This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Primrose Schools; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Somewhere I must have blinked because my toddler is blossoming into a preschooler who soaks up everything around him. It is amazing to see all he can accomplish on his own, and now we can interact with him in new ways and even have a verbal exchange.
Taking my toddler to daycare has been wonderful for his socialization and development, and now he is ready for more structured learning. We are enrolling our son in Primrose Schools after we finish our move to our new location, and one of the reasons driving the decision is their reputation for early childhood education and teaching skills to preschoolers.
What are executive function skills?
Executive function skills are what we use to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.
The foundation for these skills is built in early education and sets your child up for success later in life. These skills are necessary not only in school, but are critical for a thriving career as well.
Below is the list of executive function skills as identified by Primrose Schools:
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
Why toddlers need to learn executive function skills
Children learn an incredible amount in the early years, and the skills continue to build into adulthood. Starting the development of these skills in early education helps shape these wonderful kids into amazing adults who reach their full potential and exceed all our expectations.
Adaptability is a difficult one for toddlers, and yet one vital to our lifestyle as a military family. Our family will move around a lot, causing our son to change schools and exposing him to different cultures and environments. He will need to learn to adapt to get along well.
Teamwork is an excellent skill and is critical for any school or job environment. Being able to work well with others and enjoy projects as a group is something my son can learn now from classmates and friends.
Problem solving is a skill all children (and adults) must have to succeed in life. Situations change in an instant, and new challenges are always ahead.
Critical thinking skills are the ability to determine how to use new information as it is presented to us. Toddlers and preschoolers are constantly being presented with new information around every corner and need to learn to process it correctly and safely.
Self-control is certainly not an easy one for toddlers, but discovering early on that certain behaviors are frowned upon and that taking something just because you want it is not acceptable, is a great lesson.
Memory skills amaze me in children. Seeing recognition of people, places, and objects displayed by my son is fascinating and wonderful. Making memories with family as well as maintaining skills learned is invaluable.
How does my toddler develop executive function skills?
Teaching adaptability and teamwork through play with other kids is a wonderful way to nurture these abilities. Interactions between children serve to teach many lessons very quickly, and children learn to adapt to each other. This teaches children what behavior is acceptable and shows natural consequences of undesirable actions.
Problem-solving and critical thinking skills can be taught in so many fun ways. There are a ton of educational toys (such as blocks and puzzles) that encourage this skill in play. I enjoy interacting with my child using educational toys at home – not only does that give us something we can do together, but building towers also builds a learning environment with many opportunities to develop these skills.
As a working mom, I tend to stick to simple and very easy activities my son and I can do together. That usually involves toys and household items we already have on hand. Playing with building blocks allows us to talk about colors, and see how new things can be made by putting pieces together.
I also love puzzles and shape sorters, as they do so much more than allow kids to practice motor skills. Watching the expressions on my son’s face as he thinks about each shape and where it belongs really shows me how much he is learning and building his thinking skills.
Even a simple color sorting activity using my collection of pouch caps, a muffin pan, and some tongs gave us an excellent opportunity to play together and grow my toddler’s skills.
As my son gets older and becomes more verbal, I look forward to asking him questions about his thinking process as he builds more intricate houses and towers. Having him talk through his actions and reasons behind them will be a fantastic way to continue to build my son’s problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Self-control is a skill we are continually working on with my toddler to attempt to curb some tantrums. We ask him to wait or pause before jumping into something he is super excited to do (such as jump into the splash pad). We ask him to do some action first before he can do something he enjoys (eat a few bites of dinner before running outside, anyone?) and we try to explain with “when… then” (when you pick up your toys, then we can play in the bathtub).
Memory skills are developed through play as well, as he’s learning colors and shapes and their names. We also try to show him photos and have video chats with far away grandparents so he knows who they are, even though he does not see them regularly.
Ten lucky winners will receive a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card and five children’s books! Enter to win at https://www.primroseschools.com/blog/primrose-skills-sweepstakes/
If you want to learn more, check out this video:
How do you practice these executive function skills at home with your child?