Dr Ng Ee Lynn Participates in Invited Keynote Symposium and Poster Presentation

Dr Ng Ee Lynn Participates in Invited Keynote Symposium and Poster Presentation

Friday, 19 October 2018

Dr Ng Ee Lynn

Dr Ng Ee Lynn, Research Scientist at the Office of Education Research (OER), participated in an invited Keynote Symposium at the 2nd Henry David Hochstadt Early Childhood Symposium. This symposium was co-organized by NIE’s Early Childhood and Special Education Academic Group and the Association for Early Childhood Educators Singapore on 25 August 2018. Her presentation was entitled “Transitioning from preschool to primary school: A comparison of children in “shared” vs. “non-shared” environments”. In her talk, she discussed transitioning from preschool to primary school as it brings a unique set of challenges to children. 

One of the main challenges is learning to adapt to a formal and structured learning environment; and to a new physical setting and new routines. Drawing on data from the Singapore Kindergarten Impact Project, the research team found that transitioning to primary school within a shared environment carries some benefits for children’s developmental outcomes at Primary 1. However, more research is needed to better understand how transitions should be managed to ensure that it is a supportive and stress-free experience for children. It was recommended that future research must look into a collaborative effort involving the perspective of various stakeholders (e.g., children, parents, teachers, and school leaders).

In addition, Dr Ng participated at the 25th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development from 15 to 19 July 2018 at Gold Coast, Australia. She made a poster presentation titled “Multiple pathways to acquiring early math skills: At-risk children benefit from better self-regulation and learning-related social skills“ that discussed the two facets of self-regulation – executive function (EF) and effortful control (EC) which contribute to children’s academic achievement.

As it has been studied that exposure to poverty is linked to delays in EF and EC development, a question of concern is the extent to which EF and EC predict growth in academic skills for children from low- vs. high-income families. Because few studies have explored the roles of EF and EC concurrently, Dr Ng and her research team addressed this gap by examining, in particular, the growth in math knowledge from the first (K1) to the second year of kindergarten (K2). They also examined whether learning-related behaviors (e.g., concentration, persistence) mediate the links from EF and EC to math knowledge.

Drawing on data from the Singapore Kindergarten Impact Project, the team found that self-regulation contributes to math knowledge via different pathways for children from low- vs. high-income families. Children from low-income families with better EF and EC, as well as better learning-related behaviors, attained higher math knowledge at K2. In contrast, children from high-income families benefit mainly from better EF skills. In relation to the ongoing debate on optimal strategies for improving disadvantaged children’s math outcomes, a multi-pronged strategy targeting their self-regulation skills and learning-related behaviors may be a promising approach.