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10 Executive Functioning Skills and Why They Are Necessary

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Executive functioning (EF) skills are a collection of cognitive abilities required for self-control and behavior management.

Self-control, working memory, and mental flexibility are among these qualities. Such functions help humans to accomplish things like follow directions, focus, manage emotions, and achieve goals.

The inability to conduct certain cognitive processes or the lack of awareness that these or other cognitive and physical impairments exist and interfere with everyday living are examples of executive function deficiencies.

Executive functioning skills are controlled by the frontal lobe of the brain.

When that part of the brain is underdeveloped the above skills are hindered. We like to refer to the frontal lobe as the “managerial” part of the brain.

Importance of Executive Functioning Skills

Executive function is a fancy term psychologists use to explain how we balance our activities, beliefs, and feelings throughout the day.

Working memory, self-control, and mental flexibility are all required for this task.
Our ability to stay focused, plan ahead, draw connections between concepts and manage stress depends on our executive functions.

Early childhood intellectual, physiological, behavioral, and linguistic processes begin to acquire executive functioning skills, despite the fact that they are rising talents that characterize adult development.

In addition, EF enables children to organize objects into groups and recognize similarities and differences and understand their own emotions.

Executive function is complex to acquire since it requires a variety of abilities and regions of the brain. As soon as toddlers show signs of being uncooperative or refusing to comply with directions, it is not that they’re attempting to be rebellious, but rather their executive functions aren’t well-developed.

It’s important to note that executive functioning is closely linked to future degrees of freedom. For example, we teach our children social skills and foster healthy connections, enabling our children to become responsible, relevant adults.

What are the 10 Executive Functioning Skills?

Planning and achieving goals are made easier with executive functioning skills. These principles include flexible thinking, planning, self-monitoring, self-control, working memory, time management, and organizational abilities, among others.

While a child’s development begins in early childhood, these talents continue to improve far into adulthood. ADHD or dyslexia are examples of learning differences that can cause difficulty with EF skills.

Most of the executive functioning skills listed below should be evident by the time a child reaches puberty.

#1 Planning

Planning, one aspect of executive functioning, is used as a basic cognitive ability to help in making decisions.

Being able to “think about the future,” cognitively anticipate a task’s completion, and/or the achievement of an objective is characterized as planning.

In order to accomplish a goal, people must decide on the optimal order of activities, assign each task to the appropriate cognitive resource, and develop a plan of action.

It is also important to note we all plan differently.

Just because you do something one way does not mean your child will do it the same way you do…the end result may be the same, but our journey getting there will vary from person to person.

Planning a vacation, creating a shopping list, preparing ingredients before cooking, doing schoolwork, packing your bag for school, cleaning a room, etc., are all examples of planning in our everyday life.

#2 Organization

One’s capacity to design and manage a strategy, and put materials and plans into action is known as organizational ability.

Homework routines, keeping track of tasks and documents, as well as being organized at home, are all part of this skill.

Planning, determining priorities, and task initiation are all strongly related to this skill. A child who lacks organizational abilities may frequently misplace permission forms and homework sheets as well as notebooks and library books, to name a few.

Despite the fact that kids often suffer consequences for being disorganized (for example, grades being docked when homework is not turned in) they do not develop their organizing skills as a result of these repercussions.

They may be aware of the need for organizing but lack the ability to keep track of things, but may not necessarily know how to devise a plan that works for them

#3 Time management

Managing time involves organizing projects effectively, completing them on time, and maintaining patience over the course of a job.

Time management is essential in most life situations, as it allows a child to move quickly between tasks and improves efficiency, timeliness, and goal-setting abilities.

The execution of a multi-step task before the deadline without hurrying or compromising quality is an example of effective time management.

#4 Working memory

Working Memory is the brain’s processing, storing, and manipulating of information. In addition to organizing our to-do lists and turning guidelines into action plans, we utilize our working memory daily.

The two forms of Working Memory are verbal working memory and non-verbal working memory, respectively.

The verbal working memory region of the brain is engaged while auditory information in the brain is being processed.

Non-Verbal Working Memory, or visual-spatial memory, happens when someone visualizes something and keeps it in their field of vision.

Those who have a poor working memory have trouble retaining important knowledge and applying it in order to go on to the next phase of a task.

When given a job requiring a student to recall sets of directions, create thoughts in response to the directives, and then articulate their ideas, they struggle.

#5 Task Initiation

Task initiation is the ability to acknowledge when it is time to get started on a task without procrastination and avoidance.

When this ability is stunted, children find it difficult to get started on schoolwork and often put off tasks until the last moment. This is a no-no.

Please consider the fact that kids who have poor task initiation postpone getting started because they simply do not know where to begin.

Labeling these students as lazy is an inaccurate perception and only exacerbates a student’s tendency to avoid.

Planned and organized activities are challenging for many youngsters who have difficulties starting.

The sheer amount of work they are asked to accomplish becomes so overwhelming students may, unfortunately, get to the point where they do nothing at all.

#6 Metacognition

A person’s capacity to monitor and assess his or her own performance essentially is learning how you learn.

Not only is it possible for a youngster to learn from his/her mistakes, it is also important to learn one’s own metacognition.

For example, the performance of a young learner may be altered in order to solve a jigsaw puzzle. This is where approach strategies come into play. We all learn differently so knowing how you learn is crucial in the learning process.

#7 Flexibility

Flexibility refers to one’s capacity to adjust to new events and circumstances. Despite hurdles, failures, and other shifting facts, students can learn techniques that alter his or her own strategies.

It’s perfectly alright for younger kids to wait their turn, even if more classmates join the game at the last minute.

When their baseball game is canceled because of bad weather, older children should be able to handle it.

Individuals who are rigid in their behavior have a difficult time when a known pattern is interrupted, or a task gets complex.

They often become frustrated when their initial plan fails. If the initial alternative becomes impractical, they are unable to think of any other options.

#8 Self Control

Self-control refers to the ability of a child to stop themselves from physical or emotional breakdowns, respectively.

Emotional control prevents a child’s overreaction or shutdown in the face of criticism or hurdles, whereas impulse control prevents a child from reacting without understanding the situation.

An example of great self-control is when a child earns a bad test score, he or she keeps focused, absorbs constructive feedback, and learns from the mistakes.

#9 Perseverance

Perseverance is the ability to continue with a task and not give up, especially when it gets difficult. Being able to overcome obstacles is also part of the equation. (htt33)

The first-grade student can finish a task in order to go to the playground. During teenage years different strategies can be used to help students build perseverance.

#10 Attention

Attention is the ability to pay close attention to a given circumstance or job without becoming distracted despite distractions, weariness, or boredom.

An example of continuous attention is the ability to have sustained focus/attention even when the subject matter is not the most interesting to them.

Executive functioning is the combination of these skills. They are all intertwined and being delayed in one of these skills will affect the outcome of other skills.

It is like the gears of a well-oiled machine.

Anxiety, ADHD, and learning disabilities may be the cause of a student’s difficulties.

Anxiety can be reduced through physiology, self-improvement, and other approaches.

Any educator, whether a special education teacher, classroom teacher, school counselor, psychologist, or paraprofessional, may assist, teach and support these essential abilities.

Learning about these abilities is also beneficial for parents who help their children with homework and projects at home.

Stay empowerED,




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