Introduction

“Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully” (Harvard University). For students with executive dysfunction, various aspects of the school day can be difficult. By integrating executive function skills into your class curriculum, all of your students, especially those who have difficulty focusing, completing tasks efficiently, controlling emotions, and processing information, will benefit immensely.

Resources

There are many resources available online for teaching executive function skills in the classroom. Whether you are teaching these skills to students with executive function deficits or not, your work is important! Check out the resources below!

Lesson Plans

  1. Activities Guide – Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence: Harvard University has put together an activity guide for helping children of various ages improve their executive function skills. Included in this guide are three different parts: Executive Function 101, The Science of Executive Function, Building Executive Function Skills. Additionally, there are an abundance of resources (split by age groups) and each contains a few different recommendations of activities that will help with executive function skills. For educators who are looking for activities to implement into their classrooms, taking a look at this resource will be helpful!

Articles

  1. Helping Students Develop Executive Function Skills: edutopia offers educators simple classroom strategies which can “assist students with deficits in executive function skills like time management and active listening.” Recommendations include offering teaching support, using metacognitive language, developing time management skills, reviewing before new learning begins, checking in frequently with students, and offering environmental support. By integrating some of these strategies into your classroom, students with and without deficits may be able to improve their executive function. Take a look and see which strategies you would be willing to bring to your classroom!
  2. Strategies to Build Executive Functioning Skills, Part 1 and Part 2: Scholastic has published an article providing educators with three broad categories of skills related to executive functioning that they can best support in the classroom, including organization and prioritization, working memory, and self-monitoring. Under each category, the author gives educators tips on how to help students improve upon these particular skills. Ultimately, it is up to educators to find what works for each student who is struggling, as they will require different degrees and types of support. For struggling students, the author advises implementing strategies gradually in order to prevent them from feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Helping Kids Who Struggle With Executive Functions: The Child Mind Institute provides an article which is focused on helping kids who struggle with executive functions. Learning disorder specialists have come up with different ways for children with poor executive functioning to improve their skills. The tools that these specialists teach kids to help them handle school work and other tasks which require organization and completion include utilizing checklists, setting time limits, using planners, spelling out the rationale, exploring different ways of learning, establishing a routine, using a reward system, and more.

Informational Sites

  1. Executive Function Fact Sheet: LD OnLine has put together a fact sheet on executive function. From this sheet, educators and students alike will be able to learn about what executive function is, how it affects learning, how problems with executive function are identified, what strategies help with it, etc. Learning about executive dysfunction will help educators be better equipped to help students with these deficits, and it will give students an understanding of the struggles which certain members of their class may face daily.
  2. What Is Executive Function Disorder?: ADDitude provides an informational page on executive dysfunction. Educators and students will be able to learn about what executive dysfunction and executive functioning is. Additionally, information is present on how executive function disorders develop and their symptoms, causes, treatment options, and various types. This resource is full of information that will be useful for all to learn.

Conclusion

Teaching executive function skills in the classroom is a very important task. These skills will not only help your students thrive in the classroom but will also serve them well in the future. The resources above will give you insight on how to integrate these skills into your curriculum!

Additional Resources

  1. 15+ Ways to Teach Executive Functioning Skills: This site offers over fifteen different ways to teach executive functioning skills in the classroom. Each of these tips comes with a brief explanation. The tips include teaching skills explicitly, playing board games, using crafts, engaging in class discussions, reading literature and stories, highlighting skills throughout the day, using an interactive notebook, and more. 
  2. Tips and Ideas for Teaching Executive Functioning Skills: Teachers Pay Teachers has published a brief article on tips and ideas for teaching executive functioning skills in the classroom. These tips include incorporating these skills into morning and afternoon routines, projects, and daily work. The author emphasizes the importance of administrator buy-in because in order for educators to be sure they have space in their day and the curriculum to teach these skills to students, having an administrator helping them out can be helpful. At the bottom of the page, there are a handful of resources linked that educators can access if they are looking for more information and resources.