How to Improve Executive Function

Executive functioning resources
Here, you will find a variety of information on executive functioning. These are resources curated from around the internet designed to improve executive function. I wanted to create a space that has information on executive functioning skills that can be accessed all in one place. It is my hope that this space is one where you can find strategies and tools for addressing problems with attention, organization, task initiation, planning, prioritization, and many other mental skills that cause so many individuals to struggle. Use these tools, tips, and information to work on executive functioning by starting at the beginning!

Wondering how to improve executive function? Here are 20 online resources for understanding executive functioning skills.
Improve executive function skills in kids or adults with these strategies and tips.

If you’ve noticed anything about The OT Toolbox, it may be that I love to share a lot of tools and resources that can help parents, teachers, and of course, occupational therapists. The information in this post are resources and tools that I share on one of our Facebook pages, Executive Functioning Toolbox. Some readers who do not have access to Facebook have asked for access to this collection of information. It’s my hope that THIS can be an executive function toolbox!

Here are strategies to help the adult with executive function disorder. Many of these tips and strategies are great for teens as well.

How to Improve Executive Function

Free email course on executive functioning skills
1. First, you may want to sign up for our free Executive Functioning Skills Email Course, if you haven’t already. Over the course of 5 days, we’ll cover everything from what executive function means, to the “why” behind actions, and things that may be occurring beneath the surface in the individual with executive function disorder or simply challenges with one or more of the mental skills. You’ll also get great tips and strategies to work on executive functioning skills, too. 
Read more about what you’ll learn and sign up for the free executive functioning course here.
Use these resources to improve executive function in kids and adults.

More information and tools you can use to improve executive function:

2. There are many benefits to having kids with attention or learning challenges participate in martial arts. Here’s why martial arts can help kids with attention problems
3. Inhibition is a big part of executive functioning skills that play into many other EF skill areas like planning, prioritization, task initiation, perseverance, and more. Here are some Impulse Control Strategies.
4. Here is a self-test to help determine if you or someone else has an executive function disorder. 
5. Foresight, or the ability to think ahead, is a big part of executive functioning. This skill works together with working memory, and other skills to allow us to problem solve, plan, and prioritize tasks. Here is more on foresight and activities and games to improve foresight.

6. “Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.” Here is more information on executive function and self-regulation.

7. Here are 9 Best Apps and Sites to Improve Executive Function– These can be a helpful tool for so many!

8. Looking to add items to your child’s holiday gift list that serve a purpose? Keep these games in mind when choosing gifts for a child who struggles with executive functioning skills. 

9. An introduction to working memory: “Compared to short-term memory, working memory plays a more influential role in students’ academic performance. This is because many academic tasks involve multiple steps with intermediate solutions, and students need to remember those intermediate solutions as they proceed through the tasks. Examples of working memory tasks could include holding a person’s address in mind while listening to instructions about how to get there, or listening to a sequence of events in a story while trying to understand what the story means. In mathematics, a working memory task could involve keeping a formula in mind while at the same time using the formula to solve a math problem.”
10. Understanding what it’s like to have executive function disorder: “It only took three-and-a-half minutes of simulated executive functioning issues to bring me to tears of frustration. It still makes me panicky to think about it.”
11. This site has much information, resources, articles, and tools for addressing executive functioning skills and needs in these mental skill areas.
12. Does a lack of executive function explain why some kids fall way behind in school? This report discusses the idea.
13. Here is general info on EF skills, anatomy of executive functioning, and a quick list of instruments used to assess executive behavior.
14. What is executive function disorder, and how is it different than ADHD? Here is a nice explanation.
15. Here is an assessment of Sensory Processing and Executive Functions in Childhood..
16. Want to understand more? This article is informative: “There’s no diagnosis called executive function disorder. You won’t find it in the DSM-5, the manual clinicians use to diagnose conditions. But you can still identify weaknesses in executive function by having your child evaluated.
Executive function is complex, so it can be tricky to evaluate. But there are specific tests that look at a wide range of skills that are involved in executive function. These skills include…”

