Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What's Your Child's EF?

When it comes to parenting there are a lot of different words, terms and acronyms that we learn all about. Recently I read an article all about EF. This was a new one for me. EF stands for executive function. EF is all about the ability to regulate emotions, organize thoughts, setting goals, paying attention and resisting impulses. These are all things that as adults many of us have, but our kids can sometimes lack these things. Basically it is what allows us to focus and work.

Obviously kids are not born with EF, it is something that develops over time. In certain types of disorders like autism and ADHD the EF is impaired. When a child has an impaired EF they have trouble with self-control and attention. There are also many cases where a child does not have any kind of disorder and scores high on intelligence exams and yet lacks EF. Without the executive function kids find it difficult to concentrate on a given task like homework.

I have found with my 9 year old that she has a hard time getting to work on things she has to do. She has this "It's not fun" mentality and sometimes just shuts down when it comes to things like school work. Reading about EF made me realize that she is still developing her executive function and this is something that as a parent I need to help her with. So off to the internet I go!

Some ways to help improve EF skills are...

  • Stick to a routine. Starting homework at the same time everyday instead of waiting until your child feels like it. 
  • Enforce clean-up time to help keep a clean an organized space.
  • Set time limits for activities or break down tasks in time increments. 
  • Have you child use a day planner to help to teach organization and time management.
  • Checklists for things that need to get done during the day or for a big project.
  • Games that involve tracking, memorizing, and matching.
  • Music or dance lessons can help with attention and memorization. 
  • Puzzles like word searches, crosswords and even sudoku can help with attention. 

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