What are Executive Function Skills?
EF skills are a group of mental skills which enable us to make decisions, focus, and reach goals. When students struggle to stay on top of responsibilities at school or home, there is often a need to support and develop executive functioning.
The ability to create and maintain systems to keep track of information or materials.
Planning & Prioritizing:
The ability to create a roadmap to reach a goal or to complete a task; to make decisions about what’s important to focus on and what’s not; and to break a big project down into doable chunks.
The ability to begin projects without undue procrastination, in an efficient or timely fashion.
The capacity to maintain attention despite distractibility, fatigue, or boredom.
The capacity to estimate and allocate time to stay within time limits and meet deadlines.
The ability to hold information in memory while performing complex tasks.
The skill to adapt to changing conditions—flexibility allows students to revise plans in the face of obstacles, setbacks, new information or mistakes.
The capacity to have a goal, follow it through completion, and not be derailed by distractions or competing interests. A student with this skill can complete projects and homework.
Ability to make conscious choices in stressful situations:
The capacity to think before you act – the ability to resist the urge to say or do something in the moment, instead allowing time to evaluate a situation and how our behavior might impact it.
The ability to function in stressful situations and to cope with uncertainty, change, and performance demands.
Self-monitoring and self-evaluative skills such as asking yourself questions such as: “How am I doing?” “How did I do?” and the ability to incorporate this awareness into one’s future approach.
Emotional Control: Managing emotions to achieve goals, complete tasks, or control behavior. This might look like the ability to recover from disappointment or to manage the anxiety of a game or test and still perform.
List adapted from Smart but Scattered Kids by Dr. Peg Dawson and Dr. Richard Guare