17. Wondering how executive functioning skills develop through childhood?

18. Need ideas to work on  EF skills? Here are a few completely free and no-prep games that build executive functioning skills: “Parents who want to stimulate their children’s brain development often focus on things like early reading, flashcards and language tapes. But a growing body of research suggests that playing certain kinds of childhood games may be the best way to increase a child’s ability to do well in school. Variations on games like Freeze Tag and Simon Says require relatively high
levels of executive function, testing a child’s ability to pay attention, remember rules and exhibit self ­control — qualities that also predict academic success.”

19. Need creative ways to address executive function weaknesses? This bundle of card games are helpful for improving working memory, attention to detail, response inhibition, sustained attention and mental shifting.Get a set here (affiliate link).

20. Looking for more information on executive functioning skills? Here is all of the executive functioning skills items on this website that can help.

21. Finally, here are more executive function resources.

Stay tuned for more tools being added to this page all the time.

These executive function resources can help improve skills like working memory, attention, and other executive functioning skills.

What You Need to Know About Depth Perception

Depth perception information and activities

Depth perception is a pretty amazing thing. It allows us to see the world in three dimensions; for us to crawl, navigate stairs, play catch with a ball, drive and many more activities. But what happens if our depth perception is impaired? These activities become exponentially more difficult, and may be even impossible. Read more about visual problems here.

Need information on depth perception? This visual skill is important for reading, moving, and completing tasks. This article explains what depth perception is and how to improve this visual skill.

 

What is Depth Perception?

Depth perception is a visual processing skill that allows us to perceive visual input in multiple dimensions. The American Academy of Ophthalmology describes depth perception as the ability to see things in three dimensions (including length, width and depth), and to judge how far away an object is. Read here for more information to understand this visual skill

When Does Depth Perception Develop? 

We are not born with the ability to perceive depth. In the beginning, we are only able to see two dimensions, making everything appear flat, for the first 6 months of life. During this time, our eyes are not yet working together and monocular vision is predominant. 


Around 6 months of age, our eyes begin to work together, and binocular vision, the use of the eyes together, becomes a dominant pattern.  Binocular vision patterns is what allows our brains to perceive depth and view the world in a three dimensional way.  This is because both sides of the brain are receiving input, and interpreting that information in synchrony. 


However, our depth perception must grow and develop over time as new challenges are presented.


As we move through gross motor development from rolling, to sitting, crawling and walking, our depth perception and binocular vision is constantly challenged to meet our gross motor needs. 


As the left and right sides of the brain begin to strengthen communication through the reciprocal motor patterns of crawling and walking, our binocular vision, neck strength and neck control is also then indirectly developed. 

Impact of Impaired Depth Perception

Impaired depth perception can leave a child with significant challenges in life. Individuals with impaired depth perception may struggle with sports, navigating familiar and unfamiliar spaces, and may even struggle with driving. These are just a few areas that may be impacted, but in reality, all areas of a person’s life are affected by impaired depth perception. 

Signs of Impaired Depth Perception

The signs of impaired depth perception are often very subtle and may be missed at a young age or passed off as “slow” to develop, with serious concerns being caught at an older age. 


Signs of impaired depth perception include: 


 Late to crawl or walk 
 Hesitancy or fear of surface changes 
 Resistance to going up and down stairs 
 Exaggerated stepping over lines in the floor or parking lot
 Frequent falling 
 Inability to catch/hit a ball—early anticipation or late response 
 Runs into furniture, walls or items in a familiar environment that have not changed position 
 Difficulty anticipating turns or space needed to navigate playground equipment and use ride on toys 
 Overshoot or undershoot when reaching for an item 
 Heavy footsteps or stomping up down stairs and over items/changes in floor surface 
 Frequent falling up or down stairs

How is Depth Perception Assessed? 

