Getting started on an assignment or a classroom project is an executive function skill, author and former classroom teacher Chris A. Zeigler Dendy says.
“It’s not that the child doesn’t want to get started; it’s that they have trouble getting started,” Ms. Dendy says. “They have trouble finishing. They have difficulty planning ahead. They have difficulty organizing things.”
Executive function refers to the brain’s ability to activate, organize, integrate, and manage other functions or activities. It also allows people to make real-time evaluations of their actions and make necessary adjustments if those actions are not achieving the desired result. In school, it helps to regulate a student’s actions in the classroom.
ADHD impairs a student’s executive function skills, leading to academic struggles. Students have difficulty staying on task explaining the information they’ve learned.
“The most interesting executive [function] skill is self-talk,” Ms. Dendy says, explaining this is the internal dialogue that guides a person through the steps needed for any task or learning activity at hand. “Their self-talk is delayed and less mature [than their peers]. We don’t want them to feel stupid because their brain is still maturing.”
Interested in learning more about your students’ executive functioning skills and how you can help? Watch Executive Functions in the Classroom.
Or, you can watch more videos in our Tips for Teachers series and related videos.