Working Memory Profiles and Their Impact on Early Literacy and Numeracy Skills in Kindergarten Children

Marina Shvartsman, Shelley Shaul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The working memory (WM) system is recognized as a crucial cognitive function that underpins the acquisition of new knowledge and the development of foundational skills during childhood. Children’s early literacy and numeracy skills lay the foundation for future academic success in reading and mathematics. While previous research has established a link between WM and early literacy as well as numeracy, the specific contributions of different WM components to the development of various skills in kindergarten-aged children remain unclear. Objective: This study aimed to investigate the associations between distinct profiles of WM and academic achievements in early literacy and numeracy among kindergarten children. Method: A battery of memory tests (simple WM and complex WM) were administered to a cohort of 250 kindergarten children aged between five and seven years. Additionally, a range of tasks assessing mathematical and language skills were administered. Results: Our findings align with our initial hypotheses, revealing differences between profiles of simple WM and complex WM in relation to early mathematics and language skills. Generally, children who exhibited higher WM abilities outperformed their peers who had lower WM capabilities. Conclusion: This study emphasizes the critical role of WM in early childhood education. Children with limited WM function are at a heightened risk of academic underachievement. Furthermore, both components of WM—simple WM and complex WM—emerge as influential factors in shaping children's proficiency in early literacy and numeracy skills.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • Early literacy
  • Early numeracy
  • Working memory

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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