Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.
Preschool childhood is a time of rapid development. During this period a child`s interaction with significant adults plays a very important role. The parent, as a mediator, defines the “zone of proximal development” (Vygotsky, 1984). The common assumption is that to determine a parent’s position, it is important to acknowledge both socio-demographic factors and the parameters which define the socio-psychological aspects of parent-child relationship. Hence, the type of research where a child’s psychological development is studied in the context of the socio-demographic and socio-psychological factors which determine the social situation of development, is very promising.
Based on our previous research (Sobkin, Marich, 2002; Cheie, Veraksa, 2015), a program of experimental research intended to determine the interconnections between the socio-demographic and socio-psychological parameters of parent-child relationships, and the level of a child’s psychic development, was designed. The research was based upon the material obtained through testing 59 children between 5 and 7 years old with specially collected psychological testing methods (Veraksa A.N. etc), as well as from the results of a special sociological questionnaire presented to their mothers (Sobkin V.S. etc). The research was carried out in 2014-2015 in municipal kindergartens of Moscow.
Among the socio-demographic factors analyzed, the most significant results were related to the child’s gender, the family structure, and the mother’s education. Thus, boys showed higher results on visual memory tests, and girls scored better on tests for self-control and social intelligence (higher ability to detect the reason for someone else’s negative emotions). Children from single-parent families had better results on verbal memory tests, but scored lower on those for self-control. Also they had less ability for decentration. The differences in mothers’ educational levels influenced the number and intensity of children’s fears, as well as their inclinations to avoid fearsome situations.
The analysis of features of the parenting position (such as attitude toward one’s future, positive/negative emotional state during the interaction with the child, authoritative/ democratic approach to upbringing) revealed two different strategies which children used to perform executive tasks.
Thus, the present research showed a significant degree of essential connections between socio-demographic factors and parent-child relationships to the specifics of a child’s mental development.
Keywords: child development, preschool age, social situation of development, parentchild relationships, executive functions, social intelligence
Background. According to numerous studies, people’s development of executive function is a predictor of their successful acquisition of literacy skills. However, the data on the relationship between the development of verbal language and executive function in preschool aged children are insufficient and contradictory.
Objective. The goal of our research was to study the connection between the three main EF components (working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility) and various spoken language skills in children of senior preschool age. It is the first stage of a longitudinal study aimed at understanding the relationship between executive function and language development starting from ages 5–6, and proceeding through elementary school.
Design. Our study sample included 279 children aged 5–6 years (M = 5.6 years) attending a senior group in Moscow kindergartens (139 boys and 140 girls). e study used NEPSY-II diagnostic complex subtests and the Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS) test to measure the level of executive functions (working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibition). Language development (vocabulary, phonemic awareness, and word generation) was measured by neuropsychological methods (Akhutina, Pylaeva, 2015).
Results. The results of the study showed significant associations between all EF components and language skills development in preschool children. Oral language skills were more closely related to the level of development of verbal working memory and cognitive flexibility than they were to inhibition or visual working memory. Children with low levels of EF development were significantly less able to cope with tasks such as understanding prepositional structures, understanding similar sounding words, and showing verbal fluency, than children with a high EF level. Furthermore, children with normal and high levels of EF development displayed no significant differences in language development. Thus, the study showed that children with a low level of EF have difficulties with language development.
Conclusion. Our results provide important details about understanding the relationship between executive functioning and language development in children of senior preschool age.
Keywords: preschool age, executive function (EF), language, vocabulary, phonemic awareness, word generation