Executive function refers to the abilities that enable us to focus, plan, prioritize, work toward goals, self-regulate our behaviors and emotions, adapt to new and unexpected situations, and eventually participate in abstract thinking and planning. Executive functions, like a primary conductor for an orchestra, supervise and organize a wide range of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional processes.
Executive function impairments manifest in some youngsters as difficulties with impulse control, tantrums, and difficulty self-regulating emotions. Others are more aware of difficulties with classroom structure, time management, and remembering instructions. Adolescents with executive function frequently struggle to achieve independence and make long-term plans.
While there are many tools and resources that help out adults in boosting executive functions, in this blog, we will talk about the various games that can help with the inculcation of executive functions among individuals.
Executive functions: Helping individuals with multiple abilities?
While many people wonder if executive functions are affected in the case of individuals with learning disabilities like dyscalculia; Contrary to popular belief, executive functioning does not refer to a single ability, nor do executive functioning skills grow linearly. Executive functions are comprised of three primary components:
- Inhibitory control (the ability to control impulses)
- Working memory (a type of short-term memory that includes temporarily storing and manipulating information)
- Cognitive flexibility (shifting) (the ability to switch between thinking about different topics).
Each of these skills develops at a variable rate, with windows of opportunity for growth and intervention. Environmental factors such as early childhood stress, family structure, and educational chances can significantly impact executive function skills. Fortunately, this means that these abilities are exceedingly pliable and malleable.
Evidence-based therapies have been thoroughly investigated and have demonstrated that structured educational, neuropsychological, and socioemotional programs can improve children’s executive functioning.
Games to make executive function training simpler
As you have seen the advantages and essence, we are sure you are waiting to know how to include it in your child’s lesson plan. So, don’t wait up and check the games mentioned below:
1. Row Swap Puzzle
In this game, you’ll see a picture that has been scrambled. All you need to do is rearrange the rows as quickly as possible to complete the puzzle. The benefit of puzzles is that they develop and enhance memory skills and the ability to plan, test ideas and solve problems. The primary reason for the same is that while completing a puzzle, children need to remember shapes, colors, positions, and strategies to complete them.
How To Play Row Swap Puzzle
- Start the game by clicking the start button.
- Use the mouse and drag the puzzled pieces
- You can keep a tab of the time and complete the picture
- When you complete the puzzle, you can save your progress and share it amongst yourself.
The added benefit of this puzzle is the time checker, which will help the child learn and enhance their time management skills.
2. Marble Lines
Marble Lines is a game that all of us have played once in our life but have never actually understood the essence behind it. The game proves that color helps the kids in memorizing certain information by increasing their attentional level. Simply put, colors increase student attention, and the more attention a student devotes to specific stimuli, the more likely the stimuli will be remembered.
How to play Marble Lines?
- Click the start button and begin your fun ride.
- Look closely at the ball’s color and shoot it in the direction where it can form a group of three or more.
- Click the mouse to shoot the ball and space to move in the direction.
3. Remember the cards
Memory cards is a game that highlights areas such as executive functioning skills, working memory, attention, focus, fine motor skills, visual motor skills, visual perceptual skills, and time management. This game does precisely that as the game allows you to read the pictures and their placement and then find the correct pair.
How to play memory cards
- The game will begin in 3..2..1.
- Check the photos and their placements.
- Select the image and create the correct pair.
Sudoku forces you to think – and think critically – and can help you improve your concentration. Sudoku is a game that takes concentration. You must consider where you will place the numbers and whether they will interfere with the numbers in other boxes and lines. As you are engrossed in completing a problem, it stimulates your mind and works on your logical thinking process, eventually improving your numerical abilities.
How to play sudoku
- Sudoku is played on a grid of 9 x 9 spaces, and within the rows and columns are 9 “squares” (made up of 3 x 3 spaces).
- Each row, column, and square (9 spaces each) needs to be filled out with the numbers 1-9
- Don’t repeat any numbers within the row, column, or square.
- Use the Process of Elimination and solve the game.
Playing Pictionary is a terrific method to keep youngsters entertained and pass the time. It improves your child’s vocabulary, creativity, visualization skills, and logical thinking. The game also helps children learn the relationship between a certain term and an idea. Furthermore, the game can help your child enhance his or her artistic and nonverbal communication skills. Thus, this game of drawize can be something you can rely on to inject the values stated above. The best part about the game is even if you don’t have a team, you can play with people around the globe.
How to play drawize?
