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Putting our thinking caps on (Executive Function)

October 30, 2017

Executive function is much like having an air traffic control system at a very busy airport managing the arrivals and departures of planes on multiple runways. Executive function includes the ability to:

  • Focus 

  • Hold and work with information in mind

  • Monitor errors

  • Revise plans 

  • Make decisions

  • Filter distractions. 










Science shows that we are born with the capacity to develop these skills, however they are much depended on our experiences during childhood through to adolescence. Creating the foundations of these skills is one of the most critical, yet challenging tasks in early childhood. Building on these skills are essential to healthy development and are the building blocks to learning.


Nowadays we refer to the brain as “plastic”. This means that the brain has the ability to modify by creating new pathways which in turn allows us to learn new skills.Based on this, we know that executive function skills can be supported with specialised practice and training. 



So firstly, how can you tell if your child has difficulties with executive functioning? 


Children with executive functioning difficulties may:

  • find goal setting challenging 

  • find following instructions difficult or placing steps into a sequence

  • show little awareness of the process of how things happen

  • have trouble initiating a task 

  • not think about the future or about consequences