The Evidence Portal

Building executive functioning capacity

Flexible activity

The flexible activity of building executive functioning capacity recognises the importance of skills such as following instructions, staying focused, and using self-control for children as they transition to school.

How can it be implemented?

Training teachers to intentionally develop basic executive functioning skills in children transitioning to kindergarten and provide opportunities for these children to practise their new skills in the classroom.

Who is the target group?

This flexible activity’s target group is children transitioning to school.

What programs conduct this activity?

Second Step Early Learning: Provides strategies to reinforce executive functioning skills such as asking students to engage in “think time” before raising their hand. The daily playing of “brain builder” games provides an opportunity for children to practise attention, working memory and inhibition.

What else should I consider?

The development of executive functioning is a complex developmental process influenced by both maturation and experience. Some children might struggle with some activities/ concepts not because they are uncooperative, but because their level of neurodevelopment might not match that of their peers. Teachers need to consider the variability in neurodevelopment levels among children in the class.

Further resources

  • Upshur, C. C., Wenz-Gross, M., Rhoads, C., Heyman, M., Yoo, Y. And Sawosik, G. 2019.  A randomized efficacy trial of the second step early learning (SSEL) curriculum. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 62, 145-159.
Last updated:

24 Feb 2023

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