Focus, Not IQ, Might be Best School Skill

Kids trained to flex 'executive function' muscles learn better
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2008 3:43 PM CDT
Children who play out hypothetical scenarios in preschool later perform better on tests of their ability to focus and cut out distractions.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – EF is the new IQ, and if educators accept that new acronym mantra, more preschoolers will be playing games, Newsweek reports. Executive function—the ability to repress distracting thoughts and focus on a task—could be a better indicator of scholarly success than intelligence alone; psychologist Adele Diamond implemented an EF approach in New England preschools, and the results were striking.

The children who were encouraged to talk to themselves about tricky problems and play other learning games all scored better on tests of cognitive focus. The results were so impressive after the first year that many of the classrooms using traditional methods dropped out of the study to join in the movement that integrates dramatic role-playing games into reading and math.