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Colorful Play Dough
 Learning, Emotion, and Play in Schools 

The Learning, Emotion, and Play in Schools (LEAPS) project focuses on exploration of the behavioral and physiological correlates of both executive functioning and emotion regulation (two forms of self-regulation that are critical for academic success) as they differentially influence functioning in preschool. This study allows for an examination of the interplay between children’s early regulatory abilities and their interactions with parents and teachers, as well as linkages to children’s successful self-regulation and performance in the pre-K classroom.

Previous Work from the Learning, Emotion, and Play in Schools (LEAPS) Project

The primary goal of this study is to bridge the gap between existing literature on self-regulation from emotion and cognitive perspectives. Successful self-regulation in the classroom has been consistently associated with better academic achievement and school performance and thus it is essential that we understand its development. Indeed, we draw upon these two independent but related literatures in order to identify predictors of successful self-regulation in the early classroom context that lead to improved learning. 


Research questions posed in this line of work have aimed to explore children’s regulation in the Pre-K classroom

as a function of the interplay between 1) children’s physiological and behavioral self-regulatory capacities related to emotional and cognitive functioning in toddlerhood, 2) parenting behaviors in the home, and 3) teacher behaviors in the classroom. Through our work, we have built on existing studies of self-regulation to better understand the relationship between the underlying physiological processes (vagal regulation) of cognitive and emotional regulation. Furthermore, this is the first study of which we are aware in which both behavioral and physiological (i.e., vagal tone) measures of regulation are collected within the classroom context in order to address these questions. The final goal of this study is to assess the association between self-regulation in the classroom and academic outcomes at the end of the school year.   

Learning, Emotion, and Play in Schools (LEAPS) Today
Drawing Time
Image by Erika Fletcher
Preschool Class

LEAPS is an ongoing collection of studies examining the relation between children’s behavioral and physiological regulation of emotion and cognition and aspects of the home and school environments as they serve children’s performance and success in the Pre-Kindergarten classroom.

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