What Exactly is Executive Functioning? Teacher Time To Go breaks it down and provides tips and tricks for the best school year ever!
If you are a parent of a child anywhere from preschool age to college age then I can guarantee, with almost 100% certainty that you have heard of the latest buzz word in education – Executive Functioning (EF).
Let me start by mentioning that even though I was a classroom teacher for 10+ years with my Masters in Education and Special Education, the term Executive Functioning still overwhelmed me. So, you are not in this alone if you are struggling to make sense of this concept. It wasn’t until I took a step back to look at the bigger picture and find ways to make it relatable to myself and more importantly, my students, that it finally began to click.
Executive Functioning can best be understood as skills that we use everyday to learn, work, and manage daily life. Here is a quick breakdown of 5 of the main EF areas and a quick highlight of each:
- Goal Setting – setting academic and personal goals
- Thinking Flexibly – processing skills in a new way
- Organizing Information – categorizing and sorting information
- Working Memory – juggling ideas in the brain
- Self-Monitoring – recognizing mistakes and self-reflecting
Individuals with Executive Functioning deficits, struggle in 2 or more of these areas. So, if your child fits this description, or if you do, then read on for some tips on how to create and develop some EF skills that are proven to work! You will notice the re-occurring theme for each of these : )
Develop a routine – TOGETHER
Whether it is the morning rush, or after school chaos, pick one time that seems to be the most unsettled with your child. Together, discuss what should happen vs what actually happens (ie: Instagram vs reality). Visualize the steps that could be taken to make it a productive and effective time together. Maybe a checklist is involved, maybe there are timers, find what works and as I like to say, just show up! It takes 21 days for an action to become a habit, so stay consistent.
Note: after you accomplish one part of the day, move on to the next and so on and so forth.
Set realistic expectations – TOGETHER
There is nothing more discouraging than setting a goal and giving up after 2 days. The reason most people give up is because the goal was not realistic from the start. When something is out of reach, it becomes too overwhelming to face. We’ve all had those goals like: no scrolling on social media all day. What if we re-phrased it as: I am going to allow myself 5 minutes of scrolling time 2x a day? This wording is more measurable and attainable. That is what we have to do with our kids. We need to allow them to make the choices that work for them, in a way that makes sense and then hold them accountable in order to help develop their Executive Functioning skills.
Model behaviors – TOGETHER
My first year of teaching I wanted to hit the ground running. By day 3 I was already teaching math facts and by the end of the week the students were in small group centers. Guess what happened week 2? I realized I never modeled what getting in a line looked like, my students didn’t know where the bathroom was and our classroom library was in shambles. I spent the next 2 weeks modeling (leading by example) how things should be done to be effective and productive. That is what you have to do with your children. Together, model what it should look like. Role play what developing a routine (tip 1 above) should look, sound, and feel like. While it will be hard at first, if you stick with it, everything will fall into place!
If you are looking for individualized support for your child or a consultation session for yourself, please feel free to reach out to Teacher Time To Go. We are a “travel to you” and virtual tutoring company providing Individualized Tutoring, Homework Help, Test Prep, Enrichment Services, Special Education Support, and Executive Functioning/Organizational Skills for kids PreK-College and we are here to help
We hope you found this information helpful and inspiring and if you took just one thing from article, consider it a win : )
Have the best school year ever!
Jennifer Shemtob Starkie
Owner of Teacher Time To Go
Founder of Elite Early Education