New School-Age Curriculum helps children learn focus and self-control

MARLBORO, NJ - SEPTEMBER 24: Teacher Anne Leonardi winner of $10,000 As A Knowledge Universe Early Childhood Educator Award Winner on September 24, 2015 in Marlboro, New Jersey. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Anne Leonardi

Executive function skills help us focus our attention, filter distractions, control our emotions, remember details, and switch mental gears.

Our new School-Age Curriculum is full of fun academic activities to excite children about learning. The new curriculum focuses on six content areas that are critical for children’s future success: Character Development, Community, Creative Expression, Executive Function, Inquiry-Based Learning, and Literacy.

Remember the game “Red Light, Green Light” from your childhood? At the time, it was a fun way to spend a cool summer evening with your friends. But what you probably didn’t realize is that while playing and having fun, you were also working on your executive function skills.

Executive function is a fancy term for skills that help us focus our attention, filter distractions, control our emotions, remember details, and switch mental gears. Throughout the year, school-age children at all KinderCare Education centers and sites participate in activities and games that help them fine-tune these skills.

“Board games, physical activities and games are great ways to help school-agers practice executive function skills, critical skills that play a big role in a child’s success at school and in later life,” said Meg Davis, Manager of Curriculum and Content Development.

Working with an in-house team of curriculum developers, Davis guided the creation of the new school-age program that will launch this fall in KinderCare centers, CCLC centers, and Champions sites nationwide.

Activities in the program aren’t just geared toward one specific area, though, Davis said. Each activity incorporates skills from at least two or three other content areas or areas of development. For example, games such as “Red Light, Green Light” also incorporate physical movement and character development (fairness, initiative, and social skills) in addition to executive function skills.

KinderCare Education is one of few early childhood education providers focusing on teaching these critical foundational skills, Davis said. Research has shown that executive function skills are a better predictor of school readiness than IQ scores or abilities in math or reading.

“We realized a while ago that executive function skills were starting to receive a lot of attention, said Davis. “Focusing on and helping children develop these skills was important work, and could really set us apart from our competitors.”

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