How do different aspects of self-regulation predict successful adaptation to school?J Exp Child Psychol. 2012 Nov; 113(3):353-71.JE
Self-regulation plays an important role in successful adaptation to preschool and school contexts as well as in later academic achievement. The current study relates different aspects of self-regulation such as temperamental effortful control and executive functions (updating, inhibition, and shifting) to different aspects of adaptation to school such as learning-related behavior, school grades, and performance in standardized achievement tests. The relationship between executive functions/effortful control and academic achievement has been established in previous studies; however, little is known about their unique contributions to different aspects of adaptation to school and the interplay of these factors in young school children. Results of a 1-year longitudinal study (N=459) revealed that unique contributions of effortful control (parental report) to school grades were fully mediated by children's learning-related behavior. On the other hand, the unique contributions of executive functions (performance on tasks) to school grades were only partially mediated by children's learning-related behavior. Moreover, executive functions predicted performance in standardized achievement tests exclusively, with comparable predictive power for mathematical and reading/writing skills. Controlling for fluid intelligence did not change the pattern of prediction substantially, and fluid intelligence did not explain any variance above that of the two included aspects of self-regulation. Although effortful control and executive functions were not significantly related to each other, both aspects of self-regulation were shown to be important for fostering early learning and good classroom adjustment in children around transition to school.