March 27, 2018
Written by RTI International
This article was originally posted on the RTI International website.
Is this hot topic all it’s cracked up to be?
Executive function skills are gaining interest and popularity in early childhood development (ECD) circles around the world. Academic research on executive function and early childhood development is on the rise: the annual output of research papers that included both “executive function” and “early childhood” as keywords more than doubled from 2013 to 2017.
Although most research on executive function skills in early childhood has occurred in high-income countries (HIC), ECD assessments in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) are increasingly including items that measure executive function skills. For example, the Measuring Early Learning, Quality and Outcomes assessment, and the International Development and Early Learning Assessment both include executive functions and have been implemented in many LMIC. In general, there is a growing recognition that an array of risk factors facing children in LMIC contexts—including malnutrition, inflammation, and infection—have direct effects on children’s neurodevelopmental outcomes, including executive function skills (Suchdev et al., 2017). This has spurred greater interest in measuring these skills in young children in LMIC.