The faculty at Trevose Day School spent an afternoon receiving some important training on executive function and child development with Iris Paltin, PhD. Dr. Paltin is a pediatric neuropsychologist with the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Cancer Center and Neuro-Oncology Program at CHOP who specializes in working with children and families on their executive function skills.
The school knows that it is very important to focus on and learn about this topic in great detail. Executive functions are the cognitive skills we need to control and regulate our thoughts, emotions and actions in the face of conflict or distraction. Children need to learn about self-control, the ability to resist doing something tempting in order to do the right thing. We need to incorporate these skills into our curriculum as they help children pay attention, act less impulsively and stay focused on work. Trevose Day School provides chess instruction for their students to exercise their working memory; music class, violin and an opera performance to work on memory as well as cognitive flexibility; and various computer games and activities exercise attention and problem-solving skills requiring working memory and cognitive flexibility.
Executive function and self-regulation skills depend on three types of brain function: working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. These functions are highly interrelated, and the successful application of executive function skills requires them to operate in coordination with each other. When children have opportunities to develop executive function and self-regulation skills, individuals experience lifelong benefits. These skills are crucial for learning and development and must be taught throughout the day to young children. They also enable positive behavior and allow them to make healthy choices which will benefit them now and in their future learning and life endeavors.