Due to the complexity of monocular and binocular vision, your therapist may recommend an evaluation with a developmental optometrist if they note any of the signs of depth perception impairment above. Chances are that your therapist has also noted other vision concerns during a vision screening that has lead them to suspect poor or impaired depth perception. 

Depth Perception Treatment

Depth perception impairments are treated in vision therapy as directed by a developmental optometrist or an occupational therapist with special training in vision therapy. Treatments provided by either professional utilize special equipment, lenses and activities that challenge binocular vision directly. 

Final Note on Depth Perception

Poor or impaired depth perception can be identified and addressed at any time throughout childhood. Like many vision impairments, there are a wide variety of presentations and levels of severity in which your child may present with. If left unaddressed, your child may continue to struggle with self care, sports, driving, and many other tasks later in life. If you have concerns, ask your OT for a vision screening and to discuss your concerns. 

What if you suspect vision problems?

Now what?  When vision problems are suspected after a screening by the OT, it is best practice to refer the family to a developmental optometrist.


A developmental optometrist will complete a full evaluation and determine the need for corrective lenses, vision therapy or a home program to address vision concerns.


As occupational therapists, it is imperative that we rule out vision problems before treating handwriting or delays in visual motor integration, to ensure the best possible trajectory of development and success for the child.

Occupational Therapy Vision Screening Tool

Occupational Therapists screen for visual problems in order to determine how they may impact functional tasks. Our newest Visual Screening Tool is a useful resource or identifying visual impairments. Visual screening can occur in the classroom setting, in inpatient settings, in outpatient therapy, and in early intervention or home care.
This visual screening tool was created by an occupational therapist and provides information on visual terms, frequently asked questions regarding visual problems, a variety of visual screening techniques, and other tools that therapists will find valuable in visual screenings.
This is a digital file. Upon purchase, you will be able to download the 10 page file and print off to use over and over again in vision screenings and in educating therapists, teachers, parents, and other child advocates or caregivers.
A little about Kaylee: 
Hi Everyone! I am originally from Upstate N.Y., but now live in Texas, and am the Lead OTR in a pediatric clinic. I have a bachelors in Health Science from Syracuse University at Utica College, and a Masters in Occupational Therapy from Utica College. I have been working with children with special needs for 8 years, and practicing occupational therapy for 4 years. I practice primarily in a private clinic, but have experience with Medicaid and home health settings also. Feeding is a skill that I learned by default in my current position and have come to love and be knowledgeable in. Visual development and motor integration is another area of practice that I frequently address and see with my current population. Looking forward to sharing my knowledge with you all! ~Kaylee Goodrich, OTR

Wondering what is depth perception? This article explains information about depth perception and includes strategies to help with visual processing skills.

Classroom Accommodations for Visual Impairments

Visual Impairments such as convergence insufficiency, impaired visual saccades, or other visual problems like blurred vision can present as a problem in the classroom. Students with visual impairments will flourish with effective classroom accommodations for visual problems. Below, you will find strategies that school-based occupational therapists can use as accommodations for addressing visual needs while meeting educational goals.

These classroom accommodations are strategies to accomodate for visual impairments that limit learning or interfere with classroom participation.

Visual Impairment Accommodations for the Classroom

The fact is, vision impacts learning. When visual problems exist, it can be be helpful to next address what to do about those problems to maximize learning. Often times when vision is discussed as a concern, a parent or caregiver may push back saying that the child has had their vision checked, and that they can see fine. Despite education, and handouts, the parent still resists getting a more in-depth vision evaluation for their child. Now what? Good news is that there are some accommodations that can be made in the classroom to assist the child. These strategies are also great for kiddo’s who already have glasses but are still struggling.

What are accommodations for visual problems?

Accommodations are strategies set forth that allow a student to change the method of how learning happens. Accommodations for visual problems can address visual needs through changes in seating, presentation of visual information, test information, or classroom activities without modifying what is tested, completed, or taught.

