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Interventions Shown to Aid Executive Function Development in Children 4 to 12 Years Old by Adele Diamond and Kathleen Lee

Research Description

"To be successful takes creativity, flexibility, self-control, and discipline. Central to all those are executive functions, including mentally playing with ideas, giving a considered rather than an impulsive response, and staying focused. Diverse activities have been shown to improve children’s executive functions: computerized training, noncomputerized games, aerobics, martial arts, yoga, mindfulness, and school curricula. All successful programs involve repeated practice and progressively increase the challenge to executive functions. Children with worse executive functions benefit most from these activities; thus, early executive-function training may avert widening achievement gaps later. To improve executive functions, focusing narrowly on them may not be as effective as also addressing emotional and social development (as do curricula that improve executive functions) and physical development (shown by positive effects of aerobics, martial arts, and yoga)."

"Montessori curriculum does not mention EFs, but what Montessorians mean by “normalization” includes having good EFs. Normalization is a shift from disorder, impulsivity, and inattention to self-discipline, independence, orderliness, and peacefulness . Montessori classrooms have only one of any material, so children learn to wait until another child is finished. Several Montessori activities are essentially walking meditation."

"As in Tools, the teacher carefully observes each child (when a child is ready for a new challenge, the teacher presents one), and wholegroup activities are infrequent; learning is handson, often with ≥2 children working together. In Tools, children take turns instructing or checking one another. Cross-age tutoring occurs in Montessori mixed 3-year age groups. Such childto- child teaching has been found repeatedly to produce better (often dramatically better) outcomes than teacher-led instruction."

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