Math. Social studies. Science. There’s no shortage of important topics the U.S. education system imparts on our youth. And yet, there is a set of skills that’s not given enough attention in the classroom: Executive functioning.
Executive functioning is the management system of the brain — it refers to how well students pay attention, organize and prioritize, stay focused on tasks through completion, regulate their emotions, and keep track of the things they are doing. While executive functioning is starting to gain some deserved attention in the classroom, parents can have a huge impact on the growth of these skills for their children.
In this piece, we’ll look at why executive functioning has been historically overlooked in our education system and how parents can help their children learn these skills.
How did we get here? Why executive functioning is overlooked
The U.S. public education system has always been focused on results. Results in the form of grades, standardized test scores, and student performance. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, which President George W. Bush signed into law in 2001, schools that did not consistently meet federal standards for proficiencies could face funding cuts. The Every Student Succeeds Act, ushered in by President Obama, largely transferred the accountability of these assessments from the federal to the state level.
Under both laws, however, the incentive for schools is to ensure students are meeting state or federal proficiency standards. That’s why many curriculums — understandably so — have been geared toward achieving certain benchmarks for each grade level.
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