Interventions and Approaches Targeting Early Self-Regulation or Executive Functioning in Preschools: A Systematic Review

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Educational Psychology Review


This systematic literature review sought to reconcile the evidence of efficacy for interventions and approaches to enhancing self-regulation and/or executive function in preschool settings. Following PRISMA methodology, a comprehensive search of 20 years of intervention research identified 85 studies that met inclusion criteria. Interventions were categorised by intervention approach and coded for their characteristics (e.g. sample size, dose, duration, interventionist, intervention activities), outcomes (e.g. significance, size of effects) and study quality (i.e. risk of bias). Reconciliation of intervention results indicated (1) within intervention approaches, some approaches had more consistent and robust evidence of efficacy (e.g. mindfulness, mediated play, physical activity) and (2) across intervention approaches, characteristics that had greater (or exclusive) presence amongst the higher efficacy interventions (e.g. cognitive challenge, movement, as well as interventionist, fidelity and dose considerations). Implications for future intervention (re)design, and for theorising about mechanisms of self-regulation and executive function change, are discussed.

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