Executive function is a set of cognitive skills that allows us to perform tasks. Use this list of games and toys to help kids build and establish executive functioning skills in the home, school, or community. These are great games to use in therapy to boost executive function for improved independence, safety, and task completion.
What is Executive Functioning?
There is much that can be read about executive function. Essentially, executive functioning skills include the ability to perform a series of skills during functional tasks. These include attention, impulse control, emotional control, flexible thinking, working memory, self-monitoring, planning and prioritizing, task initiation, and organization. Looking at this skills set, executive function skills are essential for independence in most tasks.
For the younger child, executive function abilities present themselves when they perform a multi-step task such as completing the parts of a morning routine. Parental involvement and the prompting that comes with young kids are more involved. When a child is able to perform a multi-step process with more independence, they may be able to prepare their cereal, clean up the dishes, brush their teeth, get dressed, gather items needed for the day, and leave the house even when a shoe is hidden under a table, the toothpaste spills, and the dishwasher is too full to add another bowl.
Executive functioning is initiating a task, adjusting to problems, negotiating obstacles, while organizing and prioritizing all of the steps and details.
Children can strengthen executive functioning skills in fun and creative ways.
The game Consequences can help kids learn that their actions have consequences! It’s a good game for younger kids.
What Do I Feel is a game that allows kids to explore emotions and address emotional control as they respond to different scenarios.
This Memory Chess Game is a fun game to address focus, working memory, and concentration. It’s got a great fine motor component, too.
The Original Memory Game is the one that has spurred a TON of varieties of matching, memory, and concentration.
More tools for addressing attention needs in kids
There are so many strategies to address attention in kids and activities that can help address attention needs. One tactic that can be a big help is analyzing precursors to behaviors related to attention and addressing underlying needs. The Attention and Sensory Workbook can be a way to do just that. The Attention and Sensory Workbook is a free printable resource for parents, teachers, and therapists. It is a printable workbook and includes so much information on the connection between attention and sensory needs. Here’s what you can find in the Attention and Sensory Workbook:
Includes information on boosting attention through the senses
Discusses how sensory and learning are connected
Provides movement and sensory motor activity ideas
Includes workbook pages for creating movement and sensory strategies to improve attention
A little more about the Attention and Sensory Workbook:
Sensory processing is the ability to register, screen, organize, and interpret information from our senses and the environment. This process allows us to filter out some unnecessary information so that we can attend to what is important. Kids with sensory challenges often time have difficulty with attention as a result. It’s been found that there is a co-morbidity of 40-60% of ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder. This workbook is an actionable guide to help teachers, therapists, and parents to help kids boost attention and focus in the classroom by mastering sensory processing needs. You will find information on the sensory system and how it impacts attention and learning. There are step-by-step strategies for improving focus, and sensory-based tips and tricks that will benefit the whole classroom. The workbook provides tactics to address attention and sensory processing as a combined strategy and overall function. There are charts for activities, forms for assessment of impact, workbook pages for accommodations, and sensory strategy forms.
Grab the Attention and Sensory Workbook below.
Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.