Team McCallum

R&D for Lifetime of Life

Kids & Tools of the Mind

Professors Claire Valloton and Catherine Ayoub have been studying kids aged 14 months to 3 years old to see how words fit into their ability to self-regulate.  This is important as lower self-regulation is linked to poorer results at school, with an impact that may be larger than IQ or socio-economic status.

They conducted detailed assessments at age 14 months, 2 years and 3 years. (Studies above this age already exist).

14 months is when the ability to self-regulate (to express feelings and emotions rather than acting them out, and to understand and act according to societal norms) starts to develop. Kids with low self-regulation have difficulty in focussing on a task, are more disruptive and are less likely to allow others to take turns.

A key finding was that boys and girls develop quite differently, with girls going steadily up from 14 months to 3 years, while boys actually dropped from 14 months to the 2 year mid-point.

While talkativeness had a minor connection to self-regulation, the major predictor was range of vocabulary – a larger number of different words in use, thus different ways of expressing the same thing.

The professors found that current vocabulary and past vocabulary taken together were predictors of self-regulation, so an early start is better.

They were also able to show that it is specifically this richer ability to express yourself that mattered, rather than general cognitive capability.

Finally, boys with a richer vocabulary would recover to reach the same level as high scoring girls.

A theory of the psychologist Lev Vygotsky is that an extended vocabulary gives more ability to use inner speech to control thoughts and behaviour. Tools of the Mind is based on this approach and attempts to accelerate kids’ success pre-school an in the earliest school days.


September 22, 2010 - Posted by | Brain, Catherine Ayoub, Claire Valloton, Gender, Learning, Lev Vygotsky, Success, Tools of the Mind

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