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Preschoolers' cognitive and emotional self-regulation in pretend play: Relations with executive functions and quality of play
Slot, Pauline L.; Mulder, Hanna; Verhagen, Josje; Leseman, Paul P. M.

The preschool period is marked by rapid growth of children's self-regulation and related executive functions. Self-regulation is considered an important aspect of school readiness and is related to academic and social-emotional outcomes in childhood. Pretend play, as part of the early childhood curriculum, is hypothesized to support self-regulation. An important question concerns whether self-regulation should be considered an individual ability or, partly, a situated skill that is influenced by aspects of the classroom context. The aims of this study were to investigate the degree to which 3-year-olds showed cognitive and emotional self-regulation in a naturalistic play setting and to examine how test-based measures of children's cool and hot executive functions and the quality of their pretend play contributed to this observed self-regulation. The results indicated that 3-year-olds showed aspects of cognitive and emotional self-regulation. Cool executive functions appeared significantly related to emotional self-regulation, whereas hot executive functions were not significantly related to cognitive or emotional self-regulation. The quality of pretend play was strongly associated with cognitive self-regulation and, to a lesser extent, emotional self-regulation. The findings of this study suggest that both preschoolers' cool executive functions and the quality of play contributed to their self-regulation skills in naturalistic settings. Highlights - Preschoolers' cognitive and emotional self-regulation in a naturalistic play setting are two interrelated but separate constructs. - Children's cognitive executive functions predict observed emotional self-regulation during pretend play. - The quality of pretend play is strongly associated with children's cognitive self-regulation and, to a lesser extent, emotional self-regulation. (author abstract)

Reports & Papers

November/December 2017

Preschool math exposure in private center-based care and low-SES children's math development
Bachman, Heather J.; Degol, Jessica L.; Elliott, Leanne; Scharphorn, Laura; El Nokali, Nermeen E.; Palmer, Kalani M.;

Research Findings: The present study examined the amount of exposure to math activities that children of low socioeconomic status (SES) encounter in private community-based preschool classrooms and whether greater time in these activities predicted higher math skills. Three cohorts of 4- to 5-year-old children were recruited from 30 private centers, resulting in a sample of 288 children nested within 73 preschool classrooms. Classroom observations were conducted for 150 min during fall and winter of the preschool year using a time sampling method. Preschoolers were exposed to an average daily amount of 2 min (range = 0-23) of math exposure. Hierarchical linear models were run to examine associations between math exposure and math achievement. Children's exposure to math activities significantly and positively predicted their spring math scores, but associations between math exposure and math scores were stronger for children with lower initial cognitive abilities and self-regulation skills. Practice or Policy: Our findings revealed generally low levels of math instruction occurring in private child care centers primarily serving low-SES children. Even limited exposure to math activities predicted children's math skills, however, which highlights the importance of math content in these settings. (author abstract)

Reports & Papers

April, 2018

Parenting predictors of delay inhibition in socioeconomically disadvantaged preschoolers
Merz, Emily C.; Landry, Susan H.; Zucker, Tricia A.; Barnes, Marcia A.; Assel, Michael A.; Taylor, Heather B.; Lonigan, Christopher J.; Phillips, Beth M.; Clancy-Menchetti, Jeanine; Eisenberg, Nancy; Spinrad, Tracy L.; Valiente, Carlos; De Villiers, Jill; School Readiness Research Consortium;

This study examined longitudinal associations between specific parenting factors and delay inhibition in socioeconomically disadvantaged preschoolers. At Time 1, parents and 2- to 4-year-old children (mean age =3.21 years; N=247) participated in a videotaped parent-child free play session, and children completed delay inhibition tasks (gift delay-wrap, gift delay-bow, and snack delay tasks). Three months later, at Time 2, children completed the same set of tasks. Parental responsiveness was coded from the parent-child free play sessions, and parental directive language was coded from transcripts of a subset of 127 of these sessions. Structural equation modelling was used, and covariates included age, gender, language skills, parental education, and Time 1 delay inhibition. Results indicated that in separate models, Time 1 parental directive language was significantly negatively associated with Time 2 delay inhibition, and Time 1 parental responsiveness was significantly positively associated with Time 2 delay inhibition. When these parenting factors were entered simultaneously, Time 1 parental directive language significantly predicted Time 2 delay inhibition whereas Time 1 parental responsiveness was no longer significant. Findings suggest that parental language that modulates the amount of autonomy allotted the child may be an important predictor of early delay inhibition skills. (author abstract)

