With society’s increasingly high standards in education and academics, it is without saying that we are in a relentless rat race to provide the best education for our children. Whilst having enrichment lessons may suffice, why not go the extra mile to practice at home by honing your child’s executive functions.
Executive Functions are mental skills which include Working Memory, Mental Flexibility and Inhibitory Control; which the lack thereof can have detrimental impact on our daily lives and potentially, academic performance. Executive functioning skills develop exponentially in early childhood and into adolescence, therefore it is paramount to prime our young ones early.
To start off, let’s focus on Working Memory, where the brain is engaged to hold multiple information at the same time while simultaneously processing it (Miller, 1960). An active stimulation of working memory helps reduce irrelevant information that interferes with the task at hand (Brogaard, 2020) which will be extremely helpful when your child enters Primary School.
Here are some simple home practices you and your child can do to improve Working Memory:
Memory games such as Spot the Differences can be fun and interactive ways for your child to improve their working memory. Show your child 2 similar looking images side by side and have them describe the differences they saw. Amp up the difficulty level by showing them just one picture for a few seconds, reintroduce both pictures and then have them describe the one they saw.
Why not get creative as well with different items in the house, by removing or swapping items around, ask your child if they see anything out of place.
Another game would be Card Matching! Use any deck of cards you have on hand such as Uno or Old Maid that has pairs of identical cards. Flip them around and have a mini competition with your child to see who can match up all the cards first! For an even greater challenge, have them place the cards back at their original positions after the game ends.
Such tactics can come in the form of active reading, visualisation, and making connections.
Yes, you heard me right. Chores are fantastic ways to improve working memory. Do keep in mind that working memory is not just about cognitively solving arithmetical problems, it is also evident in whether one is able to bake a cake without forgetting the steps.
Have your child build up the good habit of writing down what they can do to help at home and guide them in organising this information into smaller pieces. Simpler exercises can include giving them instructions on which of their toys go into the box first and have them pack it in the correct arrangement. You can also have them assist you with preparing meals by reciting the quantity of ingredients without constantly referring to the recipe.
Simple multi-sensory methods like these go a long way and you are also building up a sense of responsibility in them!
At the end of the day, do observe your child and understand what appeals to them and keeps them willing to do more. Every child has their own pace when learning thus as adults, we should provide them with the adequate tools to do so. The list of at-home practices is inexhaustive, like and follow us for many more such recommendations for you.