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ECE Resources

Executive function and supporting positive behavior

Professor Megan McClelland and Dr Shauna Tominey discuss the importance of executive function skills, how these skills develop in young children and how ECE teachers can support their development.

To help you navigate the webinar easily, there is a list of the key topics covered in the session below, including the time each was discussed. The key ideas discussed in this webinar are also shared in a short insight article.

Topics discussed in this webinar 

Times shown in minutes and seconds from the start of the video

1.22 What is executive function?
4.19Cognitive flexibility and what it looks like in children aged 0-5
6.05 Working memory and how children use it
9.17Inhibitory control and how it contributes to positive behaviours
11.23 The impact of a lack of executive function on children’s learning
13.22 The research connecting strong executive function and later success in life
15.41How executive function connects to social emotional wellbeing
20.10Strategies for developing children’s executive function skills
26.11Co-regulation and setting up the learning environment to promote executive function
30.00Explicitly teaching executive function skills
31.38Modelling executive function skills
32.56Using songs, rhymes and games to support executive function
34.55Embedding routines that build executive function throughout the day
37.27A popular game for supporting executive function
41.20Concluding thoughts

Questions for exploring the key ideas from this webinar

  • How can we be more explicit about developing children’s executive function skills?
  • How can we model our own executive function skills to support children to build theirs?
  • What can we do to support children whose executive functions skills appear to be under-developed?
  • How can we embed activities and routines for promoting executive function throughout the day?

Recommended further reading

Harvard University’s Centre of the Developing Child has an excellent set of executive function resources on their website.

Oregon University’s programme for developing self-regulation called Red Light, Purple Light includes some useful games and songs for building executive function skills.

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