Middle school is a critical time in your child’s life, marked by significant academic and personal growth. Understanding the concept of executive function skills is important to help them navigate this crucial period successfully. These skills play a big role in your middle schooler’s development, impacting everything from their academic achievements to their ability to manage daily tasks effectively.
What are Executive Function Skills?
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University refers to executive function as the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully (Pengine, 2015). These skills are responsible for directing cognitive functions such as:
- Organization: The ability to arrange tasks, materials, and thoughts in a systematic way.
- Time Management: Effective use of time to complete tasks, meeting deadlines, and plan for the future.
- Working Memory: Holding and manipulating information in the short-term memory while performing tasks.
- Self-control: Regulating emotions and impulses, allowing for better decision-making.
- Flexibility: Adapting to changing situations and thinking creatively.
- Initiation: Starting tasks and projects without procrastination.
Why Are These Skills Important in Middle School?
Middle school is a transitional phase where cognitive demands are increased students are required to function with more independence in school. Given the increased environmental and contextual demands in middle school, this transition can be a particularly difficult period of time for some students. Significant decreases in Grade Point Average (GPA) and confidence in academic abilities have been well documented (Langberg, et al., 2011). Here is why executive function skills are important during this time:
- Academic Success: Middle school introduce more complex subjects and assignments. Strong executive function skills are critical for effective completing assignments, study habits, and time management.
- Social and Emotional Development: Students in middle school go through an adolescences change that comes with emotional challenges and social dynamic awkwardness. Executive function skills can help with managing emotions, navigate social situations, and make responsible decisions.
- Personal Responsibility: As students become more independent, they need to manage their time, responsibilities, and goals. Executive functions skills help them keep their priorities in order which will help them become more responsible (Moran, 2007).
Identifying Executive Function Challenges
The first step in providing support to your middle schooler is identifying executive function difficulties. Executive function issues often show up as:
- Regular neglect of responsibilities or assignments
- Problems executing multi-step instructions
- Struggles with punctuality and time management
- Not having proper supplies
- Making rash decisions
- Difficulty adjusting to routine adjustments
Understanding executive function skills is important for parents of middle schoolers. These skills are essential for academic achievement, personal growth, and overall success during this crucial phase of your child’s development.
BEST Skills Academy meets the needs of middle schoolers who need help with executive function skills with our lower student-to-teacher ratio, personalized learning plans, close teacher-student relationships, and a structured, supportive environment.
We emphasize holistic education, nurturing social and emotional development alongside academics. Additionally, parent-teacher collaboration and specialized support services contribute to helping students develop essential executive function skills, making BEST SKills Academy an excellent choice for middle school education.
In upcoming blog posts, we’ll explore practical strategies and activities to help strengthen your middle schooler’s executive function skills, too. Stay tuned for valuable insights and actionable tips to support your child’s journey through middle school!
Langberg, J., Epstein, J., Altaye, M., B, M., Arnold, E., & Vitiello, B. (2011). The Transition to Middle School is Associated with Changes in the Developmental Trajectory. National Library of Medicine, 651-663. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096937/
Moran, S. (2007). Executive Functions from a Multiple Intelligences Perspecitve. Executive Function in Education, 19-38.
Pengine, W. (2015, March 19). Executive Function and Self-Regulation. Retrieved from Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University: https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/executive-function/