• Rachel Kapp

Executive Functioning

Updated: Jan 21

Executive functioning is the ability to implement, plan, and cope with everyday life.


Some of us naturally find it more difficult than others to focus our attention and control our impulses. However, there are many who particularly struggle. This is known as executive functioning challenges.


Does your child find it hard to plan their school work? Does their attention easily break? Can they only focus on one task or do they struggle to start a new activity?


Your child may be experiencing signs of executive functioning issues. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t flourish in school, work, and their personal life.


In this guide, we share what exactly executive functioning challenges are and how you, as a parent, can support your child to manage their struggles.


Executive function is a set of mental skills that help us cope with everyday scenarios in our personal and working life. Each skill is required so that we can set goals, plan ahead, and finish tasks.


This can be anything from remembering a telephone number and following directions to completing a research project or managing emotions.


There are several executive functioning skills which each play their own important role including:

  • Planning

  • Time management

  • Start and completing tasks

  • Self-control

  • Note taking

  • Organization

  • Memory

  • Multitasking… and more!

Our executive functioning skills begin development early in life and quickly improve well into our teenage years. They don’t finish developing until we reach our mid-20s and not everyone achieves full executive functioning capacity at the same pace.


But lacking in any of these areas can complicate how a child functions in school and life.

Executive Functioning struggles is the term for when the brain has a weakness in its ability to self-manage. This could be struggling to remember things, manage time, or pay attention.

There are a variety of tests for executive functioning which measure the specific skills associated with EF that are carried out by child psychologists and specialists. The most common of which is the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF), an in-depth survey that assesses your child’s area of difficulty.


Observing your child’s behavior in everyday situations is another way to informally determine whether they have executive functioning challenges. You can also check in with their teachers to get a rundown of their classroom performance.


Signs to look out for include struggles with:

  • Getting homework done on time

  • Not knowing where they are supposed to be

  • Following multi-step directions

  • Writing or reading out loud

  • Showing their method of working out math equations


You can also take our 5 minute test to help spot signs as above.


Issues with situations where executive functioning skills are required can demonstrate that your child may need support. If ignored, EF can result in poor school performance and increasing anxiety and tension for and between both the child and parent.


Struggles are often highlighted when a child prepares to transition to a new grade and therefore when schedules consequently change. It’s important to recognize these difficulties as early as possible to help your child ease into their routine and to ensure they don’t develop negative connotations with their intelligence.

Whilst most children and adults with EF are born with a weak executive function, it is often paired with learning disabilities, depression, or ADHD.


Attention deficit hyperactive disorder is a cognitive and developmental impairment of the brain’s self-management system. Although many symptoms crossover with EF, you don’t have to have an ADHD diagnosis to struggle with EF.


When ADHD does exist, executive functioning and ADHD makes it even more complicated to thrive in school and other aspects of life. But thankfully there is plenty of support for your child’s development.

A range of supports are available to help support your child understand and manage their executive functioning struggles.


Educational therapy is one of the most effective ways to support children with executive function challenges and/or ADHD.

Educational therapy is a long-term approach to helping children develop their own unique strategies for learning, executive functioning, and self-regulating. The goal of educational therapy for learners with executive functioning challenges and/or ADHD is to promote independence and autonomy in learning, school, and life.


Working with children in a one-on-one setting allows Educational Therapists to individualize the type of remediation specifically to each child's needs and learning style. This differs from tutoring which only supports specific curriculum content. Educational therapy focuses on assessment, remediation, skills, and strategies geared toward sustained learning.


Kapp Educational Therapy Group helps learners develop a toolbox of skills they can take with them and apply to their life well beyond their sessions. Our experienced Educational Therapists and Learning Specialists allow learners to take the skills they developed and effectively apply them to real-life situations that would have been previously too challenging.


Find out more about educational therapy and how it can transform your child’s executive functioning.

When seeking executive functioning treatment for your child, there are many approaches that you as a parent will learn from an Educational Therapist. We will help you consider your child’s environment and how it can be optimized to help them stay focused. Simple solutions such as signs, sticky notes, lists, and apps can help keep children on task whilst visible clocks can aid time management.


Motivational exercises also support organization such as points systems and rewards for being accountable and accomplishing goals.

Tune in to Learn Smarter: the Educational Therapy podcast that educates and encourages parents in how to support their children with different learning profiles.


Book a discovery call with us today to discuss how Educational Therapy can help your child reignite their love for learning.

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