Australia’s national education evidence body
Support children to understand and control their emotions and behaviours

Overview

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. 

Female teacher with preschool kids

Early Years Learning Framework

This topic relates to all outcomes in the Early Years Learning Framework – a guide to supporting and nurturing young children's learning from birth to 5 years of age, and their transition to school.

Research

The research supports a number of evidence-based practices for supporting executive function and self-regulation in early childhood care and education. 

 Two A4 paper sheets with the AERO executive function and self-regulation practice guide

Tried and Tested practice guide

This guide outlines key practices that support executive function and self-regulation.
 Two A4 paper sheets with a list of references from an AERO research paper

Annotated reference list

An overview of the research evidence cited throughout our executive function and self-regulation resources.

Snapshots of practice

Executive function and self-regulation may look different in different contexts. See below some examples in early childhood settings. 

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