus supporting their school readiness (Schmitt, Korucu, Napoli, Bryant, & Purpura, 2018). ...
... For example, studies have demonstrated that interventions that feature cognitive exercises (e.g., Röthlisberger et al., 2012), street dancing (e.g., Shen et al., 2020), or musical training (e.g., Moreno et al., 2011) effectively enhance EF in preschoolers. In a study with children 3-6 years of age, the authors tested the efficacy of an play intervention using wooden blocks (Schmitt et al., 2018). This 7-week intervention with 14 sessions (i.e., twice a week) lasting 15-20 min each was done in a group setting with 2-3 children per group. ...
Article
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In recent years, play has been shown to be a powerful means to enhance learning and brain development. It is also known that through play children enhance their executive function (EF) skills. Furthermore, well-developed EF in preschoolers has been shown to be an important predictor for later academic and life success. Armed with this information a program, Building Brains and Futures (BBF), for developing EF through play was designed for 3–5-year-old. The program consisted of 10 simple, fun, and interactive games selected to enhance various facets of EF. The 10 games included were: dimensional change card sort, lips and ears, block building, musical freeze, opposites, pretend play, red light/green light, shared project, Simon says, and wait for it. The program was implemented with a group of children shown to have challenges with respect to kindergarten readiness. The approach was first, to build adult capability by sharing knowledge of brain development, EF, and the importance of play with educators, caregivers, and parents. Second, to build skills in delivering the program in the school setting. Children engaged with the program of games for a minimum of 6 weeks. Their performance on a battery of direct measures of EF, language, and motor skills, were recorded before and after the program. The results showed improvement in all three domains. In addition, adopters of the BBF program reported it was easily and successfully integrated into their existing preschool curricula. The importance of intentional adult directed play in building developmental learning, including EF, is discussed.
Article
Research has demonstrated strong relations between spatial skill and mathematics across ages and in both typical and atypical populations, suggesting that a significant proportion of variance in mathematics performance can be explained by variance in spatial skill. Why do these relations exist and how do they develop? Studies of dimensionality in the two domains suggest the relation holds across tasks and is not limited to specific spatial or mathematics subskills. Spatial skills might perform several functions in real‐time problem solving, but these have not been differentiated empirically. The relation appears to be based on automatic shared processing, as well as strategic recruitment of spatial processes. Developmentally, the relation is consistent in its strength, but may change qualitatively, particularly in response to novel mathematics content.
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The author provides an overview of several theories of numeracy acquisition that, despite criticisms, have withstood the passage of time and continue to influence policy and practices in schools. These are followed by a brief review of some recent research in the domain of numeracy learning and teaching. The article ends with some of the current issues that are (or should be) receiving attention.
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In the present meta-analysis, we examined the effect of cognitive training on the Executive Functions (EFs) of preschool children (age range: 3–6 years). We selected a final set of 32 studies from 27 papers with a total sample of 123 effect sizes. We found an overall effect of cognitive training for improving EF (g = 0.352; k = 123; p < 0.001), without significant difference between near and far transfer effects on executive domains. No significant additional outcome effects were found for behavioral- and learning-related outcomes. Cognitive training programs for preschoolers are significantly more effective for developmentally at-risk children (ADHD or low socio-economic status) than for children with typical development and without risks. Other significant moderators were: computerized vs. non-computerized training, individual vs. group sessions, and length of training. The number of sessions was not a significant moderator. This is the first demonstration of cognitive training for transfer effects among different executive processes. We discuss this result in relationship to the lower level of modularization of EFs in younger children. Protocol Registration: PROSPERO (CRD42019124127). Available online at: https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.php?ID=CRD42019124127.
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Block building—a prevalent play activity—allows children to practice and develop spatial skills, including learning about the intrinsic properties and extrinsic spatial relations of blocks. Performance on block building taps individual differences in spatial skill and relates to later science and math skills. However, studies of block building typically ignore moment-to-moment block-building behaviors, and rarely target children from diverse backgrounds. We observed the real-time block-building behaviors of 120 5-year-olds from African American, Dominican, Mexican, and Chinese backgrounds as they attempted to replicate 3D block structures built by a researcher. For each structure, we coded time spent building, attention to the target structure, alignment of structure with the target, intrinsic and extrinsic errors, and final success. Alignment and checking related to low errors and high success, with Chinese children showing the most alignment, checking, and success. Shifting attention from “performance” to “process” sheds light on real-time learning during spatial tasks.
