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Executive Function: Elementary Classroom

Executive Function: Elementary Classroom
Sandra Rief
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Executive function (EF) skills in young children are linked to school achievement and social-emotional development, making EF skill building vitally important for all students in elementary school. Educators need to have a clear understanding of executive function and the impact of EF deficits on student performance so that they can detect and address EF weaknesses as early as possible, thereby better preparing students for the transition to middle school. This reference guide provides practical strategies to support and strengthen the developing EF skills of all elementary students, as well as key scaffolds and accommodations that help students with ADHD and others with EF impairments (learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder) succeed in school and beyond.

Teachers will learn about the various performance difficulties and academic challenges executive function weaknesses can cause in the areas of:

  • Controlled attention
  • Self-control and inhibition
  • Handing negative emotions
  • Memory and forgetfulness
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Time awareness & time management
  • Work production
  • Homework, independent classwork
  • Organization
  • Planning and follow-through
  • Work production
  • Homework, independent classwork
  • Detail orientation and accuracy
  • Processing speed
  • Social skills
  • Reading comprehension
  • Written expression
  • Mathematical problem solving

The guide lists numerous specific strategies to help strengthen the following executive function skills:

  • Inhibition
  • Working memory
  • Planning
  • Sustained focus and attention
  • Organization
  • Activation/initiation
  • Time Management
  • Shifting/flexibility
  • Self-monitoring and metacognition
  • Emotional control

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