Why Are Executive Skills Important?
Executive skills are the mental capabilities which enable children to plan and complete tasks at school. Kids who have issues with executive skills struggle to organise themselves and keep up in the classroom. This is the underlying cause of many attention and learning problems.
Signs Your Child May Need Support
Without sound executive skills, students find it difficult to pay attention and remember details. They are unable to make connections and use knowledge from past experiences to solve problems.
It’s important for teachers and parents to identify students who need support as early as possible.
Does your child have any of these problems?
- Difficulty staying on task. Children who rarely complete anything at home or school may not have the concentration span needed to finish tasks. These children are not lazy, they have simply not yet developed the skills to follow tasks through to completion.
- Difficulty making plans. A good way to determine if your child has the skills to make plans is to set a task for them and observe how they complete it. Do they follow steps to achieve their goal, or do they struggle to begin? Even small kids should be able to make simple plans and act on them.
- Limited problem-solving skills. The ability to apply what has been learned in the past to new situations is the foundation of learning. Students who have trouble making connections are seriously disadvantaged at school. Is your child able to work through homework problems on their own or do they become distracted and frustrated?
- Trouble keeping track of time. It’s not uncommon for kids to lose track of time now and then, but if your child is consistently unable to stick to routines or finish tasks on time, they may need help with their executive skills.
- Problems with multitasking. The ability to work on a range of tasks simultaneously has become critical at school and in the workplace. A child with limited executive skills will become overwhelmed when they need to choose between competing priorities.
How Can Executive Skills be Developed?
The great news is there are many simple things parents can do to help children develop executive skills.
Getting young children to put groceries away teaches them about sorting and organising. Encouraging them to create checklists and tick off completed tasks assists them to make plans. A good way to model problem solving is by talking through a problem together and coming up with a solution.
There are also excellent programs available for developing executive skills, such as Tutor Doctor’s X-Skills Game Plan. This programme is designed to assists students at all levels to plan and prioritise more effectively.
Children work closely with a tutor to improve their memory and concentration. They use a calendar-based agenda to develop their organisational and time management skills, and they also learn how monitor their own performance.
Executive skills are vital for academic success so it’s important to seek help if you have any concerns about your child.