The set of skills involved in
executive functioning are the following:

 
 
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Inhibition

The ability to stop your behavior at the right time. The opposite of inhibition is impulsivity. If you have weak inhibition, you have poor impulse control. Someone with poor impulse control is often told that he/she needs to think before they act.


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Shift

The ability to flexibly move from one situation to another. Those that are often told that they are rigid thinkers and struggle with transitions have weaknesses in this area.


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Emotional Control

The ability to regulate one’s emotions. Those that struggle with emotional control seem to have extreme reactions and can present as moody. These children often need a break, or time to calm down before they are able to have a rational conversation about what upset them.


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Task Initiation

The ability to start a task or activity independently. Children who have a hard time sitting down and starting their homework or getting to work when the teacher asks them to work on their own have weaknesses in this area.


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Working memory

The ability to keep information in your head in order to complete a task. Those that struggle in this area often forget what they are doing mid-task, preventing them from finishing what they are doing.


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Planning/Organization

The ability to think about the steps necessary to get something done. This is comparable to the “recipe” in your head to make a meal. Those that struggle in this area need directions and long terms assignments to be broken into small steps.


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Organization of Materials

The ability to order and arrange materials in a way that they are easy to find when necessary. Those that struggle in this area usually have very messy book bags and can’t find the work they need to do or turn in.


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Self-Monitoring

The ability to step back and observe one’s actions to make sure he/she is on track to do what is necessary to complete a task. For example, if you only have one hour to complete a paper, you are watching the time to make sure it’s about halfway done after 30 minutes. Those that struggle in this area have a hard time understanding how long assignments will take and don’t realize when they get off task.