By: Olivia Brown, M.A., CCC-SLP
Executive functioning refers to our cognitive skills to initiate and maintain attention, follow directions, remember events and information, organize information, demonstrate self-control, and more.
Like other skills, executive functions are learned through experience and practice. These skills are used daily to complete tasks and are important for being a good student, friend, and citizen.
How Does Executive Functioning Develop?
According to Harvard University, “Learning to control impulses, pay attention, and retain information actively in one’s memory does not happen automatically as children mature… young children who have problems with these skills will not necessarily outgrow them.”
Warning Signs Your Child May Need Help With Executive Functioning:
- Difficulty turning in homework on time, even when it was already completed.
- Disorganized writing (events or words out of order).
- Trouble retaining or recalling information.
- Difficulty solving word problems and multi-step problems.
Activities to Help My Child With Executive Functioning
If you are concerned about your child’s executive functioning you can always contact their school, health care provider, and local tutoring center for further evaluation. We specialize in working with these skills and would be happy to help, but there are a few ways to support your child in the meantime:
Create a Routine
Creating a routine provides children with consistency. At infancy, your child can begin using their working memory to anticipate activities or steps in your routine (i.e. bath, story, and then bedtime). For older children, it gives them a chance to use and refine their working memory to plan and/or execute their routine with increased independence.
Break Big Tasks into Small, Manageable Pieces
Turning large tasks into smaller ones allows your child to make accomplishments on their own. If your child cannot complete a task, give them the opportunity to ask for help while still recognizing independence in previously completed steps.
As an infant, games like peek-a-boo or tickling increase your child’s attention. Board or card games are another great way to teach your child about following rules and impulse control. This can also lay the groundwork for patience.
Sources and Additional Resources
Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs. At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success. Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.
740 Community Drive, Unit A
North Liberty, IA 52317
5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300
Johnston, IA 50131