Exploring South African preschool teachers’ roles and responsibilities with executive functions

South African Journal of Childhood Education

Field Value
Title Exploring South African preschool teachers’ roles and responsibilities with executive functions
Creator Etokabeka, Elsa van Heerden, Judy du Preez, Hannelie
Subject Early Childhood Education executive function; metacognition; preschool; structured play; planned lessons; play-based pedagogy
Description Background: South African studies based on school readiness found that most children who commence formal schooling (from Grade 1) lack the basic skills needed to adapt within the learning environment – these include having challenges to follow instructions, work autonomously or focus on a task.Aim: The national guideline for teaching children between birth to 9 years does not specify how early childhood education programmes can facilitate or strengthen executive function (EF) skills through structured play. Structured play, can be understood as play activities that require guidance and instructions for completion. During the activities, the participants have to follow instructions in order to attain the outcome. Hence, there is a need to explore how EF skills can be developed through structured play. From our understanding, EF is an individual’s cognitive ability to regulate thoughts and actions needed to complete a task. Executive function skills assist learners to adjust and work effectively later (Grade 1) in a formal learning environment to perform academically.Setting: The study was conducted at preschool sites that follow different educational approaches. They are Montessori, National Curriculum Framework (NCF), Reggio Emilia and Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) preschools. The preschools are situated in affluent suburbs of Pretoria, Gauteng. In this article, learners refer to children aged 4 years in the Grade RRR class.Methods: A qualitative multiple case study design was utilised. We interacted with two teachers from four schools who followed different educational approaches. The data collection techniques included individual semi-structured interviews, lesson observation and document analysis, whilst photographs and field notes were taken when the teacher-participants interacted with learners during a planned learning experience. The generated data sets were inductively analysed and interpreted using the theoretical frameworks of sociocultural theory and metacognition.Results: The interpreted data sets revealed that the preschool teacher-participants can facilitate EF using games, songs, movement exercises or racing competitions. The participants explained that indoor, outdoor and learning experiences facilitated EF skills such as self-regulation, working memory and cognitive flexibility during structured play.Conclusion: There is a need for preschool teachers to identify EF in the curriculum and know how to link and intentionally include the skills in daily learning experiences. This will ensure learners acquire EF and apply it in formal learning environments. The contribution to the body of scholarship is the development of guidelines for teachers to intentionally and explicitly develop EF skills using structured play. We confer that teachers play a role in enabling fun, engaging and hands-on activities that promote the acquisition of EF in the early years.
Publisher AOSIS
Date 2022-10-31
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion — —
Format text/html application/epub+zip text/xml application/pdf
Identifier 10.4102/sajce.v12i1.1141
Source South African Journal of Childhood Education; Vol 12, No 1 (2022); 9 pages 2223-7682 2223-7674
Language eng
The following web links (URLs) may trigger a file download or direct you to an alternative webpage to gain access to a publication file format of the published article:

https://sajce.co.za/index.php/sajce/article/view/1141/2297 https://sajce.co.za/index.php/sajce/article/view/1141/2298 https://sajce.co.za/index.php/sajce/article/view/1141/2299 https://sajce.co.za/index.php/sajce/article/view/1141/2300
Coverage Gauteng — —
Rights Copyright (c) 2022 Elsa Etokabeka, Judy van Heerden, Hannelie du Preez https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0