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"No-o-o-o peeking": Preschoolers' executive control, social competence, and classroom adjustment

The goals of this study were to evaluate (1) how specific aspects of executive control, briefly assessed, predict social competence and classroom adjustment during preschool and (2) differences between two aspects of executive control, according to child's age, socioeconomic risk status, and gender. The facets of executive control were defined as cool executive control (CEC; affectively neutral, slow acting, and late developing) and hot executive control (HEC; more emotional, fast acting, and early developing). Two hundred eighty-seven 3- to 5-year-old children from private child care and Head Start centers were directly assessed during executive control tasks, and preschool teachers provided information on their school success. Aspects of executive control varied with age, socioeconomic risk, and gender. Specifically, older children performed better on CEC tasks across three age levels; for HEC tasks, change was seen only between 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds. Children of mothers with less formal education performed less well on CEC than those whose mothers had more education; girls performed better than boys on HEC tasks. Further, facets of executive control were differentially related to later social competence and classroom adjustment. HEC predicted social competence, whereas CEC uniquely predicted classroom adjustment. Implications for everyday practice and specific curricula formulation are discussed. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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