What Is Executive Function? And How Does It Relate to Child Development?

The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University developed a useful graphic for defining executive function and explaining its relationship to child development. The graphic is accompanied by additional information on executive function, including corrections to popular beliefs about children who have executive functioning challenges. Readers are also directed to other resources about executive function on the Center for the Developing Child website.

How does this apply to your work in Early Start? Executive functioning begins with the development of self-regulation, attention, and working memory in infancy. By supporting these early cognitive skills, parents and early intervention service providers are laying the groundwork for more sophisticated executive function skills that will emerge later on.

View the graphic and additional information here: https://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/what-is-executive-function-and-how-does-it-relate-to-child-development/

The ICC-Recommended Early Start Personnel Manual (ESPM) describes core knowledge and role-specific competencies needed for early intervention service provision, incorporating current research and evidence in the field of early intervention. To access the ESPM, click here.

This resource is related to the following ESPM knowledge-level competencies:

  • Core Knowledge (CK):
    • CK2: The role of primary social and emotional relationships as the foundation for early learning.
    • CK4: The range of typical infant/toddler physiological factors such as:
      • Early neurological/brain development
      • Basic health and nutrition
      • Physical growth and maturation
    • CK6: The sequences of development and the interrelationships among developmental areas/factors.
    • CK8: The etiology, diagnosis and characteristics of disabilities and risk factors.
    • CK9: The characteristics and influence of disabilities and risk factors on early development, learning, care giving and relationships.
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