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La investigación tiene como objetivo identificar la evolución de los niños en criterios de clasificación y seriación utilizando los bloques lógicos de Dienes e indagar las preferencias de construcción de los niños durante el desarrollo del juego libre. La metodología empleada fue un estudio descriptivo mediante un código de observación, construido previamente. Los resultados mostraron que el color y el tamaño son las características que los niños más rápidamente identifican y con las cuales presenta mayor familiaridad. Un poco cercano a las anteriores se encuentra la forma. El grosor es la característica menos observada. En la semana 7, empiezan a realizar seriaciones por 2 criterios simultáneos, completándose por la mayoría al final de 9 semanas. En cuanto a las preferencias de construcción los niños prefieren recrear el mundo de la fantasía de sus cuentos que los objetos de su cotidianidad.
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Prior research has revealed robust and consistent relations between spatial and mathematical skills. Yet, establishing a causal relation has been met with mixed effects. To better understand whether, to what extent, and under what conditions mathematics performance can be improved through spatial training, we conducted a systematic meta-analysis of the extant literature. Our analysis included 29 studies that used controlled pre-post study designs to test the effects of spatial training on mathematics (N = 3,765; k = 89). The average effect size (Hedges’s g) of training relative to control conditions was .28 (SE = .07). Critically, there was also evidence that spatial training improved individuals’ spatial thinking (g = .49, SE = .09). Follow-up analyses revealed that age, use of concrete manipulatives, and type of transfer (“near” vs. “far”) moderated the effects of spatial training on mathematics. As the age of participants increased from 3 to 20 years, the effects of spatial training also increased in size. Spatial training paradigms that used concrete materials (e.g., manipulatives) were more effective than those that did not (e.g., computerized training). Larger transfer effects were observed for mathematics outcomes more closely aligned to the spatial training delivered compared to outcomes more distally related. None of the other variables examined (training dosage, spatial gains, posttest timing, type of control group, experimental design, publication status) moderated the effects. Additionally, analyses of publication bias and selective outcome reporting were nonsignificant. Overall, our results support prior research and theoretical claims that spatial training is an effective means for enhancing mathematical understanding and performance. However, our meta-analysis also highlights a poor understanding of the mechanisms that support transfer. To fully realize the potential benefits of spatial training on mathematics achievement, more theoretically guided studies are needed.
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Publikasi ini merupakan bentuk kerja sama antara Direktorat Pendidikan Anak Usia Dini (PAUD),Direktorat Jenderal Pendidikan Anak Usia Dini, Pendidikan Dasar dan Pendidikan Menengah, Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan (Kemendikbud) dan para alumni penerima beasiswa Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan (LPDP), baik dari dalam maupun luar negeri. Para kontributor yang terpilih dalam buku ini telah menyelesaikan studi di bidang pendidikan dengan fokus disiplin yang beragam (interdisipliner), dan lulus dengan predikat cumlaude atau distinction pada bidang masing-masing, baik pada jenjang sarjana maupun magister.
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Play in the home environment is important for cognitive and socio-emotional development in early childhood. Children’s home environments are made up of multiple play activities (e.g., toys, books, screen time, outdoor play) and are influenced by multiple factors (e.g., availability of resources, parenting behaviours, parental attitudes to play, socio-economic class, parents’ education). This chapter will describe the relevant literature and rationale that led to the Play and Learning in Early Years (PLEY) Study, an online survey of over 300 parents of children aged 6 or under, which measured play activities at home in early childhood and the factors that influence it. The findings of this broad survey shed light on various elements of play in the home environment for young children, such as the time spent in outdoor play, reading/storytime, playing with toys or games and on-screen time, for weekdays as well as weekends. The data collected in this survey also highlight the level of play resources for young children in the home environment such as the number of children’s books available, access to outdoor play equipment (e.g., bicycles, trampolines) and use of screen devices (e.g., television, tablet, smartphone, laptop). This research provides a timely snapshot of the play activities of young children today and discusses the importance of the home play environment. The findings from the PLEY Study are contextualised using a bioecological systems framework, which highlights the connection between the environment and child development.
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Previous studies have found that block play results in better spatial ability which may lead to greater mathematical skills. The current study examined a specific type of block play, structured block play in which a copy of a block configuration is constructed. Structured block play is a difficult cognitive task that requires an understanding of spatial relations, hand-eye coordination, and spatial working memory among others. This preliminary study was designed to determine whether training using structured block play would lead to improvements in skills linked to mathematical thinking. Two groups of children participated in the study. One group played a competitive structured block building game once a week for 8 weeks. A control group was also tested. All participants completed a kindergarten readiness assessment before and after the 8-week period. Children in the block play group showed significant improvements in the computation module of the assessment, showing improvements in the makes a set of objects smaller or larger skills. No such effect was observed for the control group. The results presented demonstrate that young children can, with assistance, engage in structured block play and that they have cognitive benefits from such block building activities.
