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Examining the relations between executive function, math, and literacy during the transition to kindergarten: A multi-analytic approach

The present study explored the bidirectional and longitudinal associations between executive function (EF) and early academic skills (math and literacy) across 4 waves of measurement during the transition from preschool to kindergarten using 2 complementary analytical approaches: cross-lagged panel modeling and latent growth curve modeling (LCGM). Participants included 424 children (49% female). On average, children were approximately 4.5 years old at the beginning of the study ([mean] = 4.69, SD = .30) and 55% were enrolled in Head Start. Cross-lagged panel models indicated bidirectional relations between EF and math over preschool, which became directional in kindergarten with only EF predicting math. Moreover, there was a bidirectional relation between math and literacy that emerged in kindergarten. Similarly, LGCM revealed correlated growth between EF and math as well as math and literacy, but not EF and literacy. Exploring the patterns of relations across the waves of the panel model in conjunction with the patterns of relations between intercepts and slopes in the LGCMs led to a more nuanced understanding of the relations between EF and academic skills across preschool and kindergarten. Implications for future research on instruction and intervention development are discussed. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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