Does your child demonstrate difficulty with impulse control, getting organized, remembering directions, or completing daily tasks? These are related to executive function skills, which play a significant role in our daily lives. These are not skills that are innate. These skills develop throughout childhood as we learn and play. 

Executive function includes two ‘types’ of skills: cognition and behavior. Cognition (thinking) skills are related to planning, organization, time management, and self-monitoring. Behavior (doing) skills relate to response inhibition, emotional control, sustained attention, task initiation, and flexibility.

Below are some fun ways to work on executive function skills with your children: 

  • Use early childhood activities like sorting games, copying block structures, Simon Says, Freeze Dance, and Red Light-Green Light.
  • Play games with patterns, sequences, and memorization (i.e. obstacle courses, memory games, Bop It). 
  • Include them in cooking/ baking activities, including gathering the supplies.
  • Have the child help make a grocery list and go shopping.
  • Reverse roles and have the child teach the steps of the activity/game.
  • Use the “chunking” strategy to group similar steps together, making it more manageable.
  • Use visual aids like schedules, checklists, video modeling, etc.
  • Play turn-taking games such as Connect Four, Jenga, and UNO.
  • Model flexible thinking during unexpected situations or changes in routines.
  • Ask children to make predictions & evaluate their own performance.
  • Solve hidden-picture activities (Highlights magazine has them, or you can search “free printable hidden picture activities” online).
  • Yoga (there are a lot of free children yoga YouTube videos online)
  • Mazes (available for free online)

Written by Brittany Becvar M.S. CCC-SLP and Brianne Griffin, MOT, OTR/L