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Improvement of working memory in preschoolers and its impact on early literacy skills: A study in deprived communities of rural and urban areas

The present study evaluated the impact of a working memory (WM) stimulation program on the development of WM and early literacy skills (ELS) in preschoolers from socioeconomically deprived rural and urban schools in Chile. The sample consisted of 268 children, 144 in the intervention group and 124 in the comparison group. The computer-based intervention comprised 16 sessions of 30 min each. Children in the intervention group demonstrated significantly more progress in WM than those in the comparison group when we evaluated them 3 months after exposure to the program and controlled for initial differences with an analysis of covariance. ELS were significantly stronger in children who were exposed to the stimulation program, which supports a link between WM and ELS. Practice or Policy: Results suggest that children's WM can be improved from an early age regardless of socioeconomic context or geographic location (rural or urban). This has direct implications for early education and may compensate for some of the difficulties that children experience when starting school. (author abstract)
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