How to Improve Executive Function | The OT Toolbox

How to Improve Executive Function

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.