What Helps with Executive Functioning?
Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that help us plan, organize, remember multiple directions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully (from Harvard University’s definition). Here are some games and ideas to help your student improve his or her executive function and self-regulation skills.
Card Games and Board Games
Hearts, spades, and bridge are games where kids have to track cards, which helps with working memory and strategy. Poker or mahjong can help with cognitive flexibility. Even minecraft or dungeons and dragons can help with strategies, working memory, and reaching goals.
Physical Activities/Outdoor Games
Organized sports have been shown to improve all aspects of executive function. Jump rope can help develop attention control and working memory. Outdoor games like tag or ghost in the graveyard can help with strategic skills as well. Even laser tag or paintball can be beneficial!
Music, Singing, and Dance
Learning to play an instrument can help with self-monitoring, attention, and working memory. Even simply participating in a music class of some sort can challenge students’ coordination levels, cognitive flexibility, as well as working memory and attention. Singing and dancing both have many executive functioning benefits, especially as the skill levels increase.
Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, spatial puzzles (think of the Rubik’s cube), or online computer game puzzles can uti lize working memory, attention, cognitive flexibility, and more.
Information taken from Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.