2. Create a well-organized environment with clear rules and predictable routines. When students know what to expect they can focus on learning with fewer EF demands.

3. Give students opportunities to make choices, direct their own actions, and gradually become more independent. This not only motivates them by allowing them to choose things that interest them (e.g., books, research projects), but it helps them learn to take more responsibility for their learning.

4. Involve students in planning and setting learning goals for lessons, assignments, and projects.

5. Encourage students to keep track of time. Estimate how long it will take to complete tasks. Use tools and visual aids like schedules and time organizers.

6. To help students strengthen working memory, give directions in multiple formats or organize information into smaller chunks.

7. Use tools such as checklists and step-by-step guides to help students plan, keep track of multiple tasks, and finish their work on time.

10 tips to boost executive function

8. Supplement instruction with neuroscience-based interventions. Interventions such as the Fast ForWord program include exercises designed to build EF, along with language and reading skills.

9. Teach and assess core SEL competencies along with academic skills. Clearly describe and model the SEL skills and behaviors that students are expected to demonstrate in the classroom and at school. Offer feedback and coach them as needed, and regularly provide positive reinforcement.

10. Adopt a growth mindset. When students believe that intelligence can develop through the process of learning, achievement is significantly accelerated.

When student learning is more efficient and effective, the amount of time needed for re-teaching is reduced, and the need for academic and behavioral interventions is reduced as well.

Research shows that all children can achieve, even those who begin at a disadvantage. By focusing on EF, educators can help students develop good learning habits, pay attention and behave in class, ignore distractions, resist impulsive actions and responses, and think creatively in response to different demands and settings.

About the Author:

As the author of more than 100 journal articles and multiple books, neuroscientist Martha S. Burns, Ph.D., is a leading expert on how children learn. She works as a consultant for the clinical provider division of Scientific Learning.