Oak Hill Blog

Learning Issues Series: Executive Functioning Skills

Executive Functioning Skills

Most students in grades 8-12, like most adults, struggle to navigate the flood of information swirling around them and often feel overwhelmed by it all. Input from multiple directions pummels today’s students at a rate previously unknown.  Amid myriad distractions in our fast-paced world, educators wonder: how can we help students develop their executive functioning skills?

While the term “executive functioning skills” may sound unfamiliar, the need to help students focus, set goals and overcome distractions is a familiar challenge. Executive function, also known as “the CEO of the brain,” manages working memory, cognitive flexibility, and self-control.  At its core, this refers to the ability to regulate one’s thinking in order to accomplish tasks productively.  Although issues with executive functioning do not presuppose a disability, these are common difficulties facing students, particularly those with ADHD or learning differences.

Skills Managed by Executive Function Include:

  • Planning, Organization &Time Management
  • Task Initiation & Completion
  • Working Memory & Attention
  • Metacognition: “Thinking about Thinking”
  • Self-Control & Perseverance
  • Flexible Thinking & Understanding Other Points of View

In life, as in school, these skills are measured by and demonstrated through the completion of tasks.  Observant teachers and parents notice that there is often an underlying reason for a student’s lack of academic performance or low motivation.  Failing grades or indifference toward school are often merely symptoms of common developmental challenges in the area of executive function rather than laziness or lack of ability.

As a small boarding school, Oak Hill Academy views students holistically, incorporating structure and routine into daily life beyond the classroom setting while educating each student individually.  This provides an environment conducive to best educational practice, where essential thinking skills can be strengthened for every student.  Moreover, the Oak Hill Academy Learning Success Program offers intentional structure and creates a framework for students needing additional support.  Oak Hill Academy, with its orderly and thoughtful design, provides a place where all students can grow, develop, and thrive.


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