Understanding Executive Function in Children

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In the brain, this air traffic control mechanism is called executive function; a group of skills that helps us to focus on multiple streams of information at the same time, and revise plans as necessary

Building executive function in children is the focus of our research project: Building Brains and Futures which has a curriculum introduced into various schools in the city of Lethbridge. Although we have had a few workshops and are still in the process of educating teaching professionals, there is always much to learn with regard to enriching our city’s children’s minds.

Being able to focus, hold, and work with information in mind, filter distractions, and switch gears is like having an air traffic control system at a busy airport to manage the arrivals and departures of dozens of planes on multiple runways. In the brain, this air traffic control mechanism is called executive function; a group of skills that helps us to focus on multiple streams of information at the same time, and revise plans as necessary. Acquiring the early building blocks of these skills is one of the most important and challenging tasks of the early childhood years, and the opportunity to build further on these rudimentary capacities is critical to healthy development through middle childhood, adolescence, and into early adult life.

Dr. Robbin Gibb and Dr. Claudia Gonzalez

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