What Is…Executive Function?

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Executive function is a set of mental processes that helps connect past experience with present action. People use it to perform activities such as:

  • planning,
  • organizing,
  • strategizing,
  • paying attention to and remembering details, and
  • managing time and space.

How Does Executive Function Affect Learning?

In school, at home or in the workplace, we’re called on all day, every day, to self-regulate behavior. Executive function allows us to:

  • Make plans
  • Keep track of time and finish work on time
  • Keep track of more than one thing at once
  • Meaningfully include past knowledge in discussions
  • Evaluate ideas and reflect on our work
  • Change our minds and make mid-course corrections while thinking, reading and writing
  • Ask for help or seek more information when we need it
  • Engage in group dynamics
  • Wait to speak until we’re called on

What Are the Warning Signs of Executive Function Problems?

A student may have problems with executive function when he or she has trouble:

  • Planning projects
  • Comprehending how much time a project will take to complete
  • Telling stories (verbally or in writing), struggling to communicate details in an organized, sequential manner
  • Memorizing and retrieving information from memory
  • Initiating activities or tasks, or generating ideas independently
  • Retaining information while doing something with it, for example, remembering a phone number while dialing

Source: http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/executive-function-disorders/what-is-executive-function

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