What is Executive Functioning?
Executive functioning is the name for the constellation of skills / behaviors that you enlist to plan and reach a goal. When they are activated, they support you in doing what you need to do, when you need to do it!
Homework, a multistepped (and therefore, complex) task, is a testing ground for executive functioning skills. When executive functioning is weak, students have difficulty independently structuring their time, space and materials. As a result, homework may not get done without adult structure and direction. The H2O / Homework Organizer helps structure kids with a predictable and consistent system until planning, doing and handing in homework becomes a habit!
The major functions of executive skills are widely viewed to include:
Plan / Organize: Can you plan and organize your time, materials, information and procedures efficiently and effectively to get the job done?
Initiate: Can you start a task—that is, know where to start and know what to do next?
Working Memory: Can you remember what you need to remember to do the task, as you are doing it?
Sustain: Can you keep yourself on track and sustain your attention and effort through to its completion?
Inhibit: Are you able to contain your desire / impulse to do something else so that you can stay focused on the task at hand?
Monitor / Evaluate: Are you mindful of what you are doing as you are doing it so that you recognize if / when you need to make a change?
Shift / Transition: If something changes, can you be flexible enough to change gears or alter your approach?
Executive functioning is, in a nutshell, the “network coordinator” of your brain, connecting all the brain’s resources to meet a goal. It is what directs you to be self-reliant and self-directing so that you can complete a task efficiently and effectively. It is what keeps you focused on the goal and moving toward it without getting sidetracked. All complex (multistepped) tasks require it until they become so routine that they don’t require thinking!