Executive Functioning Skills (EFS) are critical for human beings to successfully navigate most aspects of their lives. These skills are often referred to as the “air traffic controller” of the brain. Executive Functioning Skills include activities such as: planning, time management, prioritization, breaking large tasks into smaller sub-tasks, staying focused on completing tasks, and avoiding distractions.
Studies have shown that EFS skills evolve in adolescents/young adults as the brain matures. The parts of the human brain that process executive functioning continue to develop until around the age of 25. Furthermore, we now know that EFS skills must be learned– a person does not acquire EFS simply because their brain develops. As a young person creates routines and habits, they develop neural pathways that actually change the way their brain functions. But this takes time. A 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology states that, on average, human beings require 66 days (with a range of 18 to 254 days) for a new behavior to become automatic, i.e., for a neural pathway or habit to be formed.
Many teachers and academics are reporting that executive functioning skills are lacking in young people today. The reasons why are not completely understood. Some theorize that it is a result of excessive screen time, but it may just be that we’re now recognizing a problem that has always existed. Nevertheless, there is an increasing amount of focus on the topic these days among pedagogists and educators. Many influential thinkers are searching for solutions. In 2018, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to complete a Request for Information in the K-12 education space for solutions focused on achieving three objectives. One of those three objectives was improving student EFS.
Ella Learning was founded to be part of this solution. Read about how Learning Management Systems, in use by schools today, could help build EF skills.