In the last few years’ executive dysfunction has become a hot topic in the world of education. It has become an important area of research for good reason! There is mounting evidence to indicate that the collection of skills that comprise executive functions are a stronger way to gauge academic and social success than IQ. So what does this new buzz word mean? It is an umbrella term for the collection of the following skills: regulation of emotions and impulses, organization, sequencing, adapting, recalling information, persisting through a task even when it’s difficult, working memory, and task initiation. Reduced development in these areas can affect all areas of academics and social interactions. We are all born with the capacity to develop these skills, and they continue to be refined all the way through early adulthood. Unfortunately, little is known about improving these skills.
Beware of computer programs or tutors that market themselves as boosting executive functions. Computer programs like “Tools of the Mind” are not supported by evidence and anyone is allowed to call themselves an executive function tutor; it is an unregulated area. They are not licensed by a governing body. But all is not lost! Aerobic exercise is a well supported way to improve these skills in both children and adults. In particular, working memory, focused attention, inhibition, and task persistence are developed.
Check out this article for more information: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/blogs/secretlife/blogposts/the-science-of-smart-surprising-way-to-improve-executive-function/
Here’s another piece from Harvard about creating opportunities for your child or teenager to practice executive functions: http://developingchild.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Enhancing-and-Practicing-Executive-Function-Skills-with-Children-from-Infancy-to-Adolescence-1.pdf