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In this meta-analysis of 40 studies with 55 independent samples and 7,988 participants, we examined the relation between mathematics vocabulary (MV) and mathematics performance, and we investigated the mechanism underlying this relation. Our findings suggest that MV was moderately related to mathematics performance, r = .49, 95% CI [.47, .51]. Higher-order mathematics tasks that required multistep processes demonstrated a stronger correlation with MV than did foundational mathematics tasks, and this pattern remained stable across development. After partialling out comprehension skills, cognitive skills, or both, the correlation between MV and mathematics performance remained moderate and significant, rpartial = .17 ~.41, with a trend showing a stronger relation between MV and higher-order mathematics tasks than between MV and foundational mathematics tasks. Implications of these findings for theories and practice of MV are discussed.
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This study examined direct and moderated connections among aerobic fitness, objectively measured sedentary to light physical activity (SLPA), moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and executive function (EF) during pre-kindergarten. Children (n = 81) between the ages of 3 and 5 were recruited from 17 classrooms from 7 center-based pre-kindergartens. In the fall (T1) and spring (T2), children were assessed using the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders (HTKS) and Day-Night Stroop, and physical activity (PA) was measured at T1 over 4 days during waking hours within each pre-kindergarten. At T1, aerobic fitness significantly moderated the connection between MVPA and the Day-Night Stroop. For children with low aerobic fitness, time in MVPA predicted higher Day-Night scores, with MVPA unrelated to Day-Night scores for children with high aerobic fitness. Results also showed a similar trend level interaction for the HTKS at T1 between aerobic fitness and MVPA. Between T1 and T2, aerobic fitness also significantly moderated the connection between SLPA with change in HTKS scores. For children with high aerobic fitness, time in SLPA predicted positive change in HTKS scores, with SLPA unrelated to change in HTKS scores for children with low aerobic fitness. Findings are discussed in the context of considering not only how PA and aerobic fitness relate to early cognitive development, but also how sedentary to light activity and aerobic fitness could promote and develop EF.
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Objective The goal of this study was to develop and evaluate a 5-week intervention that targeted self-regulation and healthy food liking through mindfulness and classroom-based games with exposure to fruits and vegetables. Methods Children (mean age, 3.6 ± 0.05 years) in 1 Head Start center received the classroom-based intervention (n = 24) and children in a second did not (n = 15). Assessments of self-regulation and liking of fruits and vegetables were administered pre- and postintervention. Results Children in the intervention, but not the comparison group, experienced significant improvements in behavioral regulation (P = 0.003) and liking of fruits and vegetables (P = 0.02). Conclusions and Implications This study lays a foundation for future research that replicates findings with a larger sample using a randomized controlled design, incorporates more typical mindful eating practices, and includes additional, broader measures of food liking.
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This study describes the implementation and effects of a 32-week teacher-led spatial reasoning intervention in K–2 classrooms. The intervention targeted spatial visualization skills as an integrated feature of regular mathematics instruction. Compared to an active control group, children in the spatial intervention demonstrated gains in spatial language, visual-spatial reasoning, 2D mental rotation, and symbolic number comparison. Overall, the findings highlight the potential significance of attending to and developing young children's spatial thinking as part of early mathematics instruction.
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The present study explored the bidirectional and longitudinal associations between executive function (EF) and early academic skills (math and literacy) across 4 waves of measurement during the transition from preschool to kindergarten using 2 complementary analytical approaches: cross-lagged panel modeling and latent growth curve modeling (LCGM). Participants included 424 children (49% female). On average, children were approximately 4.5 years old at the beginning of the study (M = 4.69, SD = .30) and 55% were enrolled in Head Start. Cross-lagged panel models indicated bidirectional relations between EF and math over preschool, which became directional in kindergarten with only EF predicting math. Moreover, there was a bidirectional relation between math and literacy that emerged in kindergarten. Similarly, LGCM revealed correlated growth between EF and math as well as math and literacy, but not EF and literacy. Exploring the patterns of relations across the waves of the panel model in conjunction with the patterns of relations between intercepts and slopes in the LGCMs led to a more nuanced understanding of the relations between EF and academic skills across preschool and kindergarten. Implications for future research on instruction and intervention development are discussed.
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Innovative ideas in educational psychology, learning, and instruction, originally formulated by Russian psychologist and educator Lev Vygotsky, are currently enjoying unprecedented popularity in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, and Russia. An international team of scholarly contributors provides comprehensive coverage of all the main concepts of Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory. They emphasize its importance for the understanding of child development, and propose specific classroom applications.
