Executive Function For Children

Executive Functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. How Does Executive Function Affect Learning?

There are specific skills embedded in Executive Function that allow us to self-regulate behavior in order to maximize our effectiveness in all we do. Successful Executive Function allows us to:

  • Plan

  • Organize

  • Manage Time

  • Hold information in mind while performing

  • complex tasks

  • Self-evaluate

  • Think before you act

  • Emotional control

  • Flexibility

  • Task Initiation

  • Sustained Attention

  • Goal directed persistence

How Do I Know If My Child Has Executive Function Problems?

Does your student have difficulty with:

•   Planning projects

•   Understanding how much time a project will take to complete

•   Communicating details either verbally or written

•   Memorizing and then retrieving information from memory

•   Initiating activities or tasks, or generating ideas independently

•   Retaining information while doing something (dial a phone number)What Are Some Strategies to Help?

There are many effective strategies to help with the problem of executive function challenges.

•   Develop time awareness

•   Rely on visual organizational aids

•   Use tools like time organizers or planners

•   Develop routines

•   Prepare visual schedules and review them several times a day

•   Ask for written directions with oral instructions

•   Plan and structure transition times and shifts in activities

•   Create checklists and “to do” lists

•   Estimate how long tasks will take

•   Break long assignments into pieces

•   Identify optimal work intervalsExecutive Function Coaching versus Tutoring

Executive Function coaching differs from tutoring in the sense that the coach does more than model skills and provide guided practice in a specific subject.

The coaches helps the students learn skills and approaches rather than content and subject material. It is critical for the student to really “buy-in” to the plan, and the coach then provides constructive feedback and encouragement. A dialogue develops whereby the coach inquires regularly as to “what do you need from me to help YOU execute on your plan” vs. “how can I help you." This subtle difference in approach results in the student more fully taking responsibility.

Being coached in Executive Function provides a student with skills that will maximize their efforts in school, but later in life when they enter the workforce.

For information on Greenwich Education's Group Executive Function Skills program, contact Diane Ferber at dferber@greenwichedgroup.com