Promoting EF With Preschool Interventions: Lessons Learned From 15 Years of Conducting Large-Scale Studies

Shira Mattera, Natalia M. Rojas, Pamela A. Morris, Karen Bierman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In the past two decades, a growing number of early childhood interventions that aim to improve school readiness have also targeted children's executive function (EF), building on the theory that promoting EF skills in preschool may play a key role in reducing the substantial gaps in school readiness and later achievement associated with family income. Despite the expansion of school readiness interventions across preschool, research evidence is mixed regarding what works to promote EF development and the impact of these interventions on children's EF skills, and subsequently, their academic and behavioral outcomes. This paper reviews four intervention approaches designed to support school readiness that may also improve children's EF skills by: (a) encouraging adaptive classroom behaviors, (b) improving social-emotional learning, (c) promoting play and direct training of EF skills, and (d) improving cognitive skills related to EF. We describe program effects from rigorous trials testing these approaches, including summarizing the takeaways from four large-scale intervention research studies conducted by the authors, involving over 5,000 children. We conclude by exploring open questions for the field and future directions for research and intervention program development and refinement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number640702
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - Jun 24 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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