The role of the executive functions in school readiness among preschool-age children

Shelley Shaul, Mila Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to identify the specific contribution of executive functions to pre-academic skills (emergent literacy, phonological awareness and orthographic knowledge, and emergent mathematic knowledge) over and above cognitive and linguistic underpinning abilities such as naming, short-term memory and vocabulary. The study was designed to examine the following questions: (1) Are executive functions related to pre-academics skills in general or are they related to specific pre-academic skills? (2) Does the magnitude of the relationship between executive functions and pre-academics skills change with the progress in pre-school age? 54 children between the ages of 5 and 6 years old from 4 different kindergartens participated in the project. A wide range of pre-academic skills, cognitive, linguistic and executive functions tasks were administered. The results demonstrated that executive functions contributed significantly to both emergent literacy and emergent mathematic knowledge. In addition, the current study also suggests that the role of executive functions increases with the growth of child's pre-academic development. Finally, the strongest contribution of executive functions was found to orthographic knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-768
Number of pages20
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments. This work has been supported in part by NSF award IIS-0209208.


  • Early literacy skills
  • Early numeracy skills
  • Executive functions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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