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Saturday, January 1, 2022


Executive Function (aka EF) is a great resolution for 2022! Why? It seems to be a bigger predictor of academic success and life success than IQ. It’s a trait that begins in infancy and continues to develop throughout childhood into adolescence. An interesting aspect of EF is that it tends to transfer from one situation to the next. A child who learns to self-regulate in the classroom will also find it easier to self-regulate on the soccer field.

Definitions of EF are broad and diverse, but these are some common characteristics of the executive function:

Inhibition – can think about consequences before acting

Self-regulation – can stop oneself from inappropriate behavior

Initiation – starts new tasks independently

Organization – can organize thoughts as well as materials

Planning – can think through steps and prioritize

Time Management – predicts how long things will take and works at an appropriate speed

Adaptability and Flexibility – is able to shift focus and adapt strategies

Working Memory – can keep information in one’s mind (aka teacher’s directions)

Multi-tasks – can deal with several things simultaneously

Self-awareness – chooses a level that is not too difficult or too easy - asks for help when necessary

Emotional Control – is aware of and can manage feelings

Personal Satisfaction – derives pleasure from reinforcers

Focus – can attend to details and avoid being distracted

Self-monitoring – can reflect on one’s work and evaluate personal performance

Delayed Gratification – resists immediate reward for a larger reward later

Wouldn't we all like students who can multi-task, work independently, get along with others, follow directions, obey rules, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  Wish I had a magic pill or potion to give you, but over the next few days I'll share some teacher tips and strategies for nurturing the executive function in your classroom in 2022. 

Kaufman, C. (2010). Executive function in the classroom: Practical strategies for improving performance and enhancing skills for all students. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing

Funky Feet in 2022
O.K. This doesn't have a lot to do with the executive function, but it was such a simple and "active" way to reinforce skills that I thought you might like to try it this month. All you'll need is some funky duct tape. Each day write some information you want to reinforce on a sheet of heavy paper and tape it to the floor with the funky tape by the classroom door. Children repeat the information each time as they go in and out the door. For example:

Letters - children say the letter and something that starts with the sound
Math facts - children say the answer
Sight words - children read the word
*Hint! You could also make letters, numbers, or shapes on the floor with the duct tape.