Reports & Papers

September/October 2016

Preschool teachers' classroom behavioral socialization practices and low-income children's self-regulation skills
Degol, Jessica L.; Bachman, Heather J.;

The present study examined associations between teachers' classroom behavioral socialization practices and the development of preschoolers' self-regulation skills throughout the year, as well as the moderating roles of child gender and initial self-regulation skills. The predominantly low-income sample consisted of 216 children from 68 preschool classrooms within 29 private child care centers. Findings suggest that teachers devoted very little time to whole-group classroom behavioral socialization practices. Hierarchical linear models revealed that classroom behavioral socialization time negatively predicted both spring self-regulation scores (lagged dependent variable models) and change in children's self-regulation scores from fall to spring (change score models). These patterns remained even after controlling for a variety of child, family, teacher, and classroom characteristics. Cross-level interactions indicated that the negative association between behavioral socialization time and change in self-regulation was stronger for girls than for boys. Preschoolers' initial self-regulation in the fall did not moderate the association between behavioral socialization time and self-regulation in either model. Implications for practice are discussed. (author abstract)

Reports & Papers

Q2 2015

Associations among parental education, home environment quality, effortful control, and preacademic knowledge
Merz, Emily C.; Landry, Susan H.; Williams, Jeffrey M.; Barnes, Marcia A.; Eisenberg, Nancy; Spinrad, Tracy L.; Valiente, Carlos; Assel, Michael A.; Taylor, Heather B.; Lonigan, Christopher J.; Phillips, Beth M.; Clancy-Menchetti, Jeanine;

This study used a longitudinal design to examine whether effortful control mediated the associations of parental education and home environment quality with preacademic knowledge in toddlers and young preschoolers. The sample consisted of 226 children (2 to 4 years of age at T1) from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Parents provided data on parent education and home environment quality. Children completed effortful control, early literacy, and early math assessments. T2 effortful control partially mediated the associations of T1 parental education and T1 home environment quality with T3 emergent literacy after accounting for child age, gender, race/ethnicity, T1 effortful control, and T2 early literacy. T2 effortful control partially mediated the association between T1 parental education and T3 emergent math after accounting for child age, gender, race/ethnicity, T1 effortful control, and T2 early math. Prior to entry into preschool, parental education and home environment quality may shape effortful control which in turn influences preacademic knowledge. (author abstract)

Reports & Papers

July/August 2014

Early non-parental care and toddler behaviour problems: Links with temperamental negative affectivity and inhibitory control
Beijers, Roseriet; Riksen-Walraven, J. Marianne; Putnam, Samuel; de Jong, Marjanneke; de Weerth, Carolina;

This longitudinal study examined the link between multiple aspects of early non-parental care and internalizing and externalizing behaviour at 30 months of age. We also examined whether this link was mediated by children's inhibitory control and moderated by early temperamental negative affectivity. Participants were 193 mothers and their infants (91 girls; 79 firstborn). Negative affectivity was measured with a temperament questionnaire at 3 months of age. Information on non-parental care (i.e. centre-based care, number of hours, number of concurrent arrangements, long-term instability of care and age of entry) was obtained through monthly maternal interviews across the first year of life. At 30 months of age, toddlers' inhibitory control was measured with observational tasks, and behaviour problem questionnaires were completed by the mothers and the caregivers. The mediation model was not supported. Greater observed inhibitory control, however, was related to less caregiver-reported internalizing and externalizing behaviour. Furthermore, negative affectivity moderated the effect of early non-parental care on behaviour problems. Non-parental care was unrelated to behaviour problems in toddlers who displayed low or mean levels of negative affectivity as infants. For infants high in negativity, however, centre-based care was associated with higher mother-rated internalizing and externalizing problems. In sum, the link between aspects of non-parental care during the first year of life and toddlers' behaviour problems was not mediated through inhibitory control. Instead, inhibitory control and non-parental care, in conjunction with negative affectivity, appear to be two independent predictors of toddlers' internalizing and externalizing behaviour. (author abstract)

Reports & Papers

Q4 2013