By: Olivia Brown, M.A., CCC-SLP
The following are games and activities to improve executive functioning at home. These are just some of the many available games/activities, which are great for all ages, but age suggestions are also provided. Have fun with this while also working to improve your child’s attention and organizational skills.
Playing board games is a fun way to get your child and other friends/family engaged and learning in a playful way. They typically involve 3+ players which also provided for socialization and communication opportunities.
- Ideas for toddlers: The Sneaky Snacks Squirrel Game and memory. At this age, your child may benefit more from play-based games (i.e. kitchen set, blocks, etc).
- Ideas for elementary to middle school: Candy Land, Apples to Apples, Trouble, Mouse Trap, Sorry, and Pop the Pig.
- Ideas for middle school and up: Sequence, Clue, and Guess Who.
Card games are a fantastic low-tech option to improve your child’s ability to follow rules/directions and help with impulse control.
- Ideas for toddlers: Flash cards or UNO cards (they are great to use for matching colors and/or numbers).
- Ideas for elementary to middle school: go fish, UNO, and slapjack.
- Ideas for middle school and up: Monopoly deal, solitaire, exploding kittens and of course UNO.
Word games can have materials and set rules or they can have no materials and be made-up! If there are items to be read, you can read them to your child, with your child, or have them read alone based on your child’s reading level.
- Ideas for toddlers: hand/tickle games (i.e. peek-a-boo), small (3-10 piece) board puzzles, or I spy.
- Ideas for elementary to middle school: Scrabble Junior, Bingo and the alphabet game (each person playing must take turns thinking of something that starts with each letter of the alphabet.
- Ideas for middle school and up: Sequence, Scrabble, and Bananagrams.
Going on a walk is great in many ways. You can talk about the things you see and the order in which you saw them, make predictions about what might happen next (or before), and plan for future outdoor adventures.
- Scavenger hunt: outdoor scavenger hunts are great for expanding vocabulary and attention as your child focuses on locating items found in nature (i.e. acorns, flowers, leaves, etc.). If you need some fun ideas, our outdoor scavenger hunt printout is a great resource!
- Plan a picnic: Planning an event is a great way to practice executive functioning skills and is rewarding when the child gets to execute their plan. Depending on the age, it is helpful to have suggestions for places or items to bring.
Cooking is a great activity for many reasons, but especially for executive functioning. You must use many executive function skills to plan, execute, and complete any recipe (no matter how simple or complex).
- Start with something simple such as trail mix or banana sushi, and build to more complex recipes. It is helpful to have written directions available. For some of our favorite kid-friendly recipes, check out our blog.
Crafts can be big or small and will vary based on your child’s age. Any craft that involves two or more steps is great for helping your child practice following directions.
- Ideas: painting, seasonal decorations (I.e. snowflakes in winter or flowers in the spring).
- You can also give your child a variety of supplies and let them be creative to create something!
In conclusion, there are many ways to target your child’s ability to organize information, follow directions, and sustain attention. This list is not exhaustive! There are so many other fun and engaging games or activities you can do. Have fun with these activities and know that your child is practicing valuable skills for the future. For more information or concerns about your child’s executive functioning, please contact us today.
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