Rana Dajani: Hashemite University
Alya Al Sager:Brown University
Diego Placido:Brown Univeristy
Dima Amso: Brown Univeristy
Early childhood enrichment opportunities have been shown to shape Executive Functions (EFs), which in turn play a critical role in the development of academic skills, including school readiness and future educational achievement and mobility. We partnered with We Love Reading, a Jordan-based organization designed to promote reading for pleasure among children, in order to examine the impact of the WLR read-aloud method on executive functions in children. Children completed a battery of executive functions tasks and parents filled out behavioral and demographic assessments of their children. Over a six month interval with the WLR program, we found that the number of books in the home and the number of children that considered reading as a hobby had increased. Changes in reading in the home from baseline to post-WLR also predicted larger improvements in executive functions, and particularly for younger children and for families who reported lower family income. We examined the impact of a reading for pleasure program, called We Love Reading, on change in EFs of 4-8 year-old children. The WLR read-aloud sessions seemed to influence spontaneous change in the number of books in the home and the number of children in the sample that consider reading a hobby. EFs showed expected developmental change in 4-8 year-old children in Jordan. Importantly, the change in reading attitudes and practices was related to improvement, in just six months, in executive functions development. This effect was particularly large for children from lower income homes. These data suggest that WLR read-aloud sessions impacted engagement with reading in the child’s home environment. Reading is a form of enrichment that has multiple values for cognitive development. It involves interaction with parents at a time when parents are the primary source of rule-guided information for the child. It is an enrichment opportunity that allows turn-taking, verbal interaction with caregivers, practice with object forms (the written word), opportunities for imaginative play, creative thought, and learning others’ perspective. All of these components of reading are important for supporting EFs development. EFs are a set of processes that govern context-appropriate thoughts and behaviors. They show a great deal of developmental change from three to about ten years of age and then again in adolescence . EFs seem particularly relevant for early childhood education and success, and enrichment programs that can support their development are highly sought-after and informative. Here we suggest a simple, sustainable and inexpensive opportunity to support developing EFs through reading for pleasure. The ultimate goal is to support life-long learning and academic achievement through natural and culturally-sensitive means. What is unique about WLR is that it is a local program that considers the significance of culture and context. WLR offers an innovative simple solution that has the capacity to grow globally and sustainably. Reading is one medium, however, the cause is to encourage young children to realize that they have the potential and ability to think for themselves.
Antje von Suchodoletz: New York University Abu Dhabi
Randa Mahasneh: Hashemite University
Rana Dajani: Hashemite University
The research is presented at the CIES conference in San Francisco. To date, a majority of research has focused on the cognitive domain of learning whereas the affective domain, such as values and attitudes toward learning, has largely been neglected. However, students’ values and attitudes influence how they approach and organize learning on a day-to-day basis. This study developed and tested a short self-report measure of school interest in Jordan. A regression analysis, controlling for family background variables, showed a significant association with age, confirming the hypothesis that older children report lower levels of school interest. In addition, gender was significantly associated with school interest, indicating that boys had lower levels of school interest.