“Simon Says” teaches self-control

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An old classroom game designed to raise alertness is enjoying new popularity among educators as a way to foster and measure self control in children.

Professor Megan McClelland of Oregon State University, an expert on self-regulation in children, has been using a Simon Says-type game with young children to show that the Head-Toes-Knee-Shoulder task can improve their ability to listen, pay attention, follow through on a task and remember instructions -- things which predict academic achievement.

McClelland collaborated in a recent study of 800 pre-schoolers (ages 3-6) in the United States, Taiwan, China and South Korea.  The aim was to find out if the Simon Says task would predict academic gains in countries already known to have stronger self-regulation than in the US. It did.

"Beyond demographic variables or teacher's expectations, we found that the children in all the countries who performed well on the task did significantly better in math, vocabulary and early literacy," McClelland said. "It shows that beyond cultural factors, self-regulation is important for early academic success."

The researchers have had similar results in Europe. And in Oregon, especially among children from “lower-income” homes.

Professor McClelland, who has a $1.6 million grant from the US Department of Education for this research, says there is “intense interest” among educators in an easy to use method for assessing self-regulation among children entering elementary school.

Perhaps because there are more children who don’t learn self-control at home these days than in the past.


MORE ON THESE TOPICS | education of children, self-control

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Family Edge looks at news and trends affecting the family in the light of human dignity. Our focus is the inspiring, creative, humorous, annoying, ridiculous, and dangerous ideas in the evening news. Send tips and brainwaves to the editor, Tamara Rajakariar, at tamara.rajakariar@ mercatornet.com

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