As parents, we want nothing more than for our children to reach their potential and thrive in the world.
Fortunately, science now helps us understand what gets in the way of some people being able to achieve their goals, large and small.
You may have heard the term “Executive Function.” It is part of the brain located in the prefrontal cortex,
and it is the last part of the brain to develop. Executive Functions are the cognitive skills that give us
the ability to focus, plan, and act in a goal-directed manner —
and current research shows that these functions are responsible for how effective we are at managing ourselves.
While children are young – it is generally the parents and teachers who act as the CEO of the brain.
Our goal is that as our children develop and mature, they gradually become their own CEO’s.
I like to think of each of the Executive Functions as being a manager, and the overall manager is the
CEO, Chief Executive Officer, of the brain captured in the table below.
I am going to describe what our Executive Functions are briefly, and you will see why being weak
in a particular area can impact performance, regardless of how intelligent and motivated, we are.
When we think about each of these Executive Functions as skills, then we realize
that some kids need more direct instruction and support to develop confidence and proficiency.
Understanding what Executive Functions are and how they impact learning, motivation, and behavior
are the first steps parents need to take knowing how to best support their child’s development.
Note: If you have a child who seems to be struggling in many of these areas more than would seem expected for their age,
you may want to seek an evaluation from a professional to see if ADHD or learning challenges are impacting their ability to perform.