Executive functioning skills are in everything that we do. They include our ability to have self-control, develop a plan, manage our time, begin an assignment, remember important information, and persevere through a challenging task. Executive functioning skills are definitely academic skills, but they are also life skills. Kids and young adults need plenty of practice and instruction with executive functioning skills to succeed in their daily lives.
Here are five simple ways you can teach executive functioning skills with kids and young adults using task cards:
1. Set up class centers for each executive functioning skill. Allow small groups to walk around and work at the center until time is up. Then, they can move on to the next executive functioning center. This will help kids and young adults develop an appreciation and understanding for each individual executive functioning skill.
2. Group students up to discuss the task cards. Each group can focus on one particular executive functioning skill. Have the group then share out what they learned about the skill. You can choose whether the groups share their thoughts on paper or just aloud to the class as a whole.
3. Allow students to pick a card and random and discuss in a small group. Let the students run the group discussion. Remember that it’s okay if students have different opinions on each card. Let your students talk it out and provide reasons to back up their opinions.
4. Have students independently read a card and respond in their journal on their own. After writing their response, give students time to discuss the card and share their response with a partner. Give students time to go back and reflect upon their response, including identifying if there is anything new they learned from their partner.
5. Use a card each morning as part of a guided class or small group discussion. This can also be part of a morning meeting. Starting the day with a positive intention can help pave the way for a great day.
To get started teaching executive functioning skills with task cards you can make your own or consider these Executive Functioning Task Cards. They are a set of 160 task cards that focus on all areas of executive functioning skills: planning, time management, working memory, self control, flexibility, organization, task initiation, metacognition, attention, and perseverance. A page explaining each skill is also included to make teaching executive functioning skills simple and easy.
The cards can be helpful for a range of professionals, including regular education teachers, guidance counselors, special education teachers, 504 coordinators, tutors, school psychologists, and mentors. These materials can also be used during advisory for middle and high school students.
You really can start teaching executive functioning skills anytime. The best time to start is now so that kids and young adults can learn to use these skills independently for the future.