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Executive Functioning

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Educational jargon is often overwhelming as well as always changing! And the education world will often borrow terms from the medical world but use them to mean just a slightly different thing. So, what is executive functioning?

There isn't exact agreement even among neurologist on exactly how to quantify executive functions but they usually include the following ten categories of human behavior.

Emotional Control Organization

Flexibility/Shifting Tasks Time Management

Attention Goal Directed Persistence

Response Inhibition Task Initiation

Meta-cognition (monitoring our own thinking) Planning/Prioritization

If you are human, you probably struggle with one or two of the above. :) But doctors will diagnose a problem with executive functioning if several of these areas become so challenging that it impacts someone's ability to function (or gets in the way of doing the things you want or have to do).

All of the areas of executive functioning are important to learning, but some of the above areas are more likely to be an educational focus than others; Attention, Organization, Time Management, Goal Setting, and Planning or Prioritization. So if a teacher says your child has some executive functioning issues, they are most likely talking about these areas. But if they don't give you specifics, always ask! This is a large category of behaviors and you need them to be specific.

When someone offers Academic Coaching they mean they focus on improving educational executive functioning behaviors.

College female studying with computer in library with bright sun behind her

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