In much simpler terms Executive function skills mean the skills which are required to complete the basic functions of the mind and body coordination like following directions, acknowledging emotions and controlling them, planning, self-control, doing day-to-day chores, working memory, organizing, and much more. Basically, Executive function skills are required to maintain daily life in order. Executive function skills are first tested when an individual learns something new, retains the information, and executes the same in daily life. For most of the kids, EF or (Executive function skills) are tested when the child begins gaining a larger amount of knowledge in pre-school. Executive function skills develop quickly in some students, while it takes time for some kids.
Every child or student has their area of executive dysfunction generally, but for some students, it takes much more time to develop Executive function skills, and thus such students are categorized or put in the ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) category. It is not that these kids lack somewhere, just they take a little longer than usual to adapt to Executive function skills. In this context every individual lack some of the other executive function skill, thus making everyone not perfect.
Now, after understanding what exactly are Executive function skills required for; let us first understand the basic areas of Executive functions which help an individual in receptive actions.
- Working Memory
Working memory is one of the brain’s functions, where it allows a person to work with information attentively, without losing the track of the chore. It acts like temporary storage that holds the new information for the brain until the new information is connected with other older information in the brain.
For instance, the students are able to see scenarios that the teacher is explaining for the time being, but these scenarios are temporary until the brain locks the information and remembers it. By the end of the class or in the next class students might even forget it. Thus working memory is a short-term memory that handles and perceives the task or information for the given time.
- Cognitive Flexibility (Flexible thinking)
Flexible thinking allows a person or a student to switch from one mental task to another without any hindrances or problems. In simpler terms, Cognitive Flexibility is the ability of the brain which allows thinking multiple things at the same given point of time. A person can perform multiple mental tasks with the help of this function. This function also includes Cognitive Inhibition, which is the brain’s ability to filter out irrelevant information and retain the necessary information.
- Inhibitory Control (Self-control or Attention control)
This skill involves the ability to inhibit impulses, reactions, or desires in order to engage in an appropriate manner with the given situation. It also allows an individual or student to focus on something specific from multiple things. This ability allows self-monitoring or allows to keep track of what a student or a person is performing.
After understanding in a deeper context about the Executive function skills, now let us discuss how students can develop Executive Function Skills. Below are a few ways that can help students in developing Executive Function Skills:
1. Providing oppurtunities to collaborate and socialize
Students need an evolving memory and skills to collaborate and socialize with others to be a part of the community. Classrooms, public speaking seminars, skill-developing classes, and much more provide the best opportunities to the students to strengthen executive functions by developing networks, deriving solutions, and solving problems that are a part of day-to-day life. Small group activities can also help in developing Executive function skills.
Planning makes it easier to execute chores and tasks at a given time and thus forming a daily routine more flexibly and properly. Using a planner helps the function of working memory. Planners allow scheduling tasks, especially for those who have a slow-building of executive functions. Even schools have planners for school activities, in a similar manner, a student should also have a separate planner for home, to plan out the rest of the activities at home.
3. Making Checklists
Checklists minimize the strain on the brain and make the tasks more achievable. Checklists are especially important for students with executive dysfunction. Checklists also make the decision process faster, prioritizing events and chores, and satisfaction of completing the task at the end of the day. Ckecklisting is very important for students with executive dysfunction, as it allows for better decision-making abilities and also makes the chores more doable without much confusion.
4. Setting Time Limits
Assigning time limits, during the planning process while performing chores makes the execution process smooth. Assigning a time limit for each process or task of the day, like doing homework, attending sessions, playing, watching television, and much more throughout the day for the students to prioritize tasks at a given time without much confusion. Setting time limits, planning, and checklist chores are a very important series of processes for students with executive dysfunction or slower Executive function skills.
Important key factors to remember after reading the article :
Executive function skills are responsible for :
- Paying Attention
- Organizing, Planning, Prioritizing Tasks
- Being engaged in the task while performing it.
- Regulating and controlling emotions.
- Understanding different perspectives or angles for a given circumstance or oppurtunity.
- Self control or monitoring.
- Performing regualar tasks with utmost comfort and without getting distracted by hindrances.
Thus, a few methods are mentioned above for helping students to develop Executive Function Skills.