Literacy PK-3

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Cognitive Flexibility

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How Cognitive Flexibility connects to...

Cognitive Flexibility, a component of executive functioning, is the ability to think about multiple concepts, either at the same time or switching between them. Cognitive Flexibility can, for example, help readers make inferences, by incorporating new information as they are reading with their Background Knowledge. Cognitive Flexibility develops through childhood and has been shown to support both simple word reading as well as more complex sentence and passage comprehension.

Main Ideas

Cognitive Flexibility can also be called attention shifting or task switching, which involves adaptively shifting away from one idea or component of a task and responding or attending to something new. We use Cognitive Flexibility to effectively adapt our behavior as we face changing environment and task demands. In school, students must consider and switch between different rules and strategies to complete learning tasks.

Cognitive Flexibility may help students simultaneously process the sounds and understand the meaning of each word when reading, as well allow students to flexibly use different reading strategies, such as re-reading or skimming, based on the goals of the task.

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