What is Executive Functioning?

Executive Functioning

Executive Functioning (EF) skills are skills we use every single day, but often don’t realize we are using them.  For example, when you make your lunch in the morning, you are planning a meal for later in the day.  When you sit quietly in class or at work, you are exhibiting self-control.  Most of our daily activities can be tied back to executive functioning in some way.

There are ten main components of Executive Functioning. Click on the heading of each component to go to the specific blog post outlining more detailed information in each of the ten components.


The ability to look at our goals and tasks and figure out what we need to do in order to accomplish them.


The ability to keep things in a systematic order.  We use this in reference to both materials and plans.

Time Management

The ability to look at a task and both plan and use your time effectively in order to complete it.

Task Initiation

The ability to begin a task.

Working Memory

The ability to hold onto information in our minds.  This refers to our ability to follow directions and remember things we were told.


The ability to recognize what knowledge you have, and what you don’t yet know.

Self- Control

The ability to control your thoughts, actions and emotions.  

Sustained Attention

Being able to focus on one thing for a period of time.


How well you can accommodate change and adapt in new situations.


The ability to work through a challenging task without giving up when things are difficult.

Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to EF.  This can pose different challenges for students.  A child might have great self-control and can sit quietly in class, but have poor planning skills.  Another child in the same class might be able to plan out their weeks down to the minute, but because they struggle with task initiation, none of their planning ever offers much benefit to their school work.  This combination looks differently in everyone, and provides everyone with different strengths and weaknesses.

Over the next few months, we will be talking about each of these skills, how they affect your child, and what you, as a parent can do to model these skills and set your child up for success.