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The ‘Executive Functions’ (EFs) of inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility enable us to think before we act, resist temptations or impulsive reactions, stay focused, reason, problem-solve, flexibly adjust to changed demands or priorities, and see things from new and different perspectives. These skills are critical for success in all life's aspects and are sometimes more predictive than even IQ or socioeconomic status. Understandably, there is great interest in improving EFs. It's now clear they can be improved at any age through training and practice, much as physical exercise hones physical fitness. However, despite claims to the contrary, wide transfer does not seem to occur and ‘mindless’ aerobic exercise does little to improve EFs. Important questions remain: How much can EFs be improved (are benefits only superficial) and how long can benefits be sustained? What are the best methods for improving EFs? What about an approach accounts for its success? Do the answers to these differ by individual characteristics such as age or gender? Since stress, sadness, loneliness, or poor health impair EFs, and the reverse enhances EFs, we predict that besides directly train EFs, the most successful approaches for improving EFs will also address emotional, social, and physical needs.
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Some children fare better academically than others, even when family background and school and teacher quality are controlled for (Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2005). Variance in performance that persists when situational variables are held constant suggests that individual differences play an important role in determining whether children thrive or fail in school. In this chapter, we review research on individual differences in self-regulation and their relation to school success. Historically, research on individual differences that bear on school success has focused on general intelligence. A century of empirical evidence has now unequivocally established that intelligence, defined as the “ability to understand complex ideas, to adapt effectively to the environment, to learn from experience, to engage in various forms of reasoning, to overcome obstacles by taking thought” (Neisser et al., 1996, p. 77) has a monotonic, positive relationship with school success (Gottfredson, 2004; Kuncel, Ones, & Sackett, 2010; Lubinski, 2009). In contrast, the relation between school success and temperamental differences among children has only recently attracted serious attention from researchers. Temperament is typically defined as “constitutionally based individual differences in reactivity and self-regulation, in the domains of affect, activity, and attention” (Rothbart & Bates, 2006, p. 100). While assumed to have a substantial genetic basis, temperament is also influenced by experience and demonstrates both stability and change over time.
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Although growing numbers of young English language learners (ELLs) from low-income homes enroll in U.S. schools, there remains a lack of research on how they respond to common school literacy practices including a literacy-enriched play. This exploratory study aims to examine the writing behaviors of six kindergarteners in their classroom's literacy-enriched block center. The results were varied since all children engaged in different types and frequencies of writing. However, most ELLs responded positively to the intervention and practiced their emergent writing skills. Therefore, literacy-enriched play centers can benefit early childhood classrooms serving culturally, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse students.
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Effective early education is essential for academic achievement and positive life outcomes, particularly for children in poverty. Advances in neuroscience suggest that a focus on self-regulation in education can enhance children's engagement in learning and establish beneficial academic trajectories in the early elementary grades. Here, we experimentally evaluate an innovative approach to the education of children in kindergarten that embeds support for self-regulation, particularly executive functions, into literacy, mathematics, and science learning activities. Results from a cluster randomized controlled trial involving 29 schools, 79 classrooms, and 759 children indicated positive effects on executive functions, reasoning ability, the control of attention, and levels of salivary cortisol and alpha amylase. Results also demonstrated improvements in reading, vocabulary, and mathematics at the end of kindergarten that increased into the first grade. A number of effects were specific to high-poverty schools, suggesting that a focus on executive functions and associated aspects of self-regulation in early elementary education holds promise for closing the achievement gap.
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Decades of research demonstrate that a strong curricular approach to preschool education is important for later developmental outcomes. Although these findings have often been used to support the implementation of educational programs based on direct instruction, we argue that guided play approaches can be equally effective at delivering content and are more developmentally appropriate in their focus on child-centered exploration. Guided play lies midway between direct instruction and free play, presenting a learning goal, and scaffolding the environment while allowing children to maintain a large degree of control over their learning. The evidence suggests that such approaches often outperform direct-instruction approaches in encouraging a variety of positive academic outcomes. We argue that guided play approaches are effective because they create learning situations that encourage children to become active and engaged partners in the learning process.
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This important new book synthesizes relevant research on the learning of mathematics from birth into the primary grades from the full range of these complementary perspectives. At the core of early math experts Julie Sarama and Douglas Clements's theoretical and empirical frameworks are learning trajectories-detailed descriptions of children's thinking as they learn to achieve specific goals in a mathematical domain, alongside a related set of instructional tasks designed to engender those mental processes and move children through a developmental progression of levels of thinking. Rooted in basic issues of thinking, learning, and teaching, this groundbreaking body of research illuminates foundational topics on the learning of mathematics with practical and theoretical implications for all ages. Those implications are especially important in addressing equity concerns, as understanding the level of thinking of the class and the individuals within it, is key in serving the needs of all children.
