Back when I was a special education teacher, I was working with my students on executive functioning skills every day. Fast forward to me having my own kids, and I quickly have realized these skills aren’t just for the kiddos I was teaching. They are for all children…and some adults! Which is why I feel these are such important skills to teach your children. Because it will help them with everything they do. I’m sharing all about executive functioning skills, what they are, and how to teach your kids through executive functioning activities.
What Are Executive Functioning Skills?
What are executive functioning skills? Basically, they’re life skills. Executive functioning skills encompass a wide variety of important skills that your kids will use for life and for right now.
Kids have had to shift their learning styles. Parents have had to take on extra responsibilities. It feels like we have less time to do more stuff. Well, teaching your kids these executive functioning skills will help you get some of those responsibilities off of your plate and provide your kids with some much-needed breaks throughout their school day.
Yes, some of these things will require more work on the front end. You have to teach your kids how to do each task and set the expectation. But once they learn, it will help.
I recommend that you pick one or two of these executive functioning skills I am sharing below to implement them in your house right now.
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Some Executive Functioning Activities:
Below I have a lot of ways you can instill executive functioning skills into your daily routines. I suggest starting with a few of the ones listed below. Then add more to the things you children can do. Pick skills that meet their age level or ability level!
Clean the floors after every meal
Have your kids use a dustpan and broom–even a teeny brush and dustpan–to clean up under the table, or let your kids use a handheld vacuum to clean up the entire house or after meals. It’s also great to let your kids Swiffer any of the hard floors in your house. I like using these types of brooms for the kids to use.
Clean or dust plants
This is a simple, helpful executive functioning skill to teach your kids. Take a little bowl of water and some cotton balls. Have your kids dip the cotton ball in the water, squeeze off the extra water, and gently dust the leaves of the plants. It’s a great way to help your kids develop fine motor skills which will help them with writing.
Wash cloth-napkins in a tub of water
Our kids use and wash cloth-napkins at mealtime at their school, and I thought it would be great to try at home. Fill up the tub with just a little bit of water (not so much that you have to hover over them while they work). Then, have the kids dunk the napkin, twist it dry, dunk it again, twist it again, and, finally, hang it on a clothesline with a clothespin. I like using this wash basin for the kids to use.
Help feed pets
Your kids can clean the animal dishes, fill up their water, and feed them. This is a great life skill for them to develop right now and gives them a sense of responsibility.
Wash the windows
If you don’t want to have your kids to use chemicals (understandably), just fill up an empty spray bottle with water. Have them spray the window and, using a microfiber cloth, wipe the windows in clockwise, counterclockwise, and cross-body motions.
Load and empty the dishwasher
If your kids can reach the sink, this is a great task. But even if they can’t reach the sink yet, you can have them load dishes that don’t need to be rinsed. My daughter doesn’t like milk in her morning cereal so when she’s finished with her breakfast, she can just put her spoon and bowl in the dishwasher.
Collect and takeout the trash
Every Monday night, our kids collect the garbage throughout the house. Most of the time, they can take the garbage cans to the curb for pick up too.
Clean in the bathroom
I let my kids use the natural cleaners to wipe down the counters, the sink, the bathtub, and the shower. They don’t clean the toilets, and they’re obviously not doing a deep clean with heavy chemicals. But even those little tasks relieve a lot of the burden of cleaning from me. This is a great executive functioning activity the children can do with supervision.
Put away laundry
When my kids were away at school all day, I would turn all of their clean clothes the right way and put them in a laundry basket to have them put away. Now that we have plenty of time, I let them do it all. Yes, it takes longer. Yes, they grumbled and resisted. But they do it now. We play our laundry playlist, and I stay close by to help if they need it. A lot of times, I’ll fold my clothes in between their two bedrooms. That way, we’re all working together.
Set and clear the table
Every night, the kids set the table with placemats and silverware and fill the water glasses. We have the time, and it’s been great to have nice dinners at the table every night. The kids also help with cooking and meal prep. Again, it takes me some time to teach kids the executive functioning skill, but in the long run, it saves me time and teaches my kids valuable life skills.
Pick A Few Executive Functioning Activities To Teach
Select a few executive functioning activities from the list above to teach your kids. Get in the habit of letting them do these activities daily or weekly. Then add to their list! This will support their independence along with teaching them important skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.