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Development of Preschool Children’s Executive Functions throughout a Play-Based Learning Approach That Embeds Science Concepts

Authors
  • Vidal Carulla, Clara
  • Christodoulakis, Nikolaos
  • Adbo, Karina
Type
Published Article
Journal
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publisher
MDPI AG
Publication Date
Jan 12, 2021
Volume
18
Issue
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18020588
PMID: 33445700
PMCID: PMC7828157
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Article
License
Green

Abstract

This study focuses on the development of executive functions in preschool children during a series of science activities. A longitudinal play-based learning intervention was designed and implemented following the design of an educational experiment. Data were collected through visual ethnography in hot situations with adult supervision. Results show how entwined the concepts of inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility are within young children’s development. The development of cognitive flexibility or attention shifting readily occurred when there were fictive characters (such as the king and his royal family), but changing perspective toward a nonfictive environment (i.e., taking other children’s perspectives) was a more difficult and time-consuming process. This process began in an individual perspective and expanded to acknowledging others’ perspectives, then moved toward creating common perspectives or alternative narratives. Results show that science activities can be a bridge for preschool children to transfer their use of executive functions, from fairytales and games toward everyday tasks.

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