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Fifty-one preschoolers’ play preferences, skills at assembling block structures, and spatial abilities were recorded in this study. There were no sex differences in children’s visual-spatial skills, and play with art materials and children’s free and structured play with blocks were related to spatial visualisation. Two patterns emerged from the findings: (1) activity and performance representing skills in spatial visualisation and visual-motor coordination; and (2) creativity, or the ability to break set and to produce varied solutions using visual materials. Future research might examine the extent to which children’s play activities and experiences predict these types of skills.
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We investigated criteria preschool children use to distinguish members of a class of shapes from other figures. We conducted individual clinical interviews of 97 children ages 3 to 6, empha- sizing identification and descriptions of shapes and reasons for these identifications. We found that young children initially form schemas on the basis of feature analysis of visual forms. While these schemas are developing, children continue to rely primarily on visual matching to distinguish shapes. They are, however, also capable of recognizing components and simple properties of familiar shapes. Thus, evidence supports previous claims (Clements & Battista, 1992b) that a prerecognitive level exists before van Hiele Level 1 ("visual level") and that Level 1 should be reconceptualized as syncretic (i.e., a synthesis of verbal declarative and imagistic knowledge, each interacting with the other) instead of visual (Clements, 1992).
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Understanding the determinants of socioeconomic status (SES) is an important economic and social goal. Several major influences on SES are known, yet much of the variance in SES remains unexplained. In a large, population-representative sample from the United Kingdom, we tested the effects of mathematics and reading achievement at age 7 on attained SES by age 42. Mathematics and reading ability both had substantial positive associations with adult SES, above and beyond the effects of SES at birth, and with other important factors, such as intelligence. Achievement in mathematics and reading was also significantly associated with intelligence scores, academic motivation, and duration of education. These findings suggest effects of improved early mathematics and reading on SES attainment across the life span.
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Research Findings: Behavioral regulation (the integration of attention, working memory, and inhibitory control) is critical for school readiness and early academic achievement. In Taiwan, however, where academic success is highly valued, there is a dearth of assessments available to measure young children's behavioral regulation. The present study examined the validity of a direct measure of behavioral regulation, the Head-to-Toes Task (HTT), in Taiwanese 3.5- to 4.5-year-olds. The goals were to (a) investigate the nature and variability of HTT scores and (b) explore relations between HTT scores and early math and vocabulary skills and teacher-rated classroom behavioral regulation in the spring of the preschool year. Results indicated that the HTT captured substantial variability and was significantly related to early math and vocabulary skills after controlling for age, mother's education level, and teacher-rated classroom behavioral regulation but was not significantly related to teacher ratings of classroom behavioral regulation. Practice or Policy: These findings suggest that the HTT may be a useful measure of behavioral regulation for Taiwanese preschoolers and provide evidence for the importance of behavioral regulation for academic achievement in Taiwan. Practical implications focus on supporting the development of behavioral regulation in early childhood settings, which can promote early school success.
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Research Findings: The present study examined the efficacy of a self-regulation intervention with 65 preschool children. Using circle time games, the study examined whether participating in a treatment group significantly improved behavioral self-regulation and early academic outcomes. Half of the children were randomly assigned to participate in 16 playgroups during the winter of the school year. Behavioral aspects of self-regulation and early achievement were assessed in the fall and spring. Although there was no treatment effect in the overall sample, post hoc analyses revealed that participation in the treatment group was significantly related to self-regulation gains in children who started the year with low levels of these skills. Children in the treatment group also demonstrated significant letter-word identification gains compared to children in the control group. Practice or Policy: The findings from this study provide preliminary evidence for the efficacy of the intervention in terms of improving preschoolers’ behavioral self-regulation for children low in these skills and improving letter-word identification. Although preliminary, these results have the potential to inform preschool curricula that emphasize behavioral self-regulation as a means of facilitating school readiness.
