Self-regulation intervention improves school readiness (Best Evidence in Brief)

One of my favorite newsletters has turned 5 recently and now has it’s own online Best Evidence in Brief archive.

In the latest issue of this fine newsletter, this study caught my eye because it suggests a long term impact of working on executive functions which has been an issue in the past.

Adding a self-regulation intervention to a school readiness program can improve self-regulation, early academic skills, and school readiness in children at higher risk for later school difficulties, according to the results of a study published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
Robert J. Duncan and colleagues looked at the effect of adding a self-regulation intervention to the Bridge to Kindergarten (B2K) program – a three-week summer school-readiness program – in Oregon. The B2K program is aimed at children with no prior preschool experience, and therefore considered to be at risk for later school difficulties.
Children from three to five years old were randomly assigned to either a control group (B2K only) or the intervention group (B2K plus intervention). Children in the intervention group received two 20- to 30-minute sessions per week, involving movement and music-based games that encouraged them to practice self-regulation skills.
Results from this randomized controlled trial indicated that children who received the intervention scored higher on measures of self-regulation than children who participated in the B2K program alone. There were no significant effects on math or literacy at the end of the program. However, four months into kindergarten, children from the intervention group showed increased growth in self-regulation, math, and literacy compared to expected development.
The researchers do note that their research contradicts previous findings to a certain extent:
…in the current study, there is no evidence that children participating in the B2K + RLPL program returned to where they would have otherwise performed had they not received the program. Based on the comparison sample, the gains that children made during the three weeks of B2K + RLPL were largely followed by continued greater-than-expected growth in skills during the months following the program.
Still the RCT on exactly the long term effects has its limits:
Third, study design limitations prevented a RCT examining the longer-term effects of B2K (or B2K + RLPL) participation on school readiness compared to non-participation. The study is limited to using a comparison sample of children attending preschools from a different state that included the same assessments in the spring of preschool and the fall of kindergarten. Although this comparison group allowed us to compare children who participated in B2K + RLPL against a group of children with normative experiences (roughly 70% of children receive some form of early childhood education; Chaudry & Datta, 2017, chap. 1), this did not allow us to estimate growth due to maturation and home factors (i.e., not influenced by prior preschool education). However, the broader context for the intervention is that preschool itself is likely to accelerate growth and work to prepare children for formal schooling, suggesting that our comparison group of children is also a different type of active control group.

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