Executive-Function Skills: Important Skills for Childhood Development


[ music plays ] [ bell rings ]We’re not born with
the skills we need
to get things done
successfully,
especially in this fast
and complicated world.
But here’s the good news.The skills we need
can be taught,
and they form a foundation
for self-regulation
and help build social-emotional
skills.
Grouped together,
three of the most foundational
are called executive functions.Executive functions are a set
of three cognitive skills:
flexible attention,
working memory,
and inhibitory control.When complex things
are happening around us,
executive functions
help us stay on task,
make plans, set goals,and carry them out
successfully.
They act like
a traffic flagger —
intentionally managing
and coordinating
many things at once,like helping drivers
and pedestrians stay safe
and making sure they obey
the rules of the road.
Flexible attention allows usto shift our attention
when necessary,
directing it
to the most important tasks
and sustaining it
while we’re working on them.
Flexible attention allows us
to switch focus quickly
from one thing to another.Working memory is the abilityto remember and use
important information,
like driving directions.Working memory allows us
to store important information
so we can access it
when needed.
Inhibitory control
is the ability
to pause and think
before we act.
It helps us resist impulses…it keeps us on task…and helps us set goals
and carry them out.
Executive functions
help students learn
and be successful in school —solving math problems,
following directions,
reading, playing sports,and resolving conflicts.These skills will last
a lifetime
and be used every day —in school, at work,
and at home.
They’re a vital part
of an education
that teaches the whole child.

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