If your child struggles with learning and behaviour then they likely have weak connections in a higher brain level called executive function—the brain’s CEO. Children, like adults, require executive function to accomplish a multitude of daily tasks like getting ready for school, focusing in class and homework completion. This mental skill set is responsible for focused attention, planning, impulse control, organization and self-regulation.
Depending on how weak the connections are—they may experience a few or many challenges. This is why some children are diagnosed with ADHD or a learning disability while others only have mild difficulties.
Executive function is essential for learning success, healthy decisions and positive behaviour. When breakdown occurs, basic tasks become major challenges. Your child may have trouble organizing their backpack, remembering to bring work home, planning ideas, managing impulses and emotions, remembering a series of instructions or what they read, filtering out distractions, staying focused and may frequently misplace or lose items like homework or lunch kits.
Basic tasks like homework completion requires numerous skills that stem from the same ‘station’ in the brain. Prioritizing what needs to be completed, organizing thoughts and materials, resisting distractions like a video game or ignoring a sibling, regulating emotions when normal learning frustrations occur and maintaining focused attention long enough to see the task through all require executive functioning.
These children do not lack intelligence. Instead, they lack the executive function that allows them to show their full potential and be successful. Higher brain levels, like executive function, can become compromised when lower brain levels are not fully developed in the first year.
The brain develops in layers—not as a bucket filled with information. One milestone, such as crawling, builds upon another. For example, many of the children I see either hardly crawled or skipped this step altogether. Fortunately, poor executive function does not have to be permanent. It can be strengthened by going back and fully developing the lower brain levels through targeted interventions and learning therapies.
To learn more, schedule a free Happy Child, Star Student Breakthrough Session.