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What are the Effects of Initial Skill Level and Socioeconomic Status on Executive Function?

What is This Study About?

In this article, we discuss the study “Examining Moderators of Response to Executive Function Reflection Training: Initial Skill & Socioeconomic Status” Schubert, Erin. (2016). In the study, the researcher sought to determine why executive function (EF) training did not improve skill levels for all children who participated in it. The success of EF training varied among children, with factors like initial executive function skill level and socioeconomic status (SES) potentially influencing training outcomes. Overall, the study highlights the importance of measuring and understanding where your child’s EF skill level falls to ensure that training is tailored to their specific needs.

Key Takeaways From the Study:

EF Level Influence:

  • Children with lower  EF tend to show more improvement through interventions, possibly because they have more room for improvement.
  • Recent studies support the idea that those with the “most to gain” indeed show the most improvement.

Socioeconomic Status (SES) Influence:

  • SES can significantly impact various aspects that affect learning, including cognitive ability and EF.
  • There is a tendency for children from lower SES families to exhibit lower EF performance.
  • SES also influences parenting practices, affecting children’s EF. Often, parents in lower SES circumstances do not have a lot of free time to provide their children with high-quality learning activities at home.

Study Objectives:

  • The researchers wanted to identify how EF and SES affect children’s responsiveness to EF reflection training.
  • The hypothesis suggests that children with low EF that are from lower SES families will see more benefits from the intervention.

Initial EF Level Moderation:

  • Participants with lower initial EF tend to show more improvement through interventions, possibly because they have more room for enhancement.
  • Recent reviews support the idea that those with the “most to gain” indeed show the most improvement.

SES Moderation:

  • SES can significantly impact various indicators, including cognitive ability and EF.
  • There is a tendency for children from lower SES families to exhibit lower EF performance.
  • SES also influences parenting practices, affecting children’s EF.

Study Objectives:

  • The research aimed to identify how initial EF and SES impact responsiveness to EF reflection training.
  • The hypothesis suggests that children with low initial EF and from lower SES families will see more benefits from the intervention.

 

Actionable Steps for Parents:

You can draw insights from this study to support your child’s development

Understand Your Child’s Initial EF:  

  • Assess your child’s initial executive function level by observing their ability to regulate attention and control impulses.
  • Recognize that children with lower initial EF may benefit more from targeted interventions.
  • Try: testing your child’s EF level using this 5-minute experience. 
  • Read: Executive Function Ages and Stages for a closer look at how EF skills develop from Pre-K to age 12.

Encourage EF-Boosting Activities:

 

  • Engage your child in activities that stimulate executive function skills, such as puzzles, games, and activities requiring focused attention.
  • Provide a supportive environment with learning resources to foster cognitive development.
  • Try: checking out books, puzzles, and games from your public library to provide a variety of types of engagement.
  • Play: Let’s Sort It Out!, a fun sorting activity with so many options for EF practice at all ages.

Develop an Intervention Strategy

 

  • Understand your child’s unique EF strengths and opportunities for growth.
  • Create a go-to list of interventions to help support them where they need it most.
  • Be consistent and provide plenty of praise for gains!
  • Try: creating an intervention journal to track your child’s progress and make note of what works and what doesn’t.
  • Read: Strengthening EF Skills at Home by guest blogger Nicole Rouleau to learn more about establishing routines and setting goals toward building stronger EF skills with your child.

    Want to learn more about executive function skills? Take our free online course.

    How does your child engage with nature in their day-to-day lives? Read our summary of a study that breaks down how playing in nature can help improve Executive Function!