Executive Functions occur in the Frontal Lobe. Mylenation- insulates branches that carry nerve signals, making the “conversations” between nerve cells faster and more efficient… the more pathways are used, the more entrenched they become and the faster and more efficient the connections will develop
Direct our behavior, helping us decide what we should pay attention to and what actions we should take Link our behaviors together so that we can use past experience to guide our behavior and make future decisions Help us control our emotions and behavior, taking into account external and internal constraints as we work to satisfy our needs and desires. By regulating our emotions and social interactions, the frontal lobes help us to meet our needs without causing problems for ourselves or others The frontal lobes observe, assess, and fine tune, allowing us to correct our behavior and choose a new strategy based on feedback The Frontal Lobes
Working Memory The ability to hold information in memory while performing complex tasks. It incorporates the ability to draw on past learning or experience to apply to the situation at hand or to project into the future. The capacity to hold information in mind for the purpose of completing a task. Examples: A young child can hold in mind and follow one- or two- step directions. The middle school child can remember the expectations of multiple teachers.
Planning/Prioritization The ability to create a roadmap to reach a goal or to complete a task. It also involves being able to make decisions about what’s important to focus on and what’s not important. The ability to manage current and future-oriented task demands Examples: A young child, with coaching, can think of options to settle a peer conflict. A teenager can formulate a plan to get a job.
Organization The ability to create and maintain systems to keep track of information or materials. The ability to impose order on work, play, and storage spaces Examples: A young child can, with a reminder, put toys in a designated place. A teenager can organize and locate sports equipment.
Time Management The capacity to estimate how much time one has, how to allocate it, and how to stay within time limits and deadlines. It also involves a sense that time is important. Examples: A young child can complete a short job within a time limit set by an adult. A teenager can establish a schedule to meet task deadlines.
Self-Monitoring (Metacognition) The ability to stand back and take a bird’s-eye view of yourself in a situation, to observe for your problem solve. It also includes self-monitoring and self- evaluative skills (e.g., asking yourself, “How am I doing?” or “How did I do?”) The ability to monitor one’s own performance and to measure it against some standard of what is needed or expected Examples: A young child can change behavior in response to feedback from an adult. A teenager can monitor and critique her performance and improve it by observing others who are more skilled.
Inhibition The capacity to think before you act– this ability to resist the urge to say or do something allows your child the time to evaluate a situation and how his or her behavior might impact it. The ability to stop one’s own behavior at the appropriate time, including stopping actions and thoughts. The flip side of inhibition is impulsivity; if you have weak ability to stop yourself from acting on your impulses, then you are “impulsive.” Examples: A young child can wait for a short period without being disruptive. An adolescent can accept a referee’s call without an argument.
Emotional Control The ability to manage emotions to achieve goals, complete tasks, or control and direct behavior. The ability to modulate emotional responses by bringing rational thought to bear on feelings. Examples: A young child with this skill can recover from a disappointment in a short time. A teenager can manage the anxiety of a game or test and still perform.
Sustained Attention The capacity to keep paying attention to a situation or task in spite of distractibility, fatigue, or boredom. Example: Completing a 5-minute chore with occasional supervision is an example of sustained attention in the younger child. A teenager can pay attention to homework, with short breaks, for 1 to 2 hours.
Initiation The ability to begin projects without undue procrastination in an efficient and timely fashion. The ability to begin a task or activity and to independently generate ideas, responses, or problem-solving strategies. Examples: A young child is able to start a chore or assignment right after instructions are given. A teenager does not wait until the last minute to begin a project.
Persistence The capacity to have a goal, follow through to the completion of the goal, and not be put off by or distracted by competing interests. Example: A first grader can complete a job to get to recess. A teenager can earn and save money over time to buy something of importance.
Shift Flexibility– the ability to revise plans in the face of obstacles, set backs, new information, or mistakes. It relates to an adaptability to changing conditions. Examples: A young child can adjust to a change in plans without major distress. A teenager can accept an alternative such as a different job when the first choice is not available. The ability to move freely from one situation to another. Examples: A young child can adjust to a change in plans without major distress. A teenager can accept an alternative such as a different job when the first choice is not available.
