Supporting Executive Function Development through Parent-Child Book Reading
Executive functioning (EF) is a key element of school readiness. Despite evidence for the influential role parents can play in supporting child EF development, current EF-directed interventions rarely focus on parents. And although shared book reading is a particularly promising context within which parents might support child EF, it too has rarely been studied. In order to address these limitations, this study explores the extent to which parents can support child EF through adopting novel book-reading tips aimed at supporting self-regulation, delayed gratification, and rule following. We recruited 46 parents of two- to five-year-old children and assigned them to either learn EF or more general dialogic reading tips (i.e., active control). We observed parent-child book reading pre-intervention, and at two subsequent time points, each two- to four-weeks apart, and measured child EF at the final study session. As hypothesized, we observed that parents adopted the EF tips, and that their tip use was generally sustained over time, although effects varied by tip type. Unexpectedly, children in the EF condition performed no differently than those in the active control group on EF tasks. Implications for early EF intervention are discussed.