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The aim of this study was to examine relationships among pretend play, creativity, emotion regulation, and executive functioning in children. Pretend play processes were assessed using the Affect in Play Scale (APS), which measures children's cognitive and affective processes, such as organization of a plot or use of emotions. Sixty-one female participants, in kindergarten through fourth grade, were assessed using the APS to measure pretend play ability, a divergent thinking task (the Alternate Uses Test), a storytelling task to assess creativity, a measure of executive functioning (the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task, Short Form; WCST-64), and parent report on the Emotion Regulation Checklist (ERC). Using correlational analyses, pretend play significantly related to creativity as measured by divergent thinking and storytelling, and related to emotion regulation. Affect expression in play was significantly related to affect expression in storytelling suggesting cross-situational stability. Divergent thinking ability was significantly related to creativity in storytelling. In general the magnitudes of the correlations were of medium effect size. No significant relationships were found with executive functioning. The results of this study support theories that suggest play, creativity, and emotion regulation are linked. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Attempted to examine the generalizability of environment/development relationships among 3 ethnic groups across the first 3 years of life. Social status did not show a consistent relationship to either quality of home environment or children's developmental status across the various groups. Results indicated a fairly consistent relationship between HOME scores and children's developmental status, although there were some ethnic and social status differences in the relationship. Measures of specific aspects of the child's home environment, such as parental responsivity and availability of stimulating play materials, were more strongly related to child developmental status than global measures of environmental quality such as SES. When the child's developmental status and early home environment were both very low, the likelihood of poor developmental outcomes was markedly increased compared with cases when only one was low. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Abstract— 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.
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Identifying the types of mathematics content knowledge that are most predictive of students' long-term learning is essential for improving both theories of mathematical development and mathematics education. To identify these types of knowledge, we examined long-term predictors of high school students' knowledge of algebra and overall mathematics achievement. Analyses of large, nationally representative, longitudinal data sets from the United States and the United Kingdom revealed that elementary school students' knowledge of fractions and of division uniquely predicts those students' knowledge of algebra and overall mathematics achievement in high school, 5 or 6 years later, even after statistically controlling for other types of mathematical knowledge, general intellectual ability, working memory, and family income and education. Implications of these findings for understanding and improving mathematics learning are discussed.
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There is growing evidence that socioeconomic (SES)-related differences in mathematical knowledge begin in early childhood, because young children from economically disadvantaged families receive less support for mathematical development than their middle-class peers receive. A pre-kindergarten mathematics intervention, including a pre-kindergarten mathematics curriculum, was developed and implemented in public and private preschools serving low- and middle-income families. Mathematical knowledge of intervention and comparison children was comprehensively assessed. A significant SES-related gap in mathematical knowledge was found at the beginning of the pre-kindergarten year. The intervention significantly enhanced the mathematical knowledge of children at both levels of SES. Low-income children acquired more knowledge, relative to their starting point, than middle-income children. The extent of mathematical knowledge was similar in low-income intervention children and middle-income comparison children. Implications of this research for early childhood education curricula and educational policy are discussed.
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Understanding the development of spatial skills is important for promoting school readiness and improving overall success in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields (e.g., Wai, Lubinski, Benbow, & Steiger, 2010). Children use their spatial skills to understand the world, including visualizing how objects fit together, and can practice them via spatial assembly activities (e.g., puzzles or blocks). These skills are incorporated into measures of overall intelligence and have been linked to success in subjects like mathematics (Mix & Cheng, 2012) and science (Pallrand & Seeber, 1984; Pribyl & Bodner, 1987). This monograph sought to answer four questions about early spatial skill development: 1) Can we reliably measure spatial skills in 3- and 4-year-olds?; 2) Do spatial skills measured at 3 predict spatial skills at age 5?; 3) Do preschool spatial skills predict mathematics skills at age 5?; and 4) What factors contribute to individual differences in preschool spatial skills (e.g., SES, gender, fine-motor skills, vocabulary, and executive function)? Longitudinal data generated from a new spatial skill test for 3-year-old children, called the TOSA (Test of Spatial Assembly), show that it is a reliable and valid measure of early spatial skills that provides strong prediction to spatial skills measured with established tests at age 5. New data using this measure finds links between early spatial skill and mathematics, language, and executive function skills. Analyses suggest that preschool spatial experiences may play a central role in children's mathematical skills around the time of school entry. Executive function skills provide an additional unique contribution to predicting mathematical performance. In addition, individual differences, specifically socioeconomic status, are related to spatial and mathematical skill. We conclude by exploring ways of providing rich early spatial experiences to children.
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Block play has been included in early childhood classrooms for over a century, yet few studies have examined its effects on learning. Several previous investigations indicate that the complexity of block building is associated with math ability, but these studies were often conducted in adult-guided, laboratory settings. In the present investigation, the relationship of block play variables to both the complexity of block structures and math learning was studied in naturalistic free play settings. A total of 41 preschool children were videorecorded playing with blocks. Time in blocks, number of structures built, levels of social participation, frequency of teacher interactions, percentage of buildings without replica play toys, and structure complexity were coded. Findings indicated that level of social participation and percentage of structures built without toys predicted the complexity of children’s buildings. This building complexity was, in turn, associated with growth in math learning, as measured by Tools for Early Assessment in Mathematics. Based on these findings, a path model was constructed to hypothesize causal relationships between block play features, structure complexity, and math learning.
