Executive Functioning and How Your Child Can Strengthen Theirs, Tampa Child Psychologist | Rice Psychology Group
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An Overview of Executive Functioning and How Your Child Can Strengthen Theirs

Struggling with Executive Functioning
The human brain is an amazing machine when it works well! My older son’s brain allows him to play high school baseball, stay on top of two AP classes, juggle daily homework, tests and projects from his other five classes, and even manage his few chores at home. My younger son, on the other hand, struggles with his regular-level classes in terms of both the actual learning and keeping track of his homework, remembering to hand it in (if he completes it), figuring out what he needs to study and making sure he has what he needs with him at any given time. I seriously think that if his head wasn’t attached…well, you know. When I was in high school, things were much different and nowhere near as tough. Nowadays, I honestly don’t know how so many kids make it all four years without pulling their hair out or giving up altogether.

Paying attention without trouble and organizing so many things are two things we’d all love to do. Contact us in Tampa today to find out how we can help you achieve this!

Executive Functions

Have you heard about Executive Functions? Well, the front of our brains, the part right behind our foreheads, is responsible for them. They are operating all the time, in the background, often without our conscious awareness and include planning, problem solving, prioritizing, organizing, thinking of strategies and monitoring our own behavior, emotions and thoughts. Some experts describe executive functions as working like a conductor in an orchestra functioning to allocate resources (attention) and coordinate the connections between thinking and behavior.

Some students who struggle with executive functions miss out on the internal voice to guide their thinking and behavior. Others don’t notice how their behavior affects those around them. Still, other kids have difficulty beginning assignments, produce written work that lacks organization, omit steps in a multi-step process; misplace books, homework and supplies; have messy desks or lockers; or have difficulty checking work for mistakes.

We are going to focus on attention and organization as they play crucial roles in learning and being successful at school and life. How strong your child’s skills are in these areas can make a huge difference in whether school is a breeze or an uphill battle. In this piece, we’ll be discussing different ways your kids can increase their executive functioning skills.

Attention

Think of attention as the foundation for life and learning. We must pay attention, on some level, to what we are doing, hearing, seeing or touching for it to register in our brains. Trying to learn without first harnessing attention is like building a house without first laying a stable foundation.

Think of attention as the foundation for life and learning. Click To Tweet

One of the things that can jeopardize attention is exhaustion. Make sure your kids get plenty of sleep since wanting nothing more than to lie in a soft bed to catch a nap is something that’ll have anyone distracted.

Another distraction is multitasking. If your tween or teen has a habit of doing their homework or studying while chatting with friends via text or Facebook, explain that while they may think they are doing two things at once, they are actually just switching back and forth, having to reorient themselves to their work each time they return to their assignment. It is physically impossible for any of us to read a text and social studies at the exact same time – our eyes can only be looking at one thing at a time! If they want to get their homework done sooner and prepare for tests better, monotasking is the way to go!

One of the things that can jeopardize attention is exhaustion. Click To Tweet

Organization

Organizing time to help with academics is a skill every teen should master. Insist that your child use a planner, organizer and/or calendar – either paper and pencil or smartphone/computer based. If school hasn’t taught them how to use one or doesn’t hold them accountable – give it your best try! In their planner, they can keep track of which days they feel most comfortable studying for certain classes.

Organizing time to help with academics is a skill every teen should master. Click To Tweet

Maybe on Monday they can go over their biology notes, on Tuesday they can read a chapter for their literature class, on Wednesday they can start their report for American history, etc. By evenly distributing their time and dedicating certain days for certain subjects, it’ll prevent them from spending late hours with their nose in a book. Teach them to use reminders, timers, lists and alarms. Encourage them to get their belongings together at night so that mornings are less rushed with fewer of those last minute emergencies of “Mom, I can’t find my cleats!”

The same can go for sports. If your child has baseball practice on Wednesday but a test on Thursday, they can evenly distribute study times on Monday, Tuesday and maybe Wednesday morning. Organization and planning go hand in hand – but for many kids, these are skills that have to be modeled, taught and practiced.

Helping Your Kids as Best We Can

School can seem like a hectic journey for your kids, but it’s important to teach them that it doesn’t have to be difficult when they take the steps to make it easier. Executive functioning is something we’re very familiar with, and our team of psychologists will do its best to help your child handle their academics. Contact us in Tampa today to learn what else we can do for you.

About Rice Psychology

Rice Psychology Group is home to a team of psychologists who work tirelessly to help adults, adolescents and children deal with their issues. Whether you’re currently dealing with depression, going through a divorce or fighting an issue you just can’t understand, know that our Tampa psychologists are here to help.

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