The visual accommodations listed below are means for addressing visual problems without changing classroom expectations for learning.

Preferential Seating

Preferential seating means a lot of different things to every professional. Typically, it mean that the kiddo is placed at the front of the room, closest to the teacher where they can receive an increased level of support from the teacher. However, this is not necessarily the best for a child with vision deficits. There are a few keys points to preferential seating for kiddos with vision deficits that should be considered.

● Proximity to the board
● Direction in which the child is facing in relation to the board or main work area
● Level of visual distractions around the room including posters, boards and other children
● Is the goal of seat work and need for use of board to achieve completion of work?

Proximity to the Board

Being closest to the board is not necessarily the best position for a child facing vision challenges particularly if they are not acuity based in nature.

For instance, a child that is struggling with saccades and tracking may not succeed in a front and center position. This would challenge their eyes constantly to look in all directions for information. A better position for them would be to the left or to the right in the first 2-3 rows. This would limit the amount of tracking to either side that would need to be completed.

This position would also benefit a child with who struggles with filtering visual information and needs information to be limited on one side.

When recommending a seat based on proximity to the board, it is important to think about what challenges the kiddo is facing visually and to recommend a seat that promotes success.

Face the Front

Is the Child Facing the Board?

There are a lot of classroom set-ups these days that have children not facing the board or at an awkward angle. This is okay if the child is not expected to copy work from the board or utilize information from the main learning space.

When it doesn’t work, is when the child needs to utilize this information. It is best to have the child facing the board straight on or with a slight angle if they are not seated in the center. Limit turning of the head over 45 degrees to prevent eye strain and an increased chance of the child losing their place when copying.

There are times that it is appropriate to have the child’s back to the board and main learning space. I will get to that in just a moment.

Reduced Visual Distractions

Limiting visual distractions and over stimulation is a large part in helping kids with visual deficits. If there is too much information in front of them or around them, they are more likely to get lost visually, leading to more time needed to complete tasks and increases in errors when copying or missing written steps.

This is one of the few times that it is okay to have a child’s back to the board or main work area. Especially, if the child does not need to see the main area. Typically, this is the case for lower levels of education such as kindergarten through second grade, or when the curriculum begins to focus on board directed teaching.

Other ways to limit visual distractions are to keep the main learning space clear of extraneous posters, charts or decorations, along with conscious choices for seating the child. Having the child’s back to busy walls and a large portion of their peers can be helpful.

Most people think that windows are distractions for kiddos, but for a child with vision deficits, sitting near or facing a window can give a much needed visual “break” from stimulation. So don’t rule out a window seat yet!

Use these visual impariment accommodations to help kids with vision problems flourish in the classroom.

Increased White Space

Worksheets can be very overwhelming for a child with a visual deficit. They may have a hard time reading a busy worksheet, completing a math worksheet or miss parts of multi-step directions.

One way to help avoid this is to provide increased white space. White space refers to the amount of blank or void areas on a piece of paper. The higher the amount of white space, they less likely a child with vision deficits is to struggle.

This means limiting the number of math problems on a page from 6 to 3 for example. Or utilizing the Handwriting Without Tears lined paper versus traditional triple lined paper.

Sometimes changing the handout or worksheet is not an option and other strategies need to be utilized. The use of an extra sheet of paper to block out extra information can be helpful in creating the white space that is needed.

Decreased Visual Distractions

I touched on this in preferential seating section in regards to the overall placement of the child in the room. However, visual distractions can also come from items in the child’s work space. Distractions may include name tags, behavior systems, letter lines, a peer across from them and even work to be completed. These visual distractions may cause the kiddo to feel visually unorganized leading to the appearance of sloppy work and poor time management, and even signs of anxiety.

One way to help eliminate visual distraction within the workspace is to limit what is on the child’s desk. Keep the kiddo’s work space limited to a name tag and one other item. If other items are needed on the desk or workspace, have them arranged so that they are not in the child’s direct line of sight while working.