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The current study investigated the relations between the three cognitive processes that comprise executive functioning (EF)-response inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility-and individual components of mathematics and literacy skills in preschool children. Participants were 125 preschool children ranging in age from 3.12 to 5.26years (M=4.17years, SD=0.58). Approximately 53.2% were female, and the sample was predominantly Caucasian (69.8%). Results suggest that the components of EF may be differentially related to the specific components of early mathematics and literacy. For mathematics, response inhibition was broadly related to most components. Working memory was related to more advanced mathematics skills that involve comparison or combination of numbers and quantities. Cognitive flexibility was related to more conceptual or abstract mathematics skills. For early literacy, response inhibition and cognitive flexibility were related to print knowledge, and working memory was related only to phonological awareness. None of the EF components was related to vocabulary. These findings provide initial evidence for better understanding the ways in which EF components and academic skills are related and measured. Furthermore, the findings provide a foundation for further study of the components of each domain using a broader and more diverse array of measures.
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A decade ago I wrote an article entitled Technology as play in which I called for early childhood educators to rethink the way in which they regard play. This involved not only incorporating the notion of playing with new technologies but also critiqued the essence of what constituted play and the link with learning that was viewed uncritically. Here, I review and update this discussion, revisit the literature about how play is conceptualised and suggest that, while play is an essential component of exemplary early childhood experiences, it needs to be related to new technologies and pedagogical practices that are designed to support learning in diverse ways, rather than being regarded as the only catalyst for learning that occurs automatically in all types of play contexts.
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The development of early numeracy knowledge is influenced by a number of non-mathematical factors—particularly language skills. However, much of the focus on the relation between language and early numeracy has utilized general language measures and not domain-specific measures of mathematical language. The primary purpose of this study was to determine if the variance accounted for by general language skills in predicting numeracy performance was better accounted for by mathematical language. Further, age- and parental education-related differences in mathematical language performance were explored. Using a sample of 136 3- to 5-year-old preschool and kindergarten children (M = 4.28 years, SD = 0.67 years), a series of mixed-effect regressions were conducted. Results indicated that although general language performance was initially a significant predictor of numeracy performance, when both mathematical language and general language were included in the model, only mathematical language was a significant predictor of numeracy performance. Further, group-difference analyses revealed that children from families where both parents had less than a college education performed significantly lower on mathematical language than their peers; and even by 3-years-old, children have acquired a substantial body of mathematical language skills. Implications and future directions are discussed.
Article
Both mathematical language and the approximate number system (ANS) have been identified as strong predictors of early mathematics performance. Yet, these relations may be different depending on a child's developmental level. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relations between these domains across different levels of ability. Participants included 114 children who were assessed in the fall and spring of preschool on a battery of academic and cognitive tasks. Children were 3.12 to 5.26 years old (M = 4.18, SD = .58) and 53.6% were girls. Both mixed-effect and quantile regressions were conducted. The mixed-effect regressions indicated that mathematical language, but not the ANS, nor other cognitive domains, predicted mathematics performance. However, the quantile regression analyses revealed a more nuanced relation among domains. Specifically, it was found that mathematical language and the ANS predicted mathematical performance at different points on the ability continuum. These dual nonlinear relations indicate that different mechanisms may enhance mathematical acquisition dependent on children's developmental abilities. (PsycINFO Database Record
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Research findings: Young children develop numeracy competencies during interactions with more knowledgeable others. Such interactions typically occur in the 'Home Numeracy Environment' (HNE). In this study a non-intensive intervention procedure was developed to improve both the HNE and numerical competencies. All parents of 113 Australian children (aged 4 years, 5 months on average at the beginning of the study) were invited to participate in a two-part intervention that included attending one group meeting at which information regarding the HNE was provided, and participating in an additional individual session that introduced them to the principles of counting. The HNE and children's numerical competencies were assessed before and after the intervention. Participating and non-participating families did not differ in any of the study variables at the beginning of the study, yet the intervention group not only significantly improved their HNE, and the children in this group also showed significantly greater numerical competency development when compared with the non-participating group. Practice or Policy: Results indicate that less intensive interventions can have effects on the HNE and children's numerical competencies. Consequently, even on small budgets interventions should be undertaken.
