Cascade Psychology in Pre-K & Kindergarten

Cascade Psychology in Pre-K & Kindergarten

Cascade Psychology in Pre-K & Kindergarten

Executive Function is the organization of functions into areas that encompass a person’s life in which human traits and potential are integrated in a way that enhances and supports the person. Executive Function is presented as the sum of the individuals’ essential, cognitive and psychological aspects of the development of a person, with an additional component – their emotional abilities – that affects how a person manifests personality and life. This allows schools to treat children as developing as a cohesive whole and to reevaluate their methodology to benefit all children.

Executive Function is A Critical Step

Executive Function has been firmly linked to early childhood neurodevelopment and achievement and has been an important driver of cognitive and academic achievement for decades. Researchers at Babson College reported that the only bright spots observed in students in 10th and 11th grade came from those kids whose executive function was in a healthy state. This finding is disconcerting to education experts. It provides the foundation for their belief that the extent to which a child’s executive function contributes to their learning level is connected to their school performance in elementary school, where the linkage of executive function is especially critical.

Executive Function May Not Develop Quickly

What’s more, long term studies using MRI neuroimaging have reported that students who were struggling in school at the age of 4 were more likely to be behind in school when they were 7. Students who have difficulty sustaining behavior and memory strategies at an early age show activity in brain structures related to executive function. In fact, this developmental stage is a critical point when executive function is most compromised. Yet, as children progress in their development, they seem to acquire these executive functions and steadily improve. Research from the University of Arizona has shown that the neural changes associated with executive function become more significant as children advance through school, thereby making them more likely to become involved in higher level academic achievement and learning.

In pre-K classrooms, there is a heavy focus on, and emphasis placed on, literacy and numeracy. Many states have even labeled reading as a “core” competency for 4th grade. One question that needs to be asked in the coming years is, if the domain of “reading” is so important, why aren’t there mandatory early reading years in elementary school? If a child’s success is based on certain developmental milestones, then that child shouldn’t fall through the cracks with high school because they haven’t mastered those milestones or produced high reading test scores.

The Answering Question

Research has reported that reading has a snowball effect on other key developmental areas. Research from the State University of New York has found that students who scored as close to proficient on reading tests as possible at 6th grade have a 50 percent increased chance of scoring proficient on fourth grade reading tests. What’s more, the initial reading test results aren’t predictive of high school performance, even if those scores are considered high in the state. The question becomes, what are those tests used for?

As the fourth grade is becoming the benchmark for what we think are the children’s “core competencies,” what are the other developmental areas for which students are focused?

Kids are exposed to a wide variety of developmental styles. It is an evolving process to determine what the various instructional styles mean and how a school should accommodate a child. This all comes together in the developmental stage of elementary school.

Story from Contact: Katrina Schwartz

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