Executive function is a very important aspect of development. It is our brain’s functions that we, as people, use to manage our emotions, attention, and our behavior in the pursuit of our goals. A child’s executive functions start to develop in their very early years but it doesn’t fully mature until early adulthood. Some scientists, psychologists, and researchers even say that executive functions in children are better predictors of a child’s success than IQ tests. Adele Diamond, a researcher, stated, “More and more evidence is showing that executive functions, such as working and inhibition, actually predict success better than IQ tests,”.
Since all of this research is saying that we can predict how well a child is going to succeed in school at an early age, let’s focus on preschool. Executive function consists of three parts. These parts are working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive/mental flexibility. In preschool aged children, an example of working memory would be the child’s ability to remember what happened at the beginning of the story by the time the story was finished. The child is able to hold information for short periods of time.
An example of inhibitory control in preschool aged children would be not stealing a toy from a classmate. The child is able to control their responses and act appropriately. Lastly, and example of cognitive/mental flexibility in preschoolers would be a child’s ability to go outside from inside. The child is able to transition between opposite tasks. If a child is able to do all of this, their executive function is developing regularly. If a child doesn’t have good executive function, they may have disorders such as ADHD or autism.
Typically with these disorders, the executive function is impaired in some way or form. When a child’s executive function is impaired it is also linked with other types of behavioral disorders. These disorders include limited self-control, lack or restraint, addiction, and failure to consider future consequences. When a child doesn’t have good executive function, it is nearly impossible for them to plan ahead and be organized for their responsibilities. They feel little motivation to do boring tasks such as studying for tests or doing homework.
They fail to see the positive future rewards these things can bring to them. There are many ways parents, teachers, and other influences in a child’s life can help a child use their executive function to its potential. Sometimes all a child needs is help with time management, and educators and tutors can help them with this. They can help the child make checklists, organizers, to-do lists, etc. that can help keep them organized. Routine is hugely important in a child’s life, they love to have a stable and set routine. As for teachers, classroom management is very important.
Teachers should dedicate themselves to use the finest practices and patience when dealing with their children in their classroom. There are always ways to help the children who have fallen behind with their executive functions, especially if it’s caught in an early way. The ability to recognize this is crucial. If an adult waits too long to address these skills, the more the child falls behind in school, the more lack of success their school career overall. Patience and understanding is key, and the desire to help all children achieve the best with their executive functions!