For instance, crayon boxes and utensils may be shared at a table or grouping of students. Have the items place to the left or right of the child so that their direct line of sight is clear.

Also limit that amount of ‘work’ that is place in front of the kiddo. I say ‘work’ lightly as most ‘work’ for kids are worksheets and craft projects. By presenting one item at a time, it can help the child’s visual space remain clear and help them stay visually organized and on task.

Visual Structure for Reading and Writing

Sometimes limiting visual distractions is not enough support for visual organization. Sometimes, the child needs even more structure to support successful learning patterns and work completion.

One strategy is to provide the child with graph paper to write on. This is very structured and provides concrete boundaries for letter orientation, sizing, and spacing. It also provides visuals for completing math problems in straight lines.

Other forms of visual structure include colored lines to indicate top and bottom of the lines for writing, along with highlighted “spacer” lines for completion of longer work.

Color coding can also be a helpful tool in providing visual structure for older children. It be as general as a different colored folders/notebooks for each subject to allow the child to quickly scan and find what they need, to as complex as writing parts of a math equation in different colors. Or even going as far as to writing the parts of a paragraph in different colors.

Visual structure can be as simple, or as complex as it’s needed to be to meet the kiddo’s needs.

Use these classroom accommodations to help kids with visual problems succeed in the classroom.

Final Thoughts on Visual Impairment Accommodations

Each child is different and finding the right visual supports is a trial and error process that takes time and patience to work through. Evaluating the child’s weaknesses will help to determine the best supports and path for success in the classroom despite their visual challenges.

More resources that can help with understanding and advocating for visual impairments:

What is Visual Processing and Visual Efficiency?


Visual Saccades and Learning


What is Visual Tracking?


What is Convergence Insufficiency?

What if you suspect vision problems?

Now what?  When vision problems are suspected after a screening by the OT, it is best practice to refer the family to a developmental optometrist.


A developmental optometrist will complete a full evaluation and determine the need for corrective lenses, vision therapy or a home program to address vision concerns.


As occupational therapists, it is imperative that we rule out vision problems before treating handwriting or delays in visual motor integration, to ensure the best possible trajectory of development and success for the child.

Occupational Therapy Vision Screening Tool

Occupational Therapists screen for visual problems in order to determine how they may impact functional tasks. Our newest Visual Screening Tool is a useful resource or identifying visual impairments. Visual screening can occur in the classroom setting, in inpatient settings, in outpatient therapy, and in early intervention or home care.
This visual screening tool was created by an occupational therapist and provides information on visual terms, frequently asked questions regarding visual problems, a variety of visual screening techniques, and other tools that therapists will find valuable in visual screenings.
This is a digital file. Upon purchase, you will be able to download the 10 page file and print off to use over and over again in vision screenings and in educating therapists, teachers, parents, and other child advocates or caregivers.
A little about Kaylee: 
Hi Everyone! I am originally from Upstate N.Y., but now live in Texas, and am the Lead OTR in a pediatric clinic. I have a bachelors in Health Science from Syracuse University at Utica College, and a Masters in Occupational Therapy from Utica College. I have been working with children with special needs for 8 years, and practicing occupational therapy for 4 years. I practice primarily in a private clinic, but have experience with Medicaid and home health settings also. Feeding is a skill that I learned by default in my current position and have come to love and be knowledgeable in. Visual development and motor integration is another area of practice that I frequently address and see with my current population. Looking forward to sharing my knowledge with you all! ~Kaylee Goodrich, OTR
Visual accommodations like preferential seating, facing the board, and other visual accommodations can help a student with vision problems succeed in the classroom.

Executive Functioning Skills- Teach Planning and Prioritization

Planning and prioritization activities

We’ve been talking a lot about executive functioning skills here on The OT Toolbox recently. There’s a reason why: so many kids struggle with executive function disorder or just are challenged by sills that make up the executive functions. Planning and prioritizing tasks is a big concern for many kids who struggle. These skill areas are essential for initiating tasks and following through with projects.


