InBrief: Executive Function: Skills for Life and Learning

Being able to focus, hold, and work with information in mind, filter distractions, and switch gears is like having an air traffic control system at a busy airport to manage the arrivals and departures of dozens of planes on multiple runways. In the brain, this air traffic control mechanism is called executive functioning, a group of skills that helps us to focus on multiple streams of information at the same time, and revise plans as necessary. This edition of the InBrief series explains how these lifelong skills develop, what can disrupt their development, and how supporting them pays off in school and life. Acquiring the early building blocks of these skills is one of the most important and challenging tasks of the early childhood years, and having the right support and experiences through middle childhood, adolescence, and into early adult life is essential for the successful development of these capacities.

This 5-minute video provides an overview of Building the Brain’s “Air Traffic Control” System: How Early Experiences Shape the Development of Executive Function, the joint Working Paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs.

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Also from the InBrief series:

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Washington State Department of Early Learning Training Module: Executive Function

EF moduleThis online training module was produced by the Washington State Department of Early Learning (DEL) to help early care and education providers better understand and support the development of executive function skills. Created in collaboration with the Center's Frontiers of Innovation initiative, DEL's 6-part professional development module includes video of researchers, teachers, and children to both explain and demonstrate how these critical skills form and what they look like in the early learning classroom.

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Major funding support for this InBrief video has been provided by: Bezos Family Foundation, Birth to Five Policy Alliance, Buffett Early Childhood Fund, Casey Family Programs, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


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