Impulse Control. Time Management. Setting Goals and Priorties. Planning. These are all crucial skills. These skills are grouped together and labelled the “executive function” in John Medina’s fascinating book, Brain Rules For Baby. Medina feels that executive function is critical for children because it is “actually a better predictor of academic success than IQ.”
Because learning impulse control is really not much fun, a playful approach is key. Medina describes several games he plays with his own kids to improve this skill. In one game, when he shows them a picture of a sunny day, his kids have to say “night,” and when he shows a nighttime picture, his kids have to say “day.” He goes into more detail in his book, which I highly recommend. (In addition, check out his website, and his printable brain rules cheat sheet.)
We decided to make an executive function notecard game. We cut up magazines to make two sets, a body part set and an animal set.
Playing the Game
Body Part Cards
With the body part cards, I held up a card with one body part and called out the name for a different body part. The impulse, of course, is to touch the part seen on the card, rather than listening to what I said to do.
This game led to a lot of giggles and jumping around, as we tried to quickly switch to the correct part!
With the animal cards, I would hold up a picture of one animal, and ask what sound a different animal makes. So I would hold up a picture of a dog, and ask him what a cow says.
We also had a lot of fun with this one – it is surprising how silly these games can get. Increasing the speed at which I show the cards also increases the mistakes- and the laughter!