27 Jan Fun Games and Activities to Help with Executive Functioning
“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.”
One way for parents to deal with children’s executive function disorder is to look up and employ games and activities to help with executive functioning.
And this can be done from early on in your child’s life.
Consider this your ounce of prevention, the plug in the hole of your child’s bucket of health.
After all, prevention is better than cure. And when you can prevent issues with executive functioning in your child, you will surely make use of every available strategy that will help you do so.
What is Executive Functioning?
Executive Functioning are the mental skills and processes that enable us to plan, remember instructions, focus our attention and even multitask. These skills are learned throughout the early stages of a child’s life.
To understand better, imagine your child being an air traffic controller of a big airport. He needs to guide air crafts onto runways and into the air. Your child may not be great at it in the beginning but with constant practice, he will be able to safely land and put multiple air crafts in the air.
And executive functioning is what will make your child become successful as an air traffic controller.
What is Executive Function Disorder?
Simply put, executive function disorder is when a person’s executive function does not develop properly.
And once executive function skills are not adapted, it can cause disorganization in a child’s life.
But this condition does not progress on its own. It can happen because of another disorder that a child may have, once of which is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
When a child has executive function disorder, he may exhibit some of the following symptoms:
What Games and Activities will Help Prevent Executive Function Disorder?
With all the negative things that executive function disorder brings, parents will not want their children to experience this condition.
Thankfully, there are fun and easy activities that will help parents develop their children’s executive functioning and fend off the disorder associated with its inappropriate development.
According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, the following games and activities encourage children, at different stages of their lives, to focus attention, use working memory, and practice basic self-control skills.
1. Lap Games Accompanied with Clapping
You might not remember it, but your grandparents or parents played clapping games with you as a child, too.
However, your elders may just have thought of it as an activity that amused you as an infant.
This actually has more impact on a child’s ability to focus and engage on the appropriate behavior than people realized.
When you clap your hands to a set rhythm, your child learns how to set the pace of his own clap along with your music or spoken word.
This is how a child learns to control his impulses and to concentrate on what you are doing with him.
2. Hiding objects and toys
Like peek-a-boo, this is one of the most basic activities that will help develop your child’s working memory.
This activity teaches kids to remember that you have hidden something that you have showed them before.
It helps them develop the ability to focus on the fact that something was hidden and wait for it to reappear.
This also helps them anticipate when and where the object is going to reappear, and helps them sustain their response time, manage their reaction and wait for the object to appear again.
3. Imitation games
These are very beneficial to children for a variety of reasons.
It teaches them how to interact with other people and await their turn when doing something. It also helps them to focus on what you were doing in order to remember it, and then do it when it is their turn.
Lastly, it helps them string out a coordinated action in order to successfully repeat what you did.
This can be a game of throwing things like toys into a box.
When the child rushes and throws in more than one toy, make them understand that this isn’t the game’s mechanics by asking him to hold on and wait.
Or you can do a singing game and have your child shout “Oh!” or “Hey!” at the appropriate time. This helps them with short-term memory manipulation and auditory retention.
4. Drawing and coloring activities
Toddlers are more active physically and they develop motor and speech skills at the same time.
Drawing and coloring allows them to sit down and concentrate on the task at hand.
There are a lot of drawing and coloring worksheets for toddlers available that you can do with your children as playtime activities.
And when you do these things together, your child learns how control their impulses and develop fine-muscle control.
5. Singing plus choreography
Singing songs helps develop your child’s working memory and speech by requiring him to remember the lyrics and coordinate his movements with the song.
Songs like “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” or “The Hokey Pokey” introduces new words and meanings.
And aside from improving his executive function skills, your child will enjoy doing these things, especially when you join in on the fun.
Puzzles develop several executive functioning attributes like working memory, cognitive flexibility, impulse control and attention.
Putting a puzzle together needs focus, and the cognitive ability to identify the pieces and connect them.
When your child plays this game, he also gets trained into recognizing that some pieces don’t connect with the ones already put in.
When they acknowledge this, they can go and try different ones, which improves their cognitive flexibility.
7. Animated films
Children in preschool and kindergarten have accelerated cognitive skill development.
It is in this stage of their lives that they are very curious and ask a lot of questions.
One way to support this is by watching animated movies with your child. It is a source of new topics that you can discuss together.
Answering questions like “Do you remember what happened after __?” requires your child to pay attention to the movie, remember details and place these details on a timeline.
This also develops your child’s working memory.
Stories helps kids learn how to listen, remember and retell details.
Telling a story can involve a number of things like books, a movie, or a trip outside the house.
The main thing is that you expose the kids to storytelling. After telling them the story, ask them to draw something that reminds them of another story or to play the role of a character in your story.
They can even tell the story to their friends, too.
9. Science at home
Doing experiments is one of the best ways to improve executive functioning and to teach them about how the world works.
Experiments help them develop skills in analysis, cognition and memory by making them identify the tools and objectives of the experiment, making them predict results and having them remember the steps so they can repeat the experiment independently.
Executive functioning enables us to concentrate, strategize and organize our behavior and responses.
They are the bases for creative thinking, innovation, learning and development. They are learned and not inherent.
This is why it is important for parents to nurture your child with activities that help develop these brain functions.
The earlier you can do executive functioning disorder training for your child, the better. And the more enjoyable these activities are, the better they learn and develop their skills.