The Language, Culture, Music, Self-Regulation, and School Readiness research lab (otherwise known as “Winslab”) refers to a great group of undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students working together on a variety of externally-, internally-, and non-funded research projects under the mentorship of Adam Winsler. Although individually quite diverse, each of the projects conducted within the lab is typically linked by a common desire to understand some aspect of early childhood education and children’s transition to school, or the role that language, culture, or music plays in the development of self-regulation in young children.
SELF-REGULATION - One key developmental outcome of the early childhood years is self-regulation - children's ability to plan, guide, and monitor their attention and behavior during challenging goal-directed activities. Inhibiting impulses, delaying gratification, and sustaining attention are all examples of children's behavioral self-control or self-regulation. Planning and flexibly changing one's problem-solving strategy in accordance with feedback from the environment are also components of self-regulation and are sometimes called "executive functioning." Self-regulation is essential for children's transition to, and performance in, school.
PRIVATE SPEECH - Children's "self"-regulation emerges, in part, from their history of "other"-regulation – that is, how effectively parents and others have regulated children's behavior through parental speech. Children internalize such language over time and use private speech (overt self-talk) as a key tool for regulating their own behavior and attention.
MUSIC – Music is another cultural symbol system, like language, that can be used to regulate behavior. Early childhood music and movement/dance programs that give children much practice modulating their motor behavior through music (up-down, high-low, fast-slow, staccato-legato, loud-soft) may be helping them develop key self-regulatory skills.
AUTISM and ADHD – Difficulties with self-regulation and executive functioning are core features of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). The extent to which children with ADHD or ASD talk to themselves to regulate their own behavior is, therefore, of particular interest, along with how parent-child interactions might facilitate or constrain children’s effective use of private speech for self-regulation.
POVERTY, EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION, AND THE TRANSITION TO SCHOOL – WinsLab is co-home (along with Florida International University) for the Miami School Readiness Project, a large-scale, 5-cohort, long-term, longitudinal study involving approximately 46,000 children, in which essentially the entire consenting population of children in poverty receiving subsidies to attend childcare in the community (center-based care, family daycare, informal care) at age four, as well as children attending public school pre-k programs, and children with special needs attending public school pre-k programs for children with disabilities during the years 2002-2006 are being followed as they progress through public elementary school. This exciting university-community partnership, and applied research and program evaluation project, involving the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Miami-Dade County Child Development Services, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, The Children’s Trust, and Wesley House Family Services of Monroe County, allows us to answer important questions about the influence of children’s child care experiences on low-income, ethnically and linguistically diverse children’s school readiness, as well as child, family, childcare, and elementary school predictors of children’s early school trajectories.