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Executive Functioning Skills

Updated: Jan 23

Executive Function Skills and Boys

I am a former special education teacher and have spent 15 years preparing new teachers for classrooms. 90 % of all of my former school-age students were boys who were identified as gifted, and/or having a specific learning disability. Having a son of my own, now 19, who was identified as high achieving, I noticed that he like many boys had challenges with a certain set of skills. These skills included being organized, planning, completing task proactively, and remembering steps or things that needed to be done. This set of skills is often referred to as Executive Function Skills and they can be developed and mastered over time with grace, practice, and time.


These skills are important for several reasons. They help us to complete tasks in a timely manner, plan, stay focused, ignore extraneous information, arrive or submit on time, manage complex task, prioritizing tasks, care for self, and reduces the likelihood we will become so overwhelmed that we freeze or forget what we need to do in the moment.

EF skills should be introduced in the toddler years and developed over time into young adulthood. If you noticed that your child is having challenges beyond what you can support, I recommend working with an expert to see what kinds of supports and services may be available to support your child.


In this blog I discuss how to define and recognize Executive Functioning Skills (EF). In the next blog I will share tips on how to develop and promote Executive Functioning Skills.

1. Define it According to Harvard's Center on the Developing Child Executive Function is "capacity to plan ahead and meet goals, display self-control, follow multiple-step directions even when interrupted, and stay focused". Do you need to remind them of the same things often? Do they seem unorganized? Do they get overwhelmed with multiple step instructions? Are they able to manage the things they have (shoes, clothes, toys)? Are they able to complete self-care with little to no support (age appropriate)? Are they always hurrying to gather things last minute although they are aware of a scheduled event? Are they able to carry multiple items in a way that is safe and makes sense? Are they unable to quickly locate supplies, notes, and specific items?



2. Recognize It ✨ It is a good chance that you are already supporting the development of your child's EF skills. Here are some common things happening in homes that support EF skills. 1) Cooking 2) Planning 3) Using a calendar 4) Playing board games 5) Completing chores 6) Making the bed 7) Setting the table

Appreciate the ways your child is already using Executive Functioning Skills. "I like the way you remember to wash the dishes on Tuesdays. You remember on your own, the dishes are clean and it is a big help to our household." Even if they leave a spot or two and do not rinse well, it is worth appreciation. A checklist and visual reminders can be used to help them to enhance their dish washing skills.

I recommend appreciating children using their specific love language (time, attention, praise, free time, time with special person, favorite activity). I do not recommend tangible rewards like money, candy, etc. The research suggest this does not lead to internalized motivation to do things they need to do.




2. Recognize It ✨ It is a good chance that you are already supporting the development of your child's EF skills. Here are some common things happening in homes that support EF skills. 1) Cooking 2) Planning 3) Using a calendar 4) Playing board games 5) Completing chores 6) Making the bed 7) Setting the table Appreciate the ways your child is already using Executive Functioning Skills. "I like the way you remember to wash the dishes on Tuesdays. You really clean the dishes well and it is a big help to our household." Even if they leave spot and do not rinse well, it is a good start. We can use checklist and visual reminders to help them to enhance their dish washing skills. It is best to appreciate children with their forms of love language (time, attention, praise, free time, time with special person, favorite activity). I do not recommend tangible rewards like money, candy, etc. The research suggest this does not lead to internalized motivation to do things they need to do.


Stay tuned for more tips....

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Dr. Yvette C. Latunde

www.Bridgesleadership.com

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