Relating effortful control, executive function, and false belief understanding to emerging math and literacy ability in kindergarten

Child Dev. Mar-Apr 2007;78(2):647-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01019.x.


This study examined the role of self-regulation in emerging academic ability in one hundred and forty-one 3- to 5-year-old children from low-income homes. Measures of effortful control, false belief understanding, and the inhibitory control and attention-shifting aspects of executive function in preschool were related to measures of math and literacy ability in kindergarten. Results indicated that the various aspects of child self-regulation accounted for unique variance in the academic outcomes independent of general intelligence and that the inhibitory control aspect of executive function was a prominent correlate of both early math and reading ability. Findings suggest that curricula designed to improve self-regulation skills as well as enhance early academic abilities may be most effective in helping children succeed in school.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aptitude*
  • Attention
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Culture*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Personal Construct Theory*
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Problem Solving*
  • Reading*
  • Temperament