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Research Findings: Children from families of lower socioeconomic status (SES) enter kindergarten with less developed mathematical knowledge compared to children from middle SES families. This discrepancy is present at age 3 years and likely stems from differences in the home learning environment. This study reports SES-related differences both in the quantity and quality of mathematical support children receive in the home and in parent beliefs about early mathematical development and then compares both with children's performance on a comprehensive mathematics assessment. Participants included 90 children in their 1st year of preschool (2 years before kindergarten entry) and 88 children in their prekindergarten year (the year just prior to kindergarten entry). Both cohorts were balanced for SES and gender. The results suggested minimal SES-related variation in mathematical support received in either cohort but clear SES differences in parents’ beliefs about early mathematical development. Middle SES parents of children in both cohorts held higher expectations in terms of skills they expected children to possess by age 5, as well as a more accurate understanding of which skills are within the developmental range of most children by age 5. These differences accounted for unique variance in children's scores on the mathematics assessment. Practice or Policy: Implications are discussed.
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A critical component in enhancing academic success is identifying children at risk of later academic difficulties. Although significant efforts have been devoted to design effective assessment processes in elementary school, fewer efforts (particularly for mathematics) have been made for preschool. The focus of this study was to design and evaluate a brief early numeracy skills screening tool. Measure development and validation occurred in a two-stage process with diverse and distinct samples. In the first stage, 393 preschool children were assessed on a battery of early numeracy tasks. By use of an item response theory framework, 24 items that spanned the ability continuum were selected for inclusion in the brief measure. In the second stage, 129 preschool children were assessed on the brief measure, the Test of Early Mathematics Ability–Third Edition, and two literacy measures. The data resulted in acceptable psychometric properties and strong diagnostic accuracy. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
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Validating the structure of informal numeracy skills is critical to understanding the developmental trajectories of mathematics skills at early ages; however, little research has been devoted to construct evaluation of the Numbering, Relations, and Arithmetic Operations domains. This study was designed to address this knowledge gap by examining the structure of these three numeracy skill domains and examining the relations among these domains. Three hundred ninety-three children participated in the study (51.7% girls, 55.7% White, 33.8% African American, and 10.5% other). Results indicated that the relations among the informal numeracy skills were best explained by a three-factor model that included Numbering, Relations, and Arithmetic Operations factors, and this factor structure was the same in both younger and older preschool children.
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The present study examined the efficacy of a self-regulation intervention for children experiencing demographic risk. Utilizing a randomized controlled design, analyses examined if children (N = 276 children in 14 Head Start classrooms; M age = 51.69, SD = 6.55) who participated in an 8-week self-regulation intervention demonstrated greater gains in self-regulation and academic achievement over the preschool year compared to children in a control group. In addition, indirect intervention effects on achievement outcomes through self-regulation were explored and differential intervention effects for English language learners within a sample of children from low-income families were tested. Results indicated that children in the intervention group demonstrated stronger levels of self-regulation compared to the control group in the spring of the preschool year. Group comparisons also revealed that the intervention was related to significantly higher math skills for children who were English language learners. In other words, English language learners who participated in the intervention demonstrated stronger levels of math in the spring of preschool in comparison to children in the control group and relative to English speakers who also participated in the intervention. The present study provides support for the efficacy of a school readiness intervention in promoting self-regulation and achievement in young children, especially English language learners.
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Although there is evidence that young children's inhibitory control (IC) is related to their academic skills, the nature of this relation and the role of potential moderators of it are not well understood. In this meta-analytic study, we summarized results from 75 peer-reviewed studies of preschool and kindergarten children (14,424 children; 32-80 months old [M = 54.71 months; SD = 9.70]) across a wide range of socioeconomic status. The mean effect size (r) across studies was .27 (95% confidence interval [.24, .29]), indicating a moderate and statistically significant association between self-regulation and academic skills. The association between IC and academic skills was moderated by type of IC behavior task (i.e., hot vs. cool behavior task), by method of assessing IC (i.e., behavior task vs. parent report), and by academic subject (i.e., literacy vs. math), but not by other methods of assessing IC (i.e., behavior task vs. teacher report, parent report vs. teacher report) or by grade (i.e., preschool vs. kindergarten). The results of this meta-analysis suggest that there are preferred methods for assessing IC (i.e., cool behavior tasks, teacher reports) that should be considered when examining the relations between IC and academic skills in young children. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
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This study focuses on three main goals: First, 3-year-olds' spatial assembly skills are probed using interlocking block constructions (N = 102). A detailed scoring scheme provides insight into early spatial processing and offers information beyond a basic accuracy score. Second, the relation of spatial assembly to early mathematical skills was evaluated. Spatial skill independently predicted a significant amount of the variability in concurrent mathematical performance. Finally, the relation between spatial assembly skill and socioeconomic status (SES), gender, and parent-reported spatial language was examined. While children's performance did not differ by gender, lower SES children were already lagging behind higher SES children in block assembly. Furthermore, lower SES parents reported using significantly fewer spatial words with their children.