The Importance of Executive Functioning Skills with Early Learners

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, there is a growing body of research that Executive Functioning (EF) skills are critical to implement in the home and classroom environments. Times have changed and increased academic demands on students have created the need to rely on strategies to help children plan, initiate, and organize academic and social responsibilities. Parents, teachers, and specialists can help support EF skills to optimize students’ full learning potential.

 

There are several strategies to help your child develop their EF skill sets:


• One of the best ways to help your child complete a task is through the use of scaffolding techniques. Help your child develop a skill by modeling what that skills looks like first. Try again, and overtime lessen your support. Eventually, your child will work towards completing the task independently.


• Yet another strategy to help your child is through the use of a checklist or picture chart of the tasks to be completed. Once a child knows the expectations up front they are more likely to finish projects and tasks in a timely manner. Checklists are imperative to use because children can learn to prioritize their responsibilities and hold themselves accountable, which is a powerful life skill.


• Using a planner is another way to help your child organize their homework, test dates, and responsibilities. Children that demonstrate poor executive functioning typically have weak memory skills so the use of a planning book is critical to keep them on track.


• Exploring multiple learning methods is another way for students with executive functioning goals to be successful in the classroom. Learning these skills is another way to help children remember pertinent information they are reviewing in the classroom. It is as simple as using graphic organizers as a way to categorize and organize newly learned information. For example, a child could use a story map to organize information
pertaining to the plot, setting, characters, conclusion, and climax, of a newly read book. Yet another way for children to organize formulas and detailed information is through mnemonic devices. For example, a child learning order of operations in math could practice “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” (parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction). Making learning fun and manageable is the key! 

Elizabeth Fraley is the Founder/CEO of KinderReady.

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