In recent years, a child’s “Executive Functioning” skills have been discussed as a possible reason for a child not doing well in school. “Executive Function” refers to a group of cognitive process that enables a person to set goals, plan, control behavior, complete tasks and achieve goals. In schools, students who struggle with a number of those skills are often thought to be “not ready” for school. Yes, they are sometimes considered to be “young behaviors”, but they are not ALWAYS. All kids’ experiences are different and that makes them the unique individuals they are.
However, knowing some “Executive Function” skills below will help parents and teachers work on those skills at home and in school. It gives us all an understanding of our own thinking and a realization that we are all a work in progress.
8 Executive Functioning Skills
- Flexible thinking – the ability to quickly switch focus and adjust to a new task or situation. Ex. Can your child (most of the time) transition easily to do something else?
- Emotional Control – the ability to moderate emotions through rational thinking. Ex. Can your child (most of the time) control their emotions?
- Working memory – the ability to hold information in memory while completing a task. Ex. Can your child remember something, or they forget because they are distracted?
- Impulse control – the ability to stop or change behavior that is not appropriate. Ex. Do they think before they act?
- Planning and organizing – the ability to plan for and organize current and future task demands. Ex: Does your child appear not be able to plan to do things?
- Organization – the ability to create and manage system for organizing materials and spaces. Does your child appear to be “scattered” most of the time?
- Self-monitoring – the inability to monitor one’s behavior. Ex. Does your child have difficulty following the established routine in class?
- Task initiation – the ability to start and follow through on a plan. Ex. Does your child have difficulty solving problems for themselves?
After reading the list, you may be thinking that you, or someone you know, struggle in some of those areas. You are 100% correct. We all, at one time or another, have difficulty with one or more of these skills. There are days that I know that I am just not having a good day. Perhaps, what I am really having is a day that I am not Executive Functioning well!
Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.