Executive Function Age vs. Chronological Age: Where does my child fall?
The online learning format is new for students and parents alike and that requires even more use of a student’s executive functions. As parents, many are needing to divide their own workday into time to help their child with schoolwork. The frontal lobe, where the executive functions live, aren’t completely developed until about our late 20’s. So, you can imagine how difficult distance learning may be for our students at the elementary level or for those students with executive function and ADHD challenges. The following list describes the typical executive functions at various grade levels. If a child has ADHD, this development may be delayed. It is important to know where your child’s executive function/emotional age is and adjust expectations to meet that emotional age.
(Dawson, Peg and Richard Guare. Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents. New York, NY: The Guilford Press, 2010. Print.).
- Run simple errands (e.g., “get your book from the bedroom”)
- Tidy bedroom/playroom with assistance
- Perform simple chores and self-help tasks with reminders (e.g., brush teeth, get dressed, clear dishes from table)
- Inhibit behaviors: don’t touch hot stove, run into the street, take another child´s toy, hit, bite, push, etc.
Kindergarten – Grade 2
- Run errands (two/three step directions)
- Tidy bedroom/playroom
- Perform simple chores, self-help tasks; may need reminders (e.g., make bed)
- Bring papers to and from school
- Complete homework assignments (20 minutes max)
- Decide how to spend money/allowance
- Inhibit behaviors: raise hand to speak, keep hands to self, don’t swear, follow safety rules
- Run errands (may involve a time delay or greater distance, like going to a store or remembering to do something after school)
- Tidy bedroom/playroom (may include vacuuming, dusting, etc.)
- Perform chores that take 15-30 minutes (e.g., clean up after dinner, rake the leaves)
- Bring books, papers, assignments to and from school
- Keep track of belongings when away from home
- Complete homework assignments(up to 1 hour maximum)
- Plan simple school project such as a book report (select book, read book, write report)
- Keep track of changing daily schedule (different activities after school)
- Save money for desired objects, plan how to earn money
- Inhibit & self regulate: behave when teacher is out of the classroom; refrain from rude comments, temper tantrums, bad manners
- Help out with chores around the home, including both daily and occasional tasks (e.g., empty the dishwasher, raking leaves, shoveling snow); tasks may take 60-90 minutes to finish
- Babysit younger siblings or for pay
- Use a system for organizing schoolwork (incl. planner, notebooks)
- Follow complex school schedule(changing teachers and changing schedules)
- Plan and complete long-term projects: tasks to be accomplished and a reasonable timeline to follow; may require planning multiple large projects at the same time
- Plan time, including after-school activities, homework, family responsibilities; estimate how long it takes to complete individual tasks and adjust schedule to fit
- Inhibit rule-breaking in the absence of visible authority
Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, Second Edition: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare
Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare
Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parents’ Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning by Joyce Eric-Kahn and Laurie Dietzel.