Executive function refers to the ability to control our attention, remember instructions, manage emotional reactions and behaviours and organise our thinking. Self-regulation is when learners use these skills to control their behaviour. For young children, executive function and self-regulation are essential for a range of tasks, including engaging in purposeful play, sustaining attention, persisting with challenging tasks and taking turns.
Early Years Learning Framework
The research supports a number of evidence-based practices for supporting executive function and self-regulation in early childhood care and education.
Tried and Tested practice guide
Annotated reference list
Using the practice
Evidence-based practices play an important part in extending children’s learning and development of executive function and self-regulation. See below for some strategies to embed early executive function and self-regulation in your early childhood and care setting.
Using the practice: executive function and self-regulation
Snapshots of practice
Executive function and self-regulation may look different in different contexts. See below some examples in early childhood settings.