Use these tips and strategies to teach planning skills and prioritization skills, two executive functioning skills needed for everyday tasks in the classroom and home.

How to teach Planning and Prioritization

We know the feeling of being stuck on a big project. It can be overwhelming when we are presented with a task so immense that we spin our wheels with fixing problems. Maybe a big house remodel or other multi-step project comes to mind. For our kids with executive functioning challenges, the smallest project or task can be overwhelming. Planning and prioritization are a big part of that.


In fact, many adults struggle with the skills of planning and prioritization, too. Recently, I’ve had many readers reach out in response to our free executive functioning skills email course. Several readers have indicated that much of the information applies to themselves (and adults) or other adults they know. Planning and prioritization are skills that can be difficult to establish well into adulthood. For the adult with executive functioning difficulties, these are common concerns and challenges. The information below can be a help to children, teens, and even adults.  


Here are strategies to help the adult with executive function disorder. Many of these tips and strategies are great for teens as well. 

planning and prioritization Problems

You’ve probably seen the child that:

  • Can’t get started on homework
  • Has trouble figuring out how to start a big assignment like a book report
  • Starts a project but then never finishes because they struggle with the steps
  • Has difficulty remembering and completing all of the steps to when getting dressed and ready for the day
  • Can’t figure out the most important assignments to complete first
  • Has trouble when there are more than a few items on a “to-do” list
  • Can’t sequence a project visually or verbally
  • Has trouble looking at the “big picture”
  • Can’t figure out how to find the important items when cleaning out a messy desk
  • Overwhelmed when planning out the day



The activities listed below can help with the executive functioning skills of planning and prioritization:


Prioritization is another complex executive functioning skill that, when achieved, provides kids with the ability to achieve goals. Deciding on steps of a process and thinking through that process to work toward the most important tasks is a difficult skill for many kids.


When prioritization is difficult for a person, getting every day tasks like getting dressed, completing homework, or multi-step tasks can be nearly impossible.


Prioritization allows us to make decisions about what is important so we can know what to focus on and what’s not as important. Being able to discern tasks that are necessary from those that we should do is crucial.


Prioritization is a critical skill to have, but can take some practice to achieve. Try the activities listed below to support development of this skill.

Activities to Teach Prioritization



Provide opportunities to practice prioritizing by planning simple tasks. Talk about how to build a snowman, how to make a bed, and other tasks they are familiar with.


Discuss the most important steps of tasks. What must be done before any other step can be done.


Show kids photos, and ask for their opinions about what they found to be the most important detail or big idea.


Make to-do lists to help kids plan and prioritize. Once you have everything written down, then rank tasks in order of importance.


Make a list of assignments with due dates. Highlight the things that must be done first.


Create a calendar and schedule.


Create a daily task list. Check off items as they are completed.


Try easy projects. If something seems to “big”, break it down into smaller steps. 

How to Teach Planning

Planning is an executive functioning skill that refers to the ability to create a plan or a roadmap to reach a goal. Completing tasks requires the ability to have a mental plan in place so that things get done.


Planning and prioritization are EF skills that are closely related. Additionally, skills like foresight, working memory, and organization enable successful planning.


Planning can be a stumbling block for many with executive functioning challenges. Try the activities below to support the ability to plan out tasks:


Draw out plans. The drawing prompts in the Impulse Control Journal can be a great exercise in using drawing to work on real skills and goals with kids.


Teach kids to create a mind map to plan out a multiple step project.


Teach kids to create lists. Using sticky notes can make planning easier and allow kids to physically move tasks to a “done” pile as they are completed.


Plan a simple task like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Ask kids to write out the steps then check them off as they are completed.

