Developing and validating a parent-focused intervention to enhance the executive function skills of young Chinese children from low-income families = 發展及檢證一項以家長為中心的介入方式籍以增強華人低收入家庭幼童的執行功能技巧

Project title
Developing and validating a parent-focused intervention to enhance the executive function skills of young Chinese children from low-income families = 發展及檢證一項以家長為中心的介入方式籍以增強華人低收入家庭幼童的執行功能技巧
Principal Investigator
Grant Awarding Body
Research Grants Council
Grant Type
Faculty Development Scheme
Project Code
Amount awarded
Funding Year
Duration of the Project
36 months
Executive functioning (EF) refers to a broad set of cognitive processes that enable individuals to regulate and organise their thoughts or actions to meet adaptive goals (Diamond & Lee, 2011). EF skills grow rapidly in the preschool years and play a vital role in early childhood neurocognitive development and early school success (Masten et al.; 2012; Zelazo, Carlson, & Kesek, 2008). Previous studies conducted in Western societies have found a socioeconomic disparity in children’s EF performance (Fitzpatrick et al., 2014; Rochette & Bernier, 2014). Recently, the preliminary results of our previous FDS-funded research project showed a socioeconomic disparity in two core EF skills - working memory, cognitive flexibility, and overall EF among young Chinese children in Hong Kong (Chan et. al., 2016). To reduce this socioeconomic gap in EF development, this proposed research aims to develop a parent-based EF-focused intervention to build supportive parenting that enhances the EF skills of young Chinese children from low-income families in Hong Kong as well as to investigate the effectiveness and the fidelity of implementation of this parent-based EF-focused intervention.

Although a few school-based EF-focused curricula have been shown to improve the EF skills of low-income and disadvantaged children in Western countries, it may not be feasible for local kindergartens serving economically disadvantaged children to embed these schoolwide EF-focused interventions into their existing curricula. Also, these school-based interventions may not be culturally tailored to the psychoeducational needs of children from low-income families in Hong Kong. Another concern is that the effect of these school-based interventions may not have lasting impact without positive influences from the home environment to reinforce the EF skills. Recent research has shown that supportive parenting is positively associated with children’s EF development at home (Blair & Raver, 2012; Herbers et al., 2014; Lengua et al., 2013). However, Chinese parents from low-income families have lower scores on supportive parenting practices (Chan et al., 2016). Thus, it is important to develop an intensive and tailored parent-based EF-focused intervention programme to educate and to empower Chinese parents from low-income families in applying supportive parenting practices at their home-setting that can enhance the EF development of their young children.

There will be two key components of this parent-focused intervention: 1) four 2-hour weekly parent educational sessions about children’s EF development and supportive parenting practices along with the teaching of tangible EF-specific daily activities for parents to practice at home and 2) three 20-minute monthly individual parent review sessions to discuss their daily EF-boosting practice, to address their concerns, and to further build their efficacy and competence in supportive parenting. The proposed study will have four phases: The first phase (12 months) will focus on designing and developing a parent-based EF-focused intervention for parents and young children from low-income families. In the second phase (8 months), a small-scale pilot randomised wait-list control study to try out the procedures and materials of implementing this intervention will be conducted. For this pilot study, 40 Chinese parents and their children aged 4 to 6 years from two local kindergartens will be recruited. In the third phase (12 months), about 128 mother-child dyads will be recruited from eight local kindergartens and randomly assigned to either the experimental group or the wait-list control group. Self-report measure and two 15-minute observation of child-play interaction will be used to evaluate supporting parenting practice. In addition, a battery of EF measures administered to children will be collected at the beginning, the 4th month, and the 8th month for both groups. Semi-structured interviews with parents and child will also be conducted after the 4-month intervention to understand their feedback to the programme. The final phase (4 months) will focus on investigating the effectiveness and fidelity of this newly developed parent-based EF-focused intervention using both quantitative and qualitative data analyses.

(All Publications)

Results 1-1 of 1

Issue DateTitleAuthor(s)Type
12019建立孩子未來的鑰匙: 培育幼童的執行功能技巧實用手冊陳自強博士 ; 龔文尉 ; 盧芷晴 Research Report