As an educator who writes articles, gives lectures, and trains others on how to establish routines in the family, Amanda Vogel knows the importance of executive functioning skills. Below, she shares how she taught these skills to her young son.
Recently, we acknowledged that we were having some trouble at home with our toddler. He’s only two and a half, but he’s quite strong willed. We faced constant resistance, even tantrums, every time our son had to do something new that wasn’t one of his favorite activities. So, if we said it was time to brush teeth, put on a coat, or use the potty, we’d have to brace ourselves for a tantrum.
When our older daughter has to do something she doesn’t particularly want to, we know that having perceived control over her day helps immensely. When we have a lot of free time in a day, she makes a list of all the things she “must do” and all the things she “wants to do,” then organizes them into a schedule. She actually loves doing this!
We thought about how to help our son gain this same sense of control, even though he is too young to read or fully understand. Our solution is a visual schedule. We made laminated picture cards for each of the activities he commonly does in a day, such as eating meals, getting dressed, playing on the iPad, and using the potty. The cards are displayed on an easel.
Now, a few times a day, we make his “list” of what’s coming up next. He loves to be part of choosing the activities and enjoys “reading” what is next once the schedule is set up. He’s also getting a pretty cool early introduction to managing time and completing tasks!
Working with my toddler has shown me that kids of all ages can benefit from learning executive functioning skills, even in a simplified form.
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