In schools today, we are seeing an increasing number of students experiencing difficulties adjusting and being successful in their early years. Children enter Kindergarten at different stages of social, emotional, behavioural and academic development. Children that start off struggling in Kindergarten often continue that struggle into the primary grades and beyond. In Kindergarten, children's literacy and numeracy skills develop, but children also need to develop skills to follow directions, communicate their wants, needs and thoughts verbally, be enthusiastic and curious about learning, have a sense of wonder, and be sensitive to other children’s feelings.
The purpose of this website is to help teachers understand the role of self regulation and executive function processes in student success. We need to be aware of the different strengths and needs that students bring to their learning. Academic success is linked to a student's ability to master such processes as goal setting, planning, prioritizing, organizing, shifting flexibly, holding/manipulating information in working memory, and self-monitoring. These skills are termed as executive function processes. It is important for teachers to teach strategies about each executive function process to help students understand how they think and how they learn.
There needs to be more of a focus on developing emotional, attentional and behavioural regulation in all children, not just children that are exhibiting difficulties. Studies have shown that this is a more effective strategy in promoting school success than only focusing on academic achievement. Children need to acquire the capacity to persevere in working at a task, they need skills to sustain and focus their attention and the ability to hold information in mind long enough to relate one piece of information to another. And students need to be taught these skills. Research has proven that deficits in executive function skills affect the development of early literacy and numeracy.
Teachers are often looking for ways to improve student academic success and one way to do so is by understanding and using strategies to promote self-regulation and executive function skills. The learning environment and instructional methods play an important role in this process. This website informs the primary teacher about self-regulation and the development of executive function skills. The website describes some characteristics of learning needs and provides links to additional websites for teachers to identify and help children that are struggling. Many strategies for differentiated intervention based on specific executive function skills are recommended. The role of executive function and reading is explored to help teachers understand how they go hand in hand. It is hoped that this information and the many website links that I have provided will help teachers create a learning environment that will promote executive function skills to improve early literacy and numeracy.
There are many pieces of the puzzle to fit together in order to understand the whole child and provide a learning environment that meets all needs.