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Executive Function skills as a foundation for success

Give-a-fish-to-a-man v3The term “executive function” refers to the cognitive control processes of the brain that impact all domains of behavior. Executive functions allow us to organize information for learning, prioritize ideas or assignments, initiate tasks, set goals and develop plans for how to attain them, plan steps for problem solving, shift flexibly between big ideas and details and between one task and another, hold and mentally manipulate information, and focus our attention.

Research has shown that many students who struggle academically are not less intelligent than their peers, but instead they do not have the tools and strategies they need to effectively organize, prioritize, self-direct, and self-monitor their knowledge and understanding. There are three major stages of Executive Function development in the brain, which occur around age 6 (first grade), age 10 (middle school) and at adolescence (high school). As school work grows more demanding, Executive Function skills become increasingly important.

At Engaging Minds, we recognize the importance of strengthening and mastering Executive Function skills and learning strategies as a foundation for academic success. We believe so strongly in the significance of skill acquisition that we integrate Executive Function skill work with our academic content support from our very first session with each student. Our goal at Engaging Minds is to create for students a toolbox of learning strategies and skills they can apply in a variety of situations to help support their executive brain functions.

Engaging Minds students learn how to: EF images

  • Organize – daily assignments, notebooks and folders, backpacks, study nooks, lockers, notes for an exam or a semester-long research paper
  • Break down large assignments into smaller, more manageable pieces
  • Track daily homework and plan ahead and keep up-to-date on long-term assignments
  • Prioritize the many tasks students face each day, week, and month
  • Initiate homework and long-term assignments
  • Break down and follow directions 
  • Prepare and study for an exam
  • Develop and set goals that are specific, achievable, and timely
  • Shift between big ideas and details, and between one assignment and the next
  • Extract information from text (reading comprehension techniques)
  • Organize thoughts and ideas, and communicate clearly and effectively in writing



Engaging Minds Boston Learning and Tutoring Center
188 Needham Street • Suite 215 • Newton, MA 02464
190 N. Main Street • Natick, MA 01760
Tel: 617-964-3100 •

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