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Math Mondays: Improve your child's executive skills


In this last week of Math Mondays, we focus on executive functioning skills.

Executive skills have multiple components, including attentional focusing, working memory, and inhibitory control (Ponitz et al., 2009). Every time you play a game, memorize its rules, and pay attention to what’s going on in the game, you exercise these skills.

You can imagine how valuable these skills are in a classroom and later on in your work environment! In fact, some research suggests that executive functioning skills in children are a better predictor of future academic and career success than their math or language grades.

How can you help your child improve these skills?

  • Play board games with them — games that require them to attend to some simple rules, like Candyland or Zingo.
  • Challenge their inhibitory skills by changing the rules so they have to pay close attention. Try this with them: “Dance when I say stop! And stop dancing when I say start!”
  • Remember Simon Says? That’s another perfect game to develop these skills.
  • Encourage them to reflect on their own thinking. The fancy word for this is “meta-cognition”– thinking about your own thinking. How? Ask them to show you how they solved a problem. The process is every bit as important as the result.

We hope you and your children have enjoyed participating in the activities we suggested!