- The game starts with two options, “Play now” and “Private rooms,” select either.
- Here play now is where you play online and in a private room where you can play with your friends.
- Once you begin the game, you will have the liberty to draw, chat, and guess.
6. Spot the difference
Spot the difference games allow your child to exercise their focus and concentration skills as they actively examine the images to identify similarities and differences. As they develop their ability to notice things, they can aid in improving your child’s observational abilities. It is suggested to occasionally play spot-the-difference games and progressively increase the difficulty level to reap the benefits continuously.
Who to play spot the difference?
- Check all the boxes and point out which box has the odd one-out picture.
- Click it and check the score meter.
The game’s goal is to press the numbers as quickly as possible in the stated order. This instills in children a crucial cognitive flexibility, which is especially vital for children to learn at a young age to succeed in school and other areas of life. As a child, time management skills are vital because they allow you to focus on your priorities and complete work without feeling overwhelmed. This game teaches children the three P’s of time management: planning, prioritizing, and performing.
How to play Digits?
- Press “START” when you’re ready.
- Check the order in which you need to arrange the digits.
- Click on the correct sequence and win!
Here, extra points are awarded if the child hits several correct numbers in a row. Some levels will have a time limit to complete. At higher levels, some numbers will be arranged in ascending order, while others will be arranged in descending order.
8. Make a cookie
A delicious activity for preschoolers and kindergarteners is Make a Cookie. Children choose various cookie shapes, colors, frostings, sprinkles, and toppings in a step-by-step process. Celebrate the holidays with cookies with a Christmas or Halloween theme since no two cookies are exactly alike! To view your cookie, don’t forget to click “Finished” and beware of the monster!
How to play make a cookie?
- Start the game and roll the pin to flatten the dough.
- Drag the cookie cutter in the shape of their choice.
- Make the cookie of your choice and have fun.
We cannot always make kids make cookies at home. So, a perfect way to introduce them to the nitty gritty that goes into making it. The game will help the child learn about shapes and colors and allow them to execute their understanding, enhancing both their cognitive and memory skills.
Executive function: The required skill set
“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned” – Benjamin Franklin, activist, author, and scientist. Executive functioning abilities support the actions required for goal planning and achievement. By early adolescence, your child should display most of the executive functioning skills listed below.
1. Adaptable Thinking
Adaptable thinking allows a youngster to problem solve or adjust to surroundings as needed, overcoming immediate hurdles. This skill also pertains to a child’s capacity to perceive things from another person’s point of view. A child who hits a blockage on their way to school and devises any other route is an example of adaptive thinking.
The ability of a youngster to plan for the future, construct a plan of action, and prioritize the many working elements is a strong indicator of cognitive development. Making a packing list, giving directions, or drafting a recipe are all planning instances.
The ability of a youngster to self-evaluate or comprehend how effectively they are executing a certain job is referred to as self-monitoring. A positive self-monitoring example is when a child notices that a mathematical formula isn’t getting the correct results and double-checks their work to find the error.
Self-control refers to a child’s ability to regulate his or her physical or emotional outbursts. Impulse control prevents a youngster from responding or behaving without thinking. When a student obtains a poor test score but keeps focus and absorbs constructive feedback while being level-headed and learning from the faults, this is an example of effective self-control in terms of executive function.
5. Working Memory
Working memory refers to a child’s ability to remember and store learned information before applying it later. This talent is critical to a child’s academic achievement because it is in charge of short-term memory and execution. A child with a strong working memory remembers and performs the instructions for a step-by-step drill in gym class.
6. Time Management
Time management refers to a child’s ability to establish a timetable, finish things on time, and keep patience while working on projects. A good example of time management is finishing a multi-step project ahead of schedule without hurrying or sacrificing quality.
Organizing skills are essential to a child’s development because it allows them to deliver a concise story or keep track of possessions. When a youngster selects a separate folder or notebook for each school subject or consistently follows any systematic procedure, they demonstrate effective organization.
The last thought
To develop executive functioning in children, there is no one-size-fits-all technique. Children who are typically developing as well as those who have neurodevelopmental disorders respond very differently to each of these approaches. Some may not be practical or even appropriate for certain children and families.
Thus, the optimal method is one that takes into account each child’s strengths and vulnerabilities, as well as the needs and functioning of each unique family. Finally, no matter what intervention is used, parent-child ties are critical. The ongoing support of parents and families, shared experiences, and time spent together enjoying everyday activities like reading books, cooking, or dancing assist scaffold children’s self-regulation skills.