Australia’s national education evidence body

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Support children to understand and control their emotions and behaviours

Early Years Learning Framework | All outcomes

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. Executive function and self-regulation are important foundations for success in life and learning. These capabilities develop particularly rapidly in toddlers but continue to develop throughout childhood and into adulthood.

Executive function and self-regulation contribute to all five outcomes in the Early Years Learning Framework by enabling children to engage in learning, develop strong relationships with others and make choices that enhance their wellbeing.

Evidence-based practices for supporting executive function and self-regulation in early childhood care and education settings are listed below. Note that some examples may not apply in all contexts and/or may be more suitable for particular learners or age groups.

Key practices

Further reading

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