The role of executive function and social‐emotional skills in the development of literacy and numeracy during preschool: a cross‐lagged longitudinal study

Developmental Science

Authors Wolf and McCoy use a large sample (n - 3,862) of young children in Ghana to better understand the relationship with social-emotional learning, executive function and academic skills. Data was collected at three points over two years, using IDELA. The article includes a section detailing why IDELA was chosen, the strengths of the tool, and some slight adaptations made for the Ghanaian context. 

Author: Sharon Wolf, Dana Charles McCoy
Country: Ghana


The majority of evidence on the interplay between academic and non‐academic skills comes from high‐income countries. The aim of this study was to examine the bidirectional associations between Ghanaian children’s executive function, social‐emotional, literacy, and numeracy skills longitudinally. Children (N = 3,862; M age = 5.2 years at time 1) were assessed using direct assessment at three time points over the course of two school years. Controlling for earlier levels of the same skill, early executive function predicted higher subsequent literacy and numeracy skills, and early literacy and numeracy skills predicted higher subsequent executive function, indicating that the development of executive function and academic skills is inter‐related and complementary over time. Early literacy and numeracy predicted subsequent social‐emotional skills, but early social‐emotional skills did not predict subsequent literacy and numeracy skills. The findings provide longitudinal evidence on children’s learning and development in West Africa and contribute to a global understanding of the relations between various developmental skills over time.