The executive path to success

Procrastination, poor focus, impulsiveness… all are traits often labelled as bad behaviour. But children may simply be lacking the right cognitive skills for planning and problem-solving, argues Grace Elliot

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A large part of my day is spent with students who are intelligent and capable, but who can’t seem to organise their belongings, think before they act, or begin a project without procrastination.

Often, children like this can be labelled as careless, lazy or wilfully disobedient. But a likely cause of these behaviours is actually to do with their executive functions.

In research on the subject, it is generally agreed that there are three core executive functions: inhibition, working memory and cognitive flexibility. These are the foundation for reasoning, problem-solving and planning.

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