The Role of Early Executive Function on School Readiness and Transition Outcomes: A Pre-K to 3 Approach

Neshat Yazdani, Fordham University


Given the rapid development of the prefrontal cortex that takes between the ages of three and five, pre-kindergarten (pre-k) may be a critical time for the development of executive function (EF) associated with this region of the brain. The promotion from pre-k to kindergarten typically marks a sudden transition from a low-structure environment to a high-structure environment. It is during this transition where EF may be a necessary prerequisite for successful functioning in a formal school environment. It is also during this time that children with underdeveloped EF may experience increased risk for academic failure and peer rejection. This study examined the predictive validity of EF in pre-K on behavioral and social school readiness in kindergarten, as indicated by self-regulation and social competence, and the relationships between kindergarten school readiness and third grade academic and social development. First grade classroom quality was examined as a moderator of academic and social outcomes. The study used data from the NICHD SECCYD, a longitudinal study of 1,364 children from birth through ninth grade. Findings indicated that pre-k EF was a robust predictor of kindergarten school readiness and that kindergarten social competence predicted third grade academic achievement. There were mixed results relating school readiness to social development. Classroom quality was not found to moderate any of the relationships between school readiness and academic or social development. Findings contribute to the existing body of literature examining the role of EF in school readiness and extend previous work by assessing the influence of school readiness on academic and social outcomes while also examining the influence of classroom quality.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Educational sociology|Educational evaluation|Psychobiology|Educational psychology|Neurosciences|Cognitive psychology|Early childhood education|Physiological psychology

Recommended Citation

Yazdani, Neshat, "The Role of Early Executive Function on School Readiness and Transition Outcomes: A Pre-K to 3 Approach" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI22592305.