Teaching students planning, time management and organizational skills is necessary in education. Although some find executive functioning to be quite obvious, there are those that need to learn the process.
Executive Functioning is Made Up of Three Core Cognitive Skills
Executive functions can be broken down into three key cognitive skills:
Working memory is the process of holding and manipulating sensory information in the mind. It is also a vital skill in both encoding and retrieving information from long term memory.
Inhibitory control involves managing one's attention, behavior, thoughts, and/or emotions so that actions are aligned with personal goals.
Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adapt or shift our thoughts and behaviors in response to the environment.
Here are 10 Recommendations:
Here are some specific strategies you can try at home or at school.
- Provide an organized environment.
- Set an example. Use a planner and create a structured routine for yourself and use labeled boxes, shelves and filing systems so that everything has its place.
- Praise self initiation. In the beginning, rewarding kids for executive functioning skills will provide greater motivation.
- Organize time and post schedule around the house or classroom so that a daily routine can be established.
- Provide structure by offering a lot of support in the beginning. Do the process together and slowly pull away as the needed skills are acquired independently.
- Give reminders and help students come up with systems so that they can remind others as well as themselves.
- Use calendars. Show the different calendar options to students and let them pick their preference. Some students need to see the “big picture” and may prefer a month or two at a glance, others may choose one or to weeks at a time, and then there are those who like to manage one day at a time. Checking and maintaining these calendars at allocated times on a daily basis is important.
- Stay calm and supportive. Maintaining a mindful and peaceful demeanor will help to create a “safe” environment where students can learn from their mistakes.
- Avoid negative labels such as careless or unmotivated as it will only create negative energy. For many, name calling will make children feel helpless to the point where they stop trying.
- Provide breaks. For many, the maintenance of executive skills is exhausting and scheduling unstructured breaks can help provide some “down time.”
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