Executive Function

Executive Function Development

Fostering Executive Function Development in school-aged children is of paramount importance in today's digital age, where the pervasive influence of smartphones and social media presents unique challenges. Executive functions, which include skills such as working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control, are crucial for effective learning, emotional regulation, and overall personal development. These skills enable children to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.

 The widespread use of smartphones and social media has introduced new dynamics into the lives of young people, impacting their executive function development in several ways. Firstly, the constant stream of notifications and the instant gratification provided by digital platforms can lead to dopamine saturation. This saturation diminishes their ability to delay gratification and maintain sustained attention on tasks that require effort but do not provide immediate rewards. Consequently, children may struggle with concentrating on their studies and other non-digital activities that are essential for cognitive development.

 Secondly, social media significantly influences teenagers' self-perception and body image. The curated and often idealized representations of life and appearances on these platforms can contribute to unrealistic standards and body image issues. These issues, in turn, can affect teenagers' mental health, leading to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Executive functions play a critical role in managing these emotional responses, enabling young people to regulate their emotions, reflect on their experiences critically, and maintain a balanced self-view despite external pressures.

 Moreover, the use of smartphones, particularly before bedtime, disrupts the circadian rhythms of students. The blue light emitted by screens interferes with the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep-wake cycles. This disruption can lead to sleep deprivation, which has profound impacts on students' academic performance, mental health, and overall longevity. Sleep-deprived students often struggle with attention, memory consolidation, and cognitive flexibility—all key components of executive function. Poor sleep quality is also linked to increased levels of stress and anxiety, exacerbating the mental health challenges already posed by excessive social media use and body image issues.

 The long-term effects of disrupted circadian rhythms extend beyond immediate academic performance. Chronic sleep deprivation has been associated with a range of health problems, including weakened immune function, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and impaired mental health. It also impacts emotional regulation and resilience, further hindering students' ability to cope with the pressures of modern life. 

 By fostering executive function development, educators and parents can help children develop the resilience and skills necessary to navigate these complexities. Activities that promote executive functions, such as structured play, mindfulness practices, and problem-solving tasks, can be integrated into the school curriculum and daily routines. Teaching children how to set goals, prioritize tasks, and manage their time effectively can empower them to use technology responsibly, limit screen time, and establish healthy sleep habits. 

 Moreover, strengthening executive functions can help children build a strong foundation for academic success and personal well-being. They become better equipped to resist distractions, handle stress, and engage in reflective thinking. As they grow, these skills will not only help them cope with the immediate challenges posed by digital technology and social media but also prepare them for future academic and professional environments where such abilities are highly valued. In essence, developing executive functions in school-aged children is a proactive approach to ensuring they can thrive in an increasingly complex and digital world.

 Here are several key citations from cognitive psychology literature that support the findings related to the importance of understanding and supporting executive function development in children and the potential negative impact of misinterpreting these weaknesses as character flaws:


Barkley, R. A. (2012). Executive functions: What they are, how they work, and why they evolved. Guilford Press.

Blair, C., & Raver, C. C. (2015). School readiness and self-regulation: A developmental psychobiological approach. Annual Review of Psychology, 66, 711-731.

Diamond, A. (2013). Executive functions. Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 135-168.

Meltzer, L. (Ed.). (2018). Executive function in education: From theory to practice (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.

Willcutt, E. G., Doyle, A. E., Nigg, J. T., Faraone, S. V., & Pennington, B. F. (2005). Validity of the executive function theory of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A meta-analytic review. Biological Psychiatry, 57(11), 1336-1346.

Zelazo, P. D., & Carlson, S. M. (2012). Hot and cool executive function in childhood and adolescence: Development and plasticity. Child Development Perspectives, 6(4), 354-360.


Ways we support schools in employing to help parents develop their children’s Executive Functioning


  1. Professional Development for Educators:

    We provide professional learning for educators to understand and communicate the importance of executive functions to parents, so they can enhance the effectiveness of any parent engagement strategy. Educators equipped with this knowledge can better support parents in their efforts to develop these skills at home.

  1. Parent Education Programs:

   We offer comprehensive parent education programs, offering a series of classes or modules that parents can attend over a period of time. These programs provide in-depth training on various aspects of executive function development and offer opportunities for parents to practice new skills and receive feedback.

  1. Parent-Teacher Conferences:

   We support the development of better parent-teacher conferences, where educators can discuss the specific executive function strengths and challenges of individual students. They can provide tailored strategies that parents can use at home to support their child's development and offer resources for further learning.

  1. Online Resources and Webinars:

   We help schools create a digital platform with resources such as videos, articles, and webinars on executive function skills. This allows parents to access information at their convenience and revisit materials as needed. Interactive webinars can also include Q&A sessions where parents can ask questions and get personalized advice.

  1. School-Home Communication:

   Our Axiom Dashboard provides easy to use, regular communication between schools and parents allowing schools to include tips and strategies for developing executive functions. Schools can share success stories, research findings, and upcoming events related to executive function development.


Sheridan, S. M., Knoche, L. L., Edwards, C. P., Bovaird, J. A., & Kupzyk, K. A. (2010). Parent engagement and school readiness: Effects of the Getting Ready intervention on preschool children’s social-emotional competencies. *Early Education and Development*, 21(1), 125-156. doi:10.1080/10409280902783517

Pfannenstiel, J. C., & Zigler, E. F. (2007). Prekindergarten programs in the states: Trends and issues. *Psychology in the Schools*, 44(8), 793-806. doi:10.1002/pits.20264

Dworkin, J., Connell, J., & Doty, J. (2013). A literature review of parents’ online behavior. *Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace*, 7(2), Article 2. doi:10.5817/CP2013-2-2

Kraft, M. A., & Rogers, T. (2015). The underutilized potential of teacher-parent communication: Evidence from a field experiment. *Economics of Education Review*, 47, 49-63. doi:10.1016/j.econedurev.2015.04.001

Epstein, J. L., & Sheldon, S. B. (2006). Moving forward: Ideas for research on school, family, and community partnerships. *Journal of Educational Research*, 100(6), 367-380. doi:10.3200/JOER.100.6.367-378 

Graham-Clay, S. (2005). Communicating with parents: Strategies for teachers. *School Community Journal*, 15(1), 117-129. Retrieved from

Mendez, J. L., & Fogle, L. M. (2002). Parental reports of preschool children's social behavior: Relations among peer play, language competence, and problem behavior. *Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment*, 20(4), 367-381. doi:10.1177/073428290202000403

Powell, D. R., & Dunlap, G. (2010). Family-focused interventions. *Evidence-based practices in the field of early childhood education*. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-409544-7.00025-1

Manz, P. H., Power, T. J., Ginsburg-Block, M., & Dowrick, P. W. (2010). Community-based literacy initiatives for children. *Journal of Educational Psychology*, 102(1), 221-240. doi:10.1037/a0018186

Sheridan, S. M., & Kratochwill, T. R. (2008). *Conjoint behavioral consultation: Promoting family-school connections and interventions*. Springer Science & Business Media. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-78192-4

Professional Development for Educators:

    - Guskey, T. R. (2002). Professional development and teacher change. *Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice*, 8(3), 381-391. doi:10.1080/135406002100000512