Take planning and prioritization a step farther

Want to really take executive function skills like planning and prioritization to the next level of success? The Impulse Control Journal is your guide to addressing the underlying skills that play into trouble with planning and prioritization. 


The journal is an 80 page collection of worksheets and prompts to discover what’s really going on behind executive functioning skills like planning, organization, prioritization, working memory, and of course, impulse control. 


While the guide was developed for students of all ages, this printable workbook is perfect for adults, too. It can help you discover strategies that make a real impact for all of the skills needed to get things done. 


Here’s the thing; Everyone is SO different when it comes to struggles related to executive functioning and everyone’s interests, needs, challenges, strengths, and weaknesses are different too. All of these areas play into the challenges we see on the surface. And, this is where the Impulse Control Journal really hits those strengths, weaknesses, and challenges where it matters…in creating a plan that really works for kids of all ages (and adults, too!)


Check out the Impulse Control Journal, and grab it before the end of February, because you’ll get a bonus packet of Coping Cards while the journal is at it’s lowest price. 


The Impulse Control Journal has been totally revamped to include 79 pages of tools to address the habits, mindset, routines, and strategies to address impulse control in kids. 
 
More about the Impulse Control Journal:
  • 30 Drawing Journal Pages to reflect and pinpoint individual strategies 
  • 28 Journal Lists so kids can write quick checklists regarding strengths, qualities, supports, areas of need, and insights 
  • 8 Journaling worksheets to pinpoint coping skills, feelings, emotions, and strategies that work for the individual 
  • Daily and Weekly tracking sheets for keeping track of tasks and goals 
  • Mindset, Vision, and Habit pages for helping kids make an impact
  • Self-evaluation sheets to self-reflect and identify when inhibition is hard and what choices look like 
  • Daily tracker pages so your child can keep track of their day 
  • Task lists to monitor chores and daily tasks so it gets done everyday  
  • Journal pages to help improve new habits  
  • Charts and guides for monitoring impulse control so your child can improve their self confidence
  • Strategy journal pages to help kids use self-reflection and self-regulation so they can succeed at home and in the classroom  
  • Goal sheets for setting goals and working to meet those goals while improving persistence  
  • Tools for improving mindset to help kids create a set of coping strategies that work for their needs  
  
This is a HUGE digital resource that you can download and print to use over and over again.  
 

 

Fun Mindfulness Activities

Here, you will find fun mindfulness activities to help kids with creative mindfulness exercises that can help kids feel better, reduce stress, address anxiety, and have a greater awareness of their body and mind. Mindfulness activities for kids can be used as a self-regulation tool or a coping strategy. The sky’s the limit!


Looking for more ways to teach mindfulness? Here are winter themed mindfulness activities that kids will love. 

These FUN Mindfulness activities are helpful self-regulation tools for kids.


Fun Mindfulness Activities



First, let’s talk about what mindfulness means.

Mindfulness activities for kids can help kids with attention coping, learning, self-regulation, and more!

What is mindfulness?



Mindfulness is the ability to bring your attention to the events happening in the moment. It allows us to carefully observe our thoughts and feeling, to develop a sense of self awareness.  Mindfulness can be done anywhere. It does not require special equipment. It can be as easy as sitting and thinking or visualizing a place in your mind.

Who is mindfulness good for?



Mindfulness is great for any age, including kids. School can be a very overwhelming experience with expectations, rules, noises, crowds. Being able to do fun mindfulness activities can be a good way for children to self-regulate, focus and feel better emotionally and physically. Learning how to self-regulate (being able to manage your own emotions) is an important skill to learn at a young age.


Mindfulness is a helpful tool in addressing executive functioning skills needs in kids.


Mindfulness activities for kids



Listed below are some easy, beginning mindfulness activities to try with kids.
Looking for more ideas? Here are some mindfulness videos on YouTube.

