Research Findings: Executive function begins to develop in infancy and involves an array of processes, such as attention, inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility, which provide the means by which individuals control their own behavior, work toward goals, and manage complex cognitive processes. Thus, executive function plays a critical role in the development of academic skills such as reading. This article describes the development of executive function in young children, describes the brain structures and changes associated with that development, and then reviews recent research on the critical role of executive function in early reading development and education. Practice or Policy: Because executive function and its associated brain developments parallel reading acquisition, work in executive function has profound implications for fostering the successful development of reading skills, including prereading skills, word reading, and reading comprehension. Instruction that helps children learn to manage the multiple features of spoken and printed language will help ensure that children develop the reading-specific executive functions that will enable them to manage the complexities of reading processes throughout their lives. © 2012 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
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