Early Learning

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Guided play and mindfulness training can enhance executive function in early childhood, preparing children for the K-12 system.

Research on the developing brain has shown that children’s executive function (EF) skills provide a key foundation for learning and predict school readiness, academic achievement, and other important developmental outcomes.  This research has also revealed ways in which the development of EF can be enhanced.

Through our early education initiative, we are pursuing projects designed to create an integrative EF framework that brings together the science of EF skills, play-based ways of improving these skills, and a civic science perspective. Our goal is to create the political will and community agency to address the persistent poverty-related achievement gap in American schools and make enhanced early learning a reality.

To address the lack of system-wide coordination among the many organizations involved in early learning, we are working to create a boundary organization that adopts the integrative EF framework. This organization will coordinate and bring to scale advances in policy, teacher training, and preschool curricula, and empower teachers, parents, and community members to innovate.

To further foster this culture of agency, we are working to create Learning Labs that will enable scientists, teachers, and parents to prototype ideas and bring them quickly to scale. The goal is to create two-way relationships between citizen scientists and lay citizens, and empower communities to transform themselves to promote healthy brain development and erase the achievement gap.

Below are links to several on-going projects for illustration:

www.getreadyiowa.org
www.playingislearning.org