Mindfulness Activity #1: Mindful Breathing- 

Taking deep breaths is so important in relaxation it brings awareness to your body. There are many different ways to teach kids to take deep breaths and then blow out. Using a pinwheel, blowing bubbles, blowing out candles, picturing a balloon opening and closing with breath. Even having your child breath in while you count to 5 and then breath out.

Mindfulness Activity #2: Body Scan- 

Have your child lay on his/her back. Tell them to tense up all muscles from head to toe and hold for 10-15 seconds. Then have them release and relax, ask them how they feel. This exercise helps kids to recognize how their body is feeling in a tense vs. Calm state.

Mindfulness Activity #3: Visualization or Guided Imagery–

This is a relaxation technique that is used to promote positive mental images. You can find guided imagery scripts online, pertaining to many different subjects from nature to emotions. Start by having your child close their eyes, while seated or lying down. Slowly read the script and have them visualize the image in their minds, then have them draw a picture of that place and keep it in their desk or at home as a reference to a calm place for them.

Mindfulness Activity #4: Take a Walk- 

Being outside and taking a walk is a great way for your child to be present in the moment. Point out the different sounds heard from birds chirping to leaves rustling. Notice the smell of the fresh cut grass or flowers. Feel the different textures of sand and rocks. Notice the sun, wind and clouds. Bring a blanket and lay on the grass, look up at the trees, look at the clouds.   Walk over to a pound and listen for frogs, look for fish and throw rocks in to make a splash.

Mindfulness Activity # 5: Stretching/Yoga- 

Taking deep breaths and stretching can be a very calming and teaches you to be aware of how your body is feeling.  Turn the lights down, put on relaxing music and help guide your child through bedtime relaxation stretches for kids.


Use these mindfulness strategies for kids as a coping strategy, to help with attention in the classroom, to impact learning, or to address self-regulation needs. What’s very cool is that each awareness activity could be themed to fit classroom or homeschool lessons, the curriculum, or seasons. Make these mindfulness activities fit the needs of your classroom, clients, and kids!


Mindfulness is a coping strategy used in The Impulse Control Journal.

The Impulse control journal is a printable journal for kids that helps them to identify goals, assess successes, and address areas of needs. The Impulse Control Journal is a printable packet of sheets that help kids with impulse control needs.

Read more about The Impulse Control Journal HERE.

The Impulse Control Journal has been totally revamped to include 79 pages of tools to address the habits, mindst, routines, and strategies to address impulse control in kids.

More about the Impulse Control Journal:

  • 30 Drawing Journal Pages to reflect and pinpoint individual strategies
  • 28 Journal Lists so kids can write quick checklists regarding strengths, qualities, supports, areas of need, and insights
  • 8 Journaling worksheets to pinpoint coping skills, feelings, emotions, and strategies that work for the individual
  • Daily and Weekly tracking sheets for keeping track of tasks and goals
  • Mindset,Vision, and Habit pages for helping kids make an impact
  • Self-evaluation sheets to self-reflect and identify when inhibition is hard and what choices look like
  • Daily tracker pages so your child can keep track of their day
  • Task lists to monitor chores and daily tasks so it gets done everyday
  • Journal pages to help improve new habits
  • Charts and guides for monitoring impulse control so your child can improve their self-confidence
  • Strategy journal pages to help kids use self-reflection and self-regulation so they can succeed at home and in the classroom
  • Goal sheets for setting goals and working to meet those goals while improving persistence
  • Tools for improving mindset to help kids create a set of coping strategies that work for their needs
This is a HUGE digital resource that you can download and print to use over and over again.  







These fun mindfulness activities for kids can help kids in so many ways!

About Christina:
Christina Komaniecki is a school based Occupational Therapist. I graduated from Governors State University with a master’s in occupational therapy.   I have been working in the pediatric setting for almost 6 years and have worked in early intervention, outpatient pediatrics, inpatient pediatrics, day rehab, private clinic and schools. My passion is working with children and I love to see them learn new things and grow. I love my two little girls, family, yoga and going on long walks.