January 2024 Newsletter – Promoting Executive Function Skills: Strategies to Build EF Skills for Children and Families

Strategies to Build EF Skills for Children and Families

Children and families rely on Executive Function skills throughout the day. Infants need EF skills to hold eye contact with their caregiver. Toddlers need EF skills to get dressed in the morning. Preschoolers following a daily routine are using EF skills. For families, making decisions, recalling how something is done, and conducting work tasks require the use of EF skills as well.

The child’s EF skill development flows from interacting with the environment and adults and peers. There are various early childhood strategies to support children’s development of EF skills:

  • Visual Aids
  • Kinesthetic Method
  • Social Stories
  • Family Support

Visual learners benefit from aids that help children practice EF skills. For example, a daily schedule posted on the family child care wall, a checklist with 1- and 2-step directions, and well-organized learning centers are visual aids. With these visual aids, children are free to “do the thinking” and therefore practice EF skills required during play.

Kinesthetic learners benefit from the hands-on making and doing of tasks. These children gain knowledge by touching and manipulating materials to get the desired outcome. For example, sensory activities fit this bill. We can fill the sensory table with fake snow and allow children to experience, and ultimately learn, through hands-on experience with the materials.

Social Stories are effective for helping children understand tasks in bite-size pieces. Told from a child’s first-person perspective, Social Stories are like self-talk in guiding children through a process. Therefore, children gain EF skills, such as memory recall, from interacting with Social Stories over time.
Family Support also plays a pivotal role in helping children succeed in life through the development of EF skills. By setting up a home environment that includes a consistent routine, supportive and responsive relationships, play, and an understanding of Executive Functions, children will benefit. The home environment acts as a teacher, setting children up with many opportunities to practice and strengthen EF skills.

There are many best practices integrated into early childhood settings that are tied to EF skills. The inclusion of visual aids, kinesthetic methods, Social Stories, and family support are some examples. Through careful attention to strategies, we can help children to grow and master these skills.

 

For the main article Promoting Executive Function Skills, CLICK HERE

For the article Executive Function: What is it and why does it matter?, CLICK HERE

For the article The Science of EF: Building Better Lives, CLICK HERE

For the article Strategies to Build EF Skills for Teachers/Adults, CLICK HERE