How are YOUR Executive Functions Functioning? Executive Function Check-Up
Typical Development of Executive Functions
Preschool Run simple errands (e.g., “Get your shoes from the bedroom”) Tidy bedroom or playroom with assistance Perform simple chores and self-help tasks with reminders (e.g., clear dishes from table, brush teeth, get dressed) Inhibit behaviors: don’t touch a hot stove; don’t run into the street; don’t grab a toy from another child; don’t hit, bite, push, etc. ( Dawson and Guare, 2004)
Kindergarten-Grade 2 Run Errands (two to three step directions) Tidy Bedroom or playroom Perform simple chores, self-help tasks; may need reminders (e.g., to make bed) Bring papers to and from school (Dawson and Guare, 2004)
Kindergarten-Grade 2 Complete homework assignments (20 minutes maximum) Decide how to spend money (allowance) Inhibit behaviors: follow safety rules, don’t swear, raise hand before speaking in class, keep hands to self (Dawson and Guare, 2004)
Grades 3-5 Run errands (may involve time delay or greater distance such as going to a nearby store or remembering to do something after school) Tidy bedroom or playroom (may include vacuuming, dusting, etc.) Perform chores that take minutes (e.g., clean up after dinner, rake leaves) Bring books, papers, assignments to and from school (Dawson and Guare, 2004)
Grades 3-5 Keep track of belongings when away from home Complete homework assignments (1 hour maximum) Plan simple school projects such as book reports (select book, read book, write report) Keep track of changing daily schedule (i.e. different activities after school) (Dawson and Guare, 2004)
Grades 3-5 Save money for desired objects; plan how to earn money Inhibit/self-regulate: behave when teacher is out of the classroom; refrain from rude comments, temper tantrums, bad manners (Dawson and Guare, 2004)
Grades 6-8 Help out with chores around the home, including both daily responsibilities and occasional tasks (e.g. emptying dishwasher, raking leaves, shoveling snow); tasks may take minutes to complete Baby-sit younger siblings or for pay Use system for organizing schoolwork, including assignment book, notebooks, etc. Follow complex school schedule involving changing teachers and changing schedules (Dawson and Guare, 2004)
Grades 6-8 Plan and carry out long-term projects, including tasks to be accomplished and reasonable timeline to follow; may require planning multiple large projects simultaneously Plan time, including after school activities, homework, family responsibilities; estimate how long it takes to complete individual tasks and adjust schedule to fit Inhibit rule breaking in the absence of visible authority (Dawson and Guare, 2004)
High School Manage schoolwork effectively on a day- to-day basis including completing and handing in assignments on time, studying for tests, creating and following timelenes for long-term projects, and making adjustments in effort and quality of work in response to feedback from teachers and others (e.g., grades on tests, papers) (Dawson and Guare, 2004)
High School Establish and refine a long-term goal and make plans for meeting that goal. If the goal beyond high school is college, the youngster selects appropriate courses and maintains grade point average (GPA) to ensure acceptance into college. The youngster also participates in extracurricular activities, signs up for and takes SATs or ACTs at the appropriate time, and carries out the college application process. If the youngster does not plan to go to college, he/she pursues vocational courses and, if applicable, employment outside of school to ensure training and experience necessary to obtain employment after graduation (Dawson and Guare, 2004)
High School Make good use of leisure time, including obtaining employment or pursuing recreational activities during the summer Inhibit reckless and dangerous behaviors (e.g., use of illegal substances, sexual acting out, shoplifting or vandalism) (Dawson and Guare, 2004)
Assess Skills Set Measurable Goals Modify the Environment “Just Enough” Provide Explicit Instruction Reinforce Good Behaviors/Skills
Modify The Environment When is “Enough” Enough?!? What is TOO MUCH support? Never do for a student what he or she can do for himself/herself! Trial and error Trust in each other’s good intentions Always “up the ante” and ask for behavior that is “remarkable” or “unexpected” for rewards Give each other feedback Make adjustments and tweak, tweak, tweak
Executive Functions in Action Now, its Your Turn!