What a child learns before the age of 5 can directly impact his ability to hold a job, develop healthy relationships and deal with stress later in life. Between the first day of preschool and the first day of kindergarten, young children are expected to learn how to focus on a task, control impulses and ask for help when needed. These are examples of executive function skills—the abilities that serve as the foundation all children need to succeed in school and in life.
Children don’t naturally develop these non-cognitive skills. These abilities must be nurtured by parents, teachers and caregivers. Research shows that fostering these abilities in young children improves academic performance, increases high school graduation and college completion rates—helping build a more productive workforce.
Our Community on the Cutting Edge of Executive Function Development
Right here in our community, Encompass is a leader in supporting the development of executive function skills across all of its programs in parent education, early education and pediatric therapy at its offices in Issaquah, Snoqualmie and North Bend. As the only organization in King County (and 1 of only 5 in Washington) to be selected to participate in a pilot program known as “Executive Function Learning Communities”, Encompass trained members of its staff to build awareness and knowledge of executive function and explored how to support executive function in an early learning setting through intentional play. Going forward, Encompass staff across different programs can access the pilot program materials to build executive function in the children served.
“Encompass strives to be on the cutting edge when it comes to research related to early childhood development, so imagine my excitement when we were invited to participate in a state-wide research study on the development and role of executive function skills in young children,” said Kerry Beymer, parent support and education manager at Encompass.
Encompass’ expertise and leadership in executive function means the children in our community—especially those participating in Encompass programs—have the opportunity to be better prepared for school in terms of making good decisions, participating successfully in the classroom and adapting well to changing situations.
How are executive function skills taught? Deliberate play and activities led by educators, parents and caregivers of children under the age of 5 can develop executive function skills like working memory, mental flexibility and inhibitory control. Experiences during the earliest years of life can have a lasting impression on the architecture of the developing brain and executive function. And the good news is there are specific ways to play with children to develop executive function and help them learn to pay attention, reason logically, exercise judgment, control impulses, plan, identify goals and work to achieve them and assess and adjust to what is happening.
Encompass Equips Local Parents to Develop Executive Function Skills
Parent education is a pillar of Encompass programming—the organization believes knowledge of executive function should be shared with parents and has offered two FREE Executive Function Parenting Workshop this spring (in early May and on June 12). If you missed joining Encompass for these, Kerry Beymer is currently drafting a parent curriculum for release later in 2014. Stay tuned to learn about this important topic and how it relates to your child’s education, school readiness and social development—and how Encompass can help children reach their fullest potential.
For more information, contact Kerry Beymer, the parenting education and support manager at Encompass (425.888.2777 or Kerry.firstname.lastname@example.org).