Sensory Processing Disorder

Resources to Help Your Child with Executive Functioning Skills

My almost 8-year-old is brilliant but he is a bit scattered (like his mom, the scattered part at least). He has trouble staying on task, completing a work cycle, and getting organized to meet deadlines and complete assignments. In short, his executive functioning skills worried me. 

Do you feel you’re in the same boat but are like “What is Executive Function?” Yeah, that was me but I took the bull by the horn and dug into every piece of research I could find on the topic.

For many years, I didn’t worry about his natural tendencies. I let him experience free play and a less structured lifestyle to develop his problem-solving, critical-thinking, and creative-thinking skills a la NurtureShock.

Related Read: Occupational Therapy 101 For Parents

Executive Functioning Skills

When we had our second son, I noticed his profound ability to locate objects. That sound a bit crazy, I know, but a young child, cognitively speaking, doesn’t have the ability to “find things” easily. This skill is one that develops over time, a skill that is nurtured by the environment, including the adults within the environment. I remember murmuring out loud, “Where are my keys?” and suddenly my 2-year-old would run up to me with my keys and say, “Here keys, Mumma. In bathroom.”

I am a huge proponent of inquiry-based learning and project-based learning.  Give the child control, let him guide his learning, and observe the beauty. I get that beauty. We all learn through having experiences, failing, and trying again.

So, what was my son missing? His scientific thinking is superb. He is curious and digs deep into his learning, yet he can’t get his homework assignments completed. He will design and write out instructions for a board game but won’t ever create it. My son never has a plan and if he did there would be no follow-through.

Related Read: 12 Things an FBI Hostage Negotiator Taught Me about Parenting

Part of me thinks to let it go, that these skills will develop in time, that pushing him will only work in the opposite direction. Now that he is nearly finished his 2nd-grade year, I am on alert to assist him. In true form, I set out to research the best resources for parents and teachers to nurture executive functioning skills in children. Of course, I have to share these resources with you.

Related Read: How to Help Scattered Kids Conquer Everyday Life Skills

Related Read: What You Need to Know about the Characteristics of Gifted Children

Executive Functioning Skills Resources

  1. Smart but Scattered by Peg Dawson is a go-to resource for many parents and caretakers around the world.
  2. Executive Functioning Activities Guide by Age offers a fantastic array of ideas for parents and teachers to help guide kids to further develop such an important life skill.
  3. The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Executive Functioning Disorder by Rebecca Branstetter
  4. Checklists such as these visual routine charts from Etsy work wonders for kids
  5. A simple notebook for the child to make lists and stay on top of tasks
  6. Binders and Folders to create a system
  7. Use a timer for all occasions – school time, mealtime, and so on. We use Amazon’s Alexa to assist us with a timer (among many other things such as weather, audiobooks, cooking, and music!).
  8. Rhythms, Routines, & Schedules by Rachel Norman and Lauren Tamm
  9. What is Executive Function Guide for Parents

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Let me know your go-to executive functioning skills resources!


Marnie Craycroft

Marnie hails from Maine where she spent summers buried in sand and winters buried in snow. She is the daughter of a nearly four decade veteran of the public school systems. Teaching has always been a part of her life. She founded Carrots Are Orange in 2010.

Carrots Are Orange is a Montessori learning and living website for parents and teachers.

Marnie graduated from Wesleyan University in 1999 with a BA in Economics. She spent nearly a decade working in investment management. In 2006, she earned her MA in business from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.

Marnie moved to the west coast in 1999 and currently lives in Boulder with her husband and three sons. She is Montessori trained. Her work has been featured on Apartment Therapy, Buzzfeed, PBS Kids, BabyCenter, the Melissa & Doug blog, Huffington Post, and Besides writing, passions include running (usually after her three sons), photography, and outdoor adventures.

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