Executive Functioning Skills: From Workbooks to the Workplace

Executive Functioning Skills: From Workbooks to the Workplace | HSLDA Blog

EXECUTIVE MOM, THE BIG BOSS

As a homeschooling mom, I have no problem stating that I am pretty much the head honcho of our school day. I’m a planner, an organizer, and a problem solver. This is what I do. I make sure that the business of home and school are taken care of like a (mostly) well-oiled machine.

For that to happen, I’m in a constant state of monitoring progress throughout the day to ensure we are where we need to be and when we need to be there. It might be the laundry, math, chores, extracurricular activities, paying bills, planning our lessons, or orchestrating any number of playdates, homeschool events, and so on and so forth. Just as in my house (with Mom as the “big boss” of the school day), Executive Functioning Skills are the “big boss” of the brain!

WHAT ARE EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING SKILLS?

There are times when I have to remind myself that my timeline and plans are not just line entries on my planner that need to be crossed off. So, when things aren’t working out, I assess the damage, devise a new plan and start implementing it. I was born with a skill set that has been keenly sharpened for years: Multitasking, knowing when to seek outside help, and applying prior knowledge to current situations to solve the problem at hand in an emotionally stable manner. All of these things are combined to create executive functioning skills. By visiting www.understood.org, you can see the 8 different components of executive functioning skills are:

  • Flexibility
  • Impulse Control
  • Emotional Control
  • Working Memory
  • Prioritizing and Planning
  • Self-monitoring
  • Task Initiation
  • Organization

WHATS THE BIG DEAL?

The school day is just the minor leagues for the big time, the main event, the game of life. If a child is having a hard time making it through the day with small tasks or assignments, how well are they going to fare in managing life? Success is much more likely when executive functioning skills are within acceptable range. Not all kids struggle in all areas. Your child may be challenged with executive functioning weaknesses in one or more area and this may or may not coexist with other learning disabilities. Early intervention is key, and there are many ways to strengthen and improve limited function. Imagine the confidence boost they would receive when these managerial skills are present! Does your child:

  • Fail to see that their study technique is not working
  • Have a hard time maintaining focus or keeping track of time
  • Lose their words or train of thought easily
  • Have a difficult time with decision making
  • Have a tough time with transitions
  • Have a one-track mind
  • Struggle with feedback and time management

HOW TO HELP

Once you’ve identified the struggle, the next question is, naturally, how can I help my child? There are many different ways to help at home or help your child help himself. Depending on the area in which they are struggling, you might consider organizational tools such as checklists and reminder apps. You might also look into different ways to strengthen working memory or cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s also important to note that including your little CEOs in your planning, organizing, and workplace grooming habits is a wonderful way for them to see these skills in action. Let them help explain and implement the tools that work for them and give them a chance to be the big boss! After all, there’s nothing quite like on-the-job training.

-Kristy

Photo Credit: Graphic design by Charity Klicka

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