Executive function is a poorly understood concept that is commonly and imprecisely used to describe a whole host of behaviors. Precisely, executive function refers to the organization and application of short term memory and decision making strategies to problem solving tasks.
In other words, executive functions determine your child's ability to see a complex problem, decide what methods to try in order to solve it, and then apply his or her memory of those methods and skills. This is the most fundamental skill in all of mathematics, and it's also the hardest for most traditional schools to teach.
Severe impairments in executive functioning
Extremely severe impairments in executive functioning are rare, and are generally the result of physical brain damage, not the result of education. It is highly unlikely that your child has severe difficulties in executive functioning. If your child does have such difficulties, AVE may be able to help, depending on their nature and severity.
Standard difficulties in executive functioning
Much more common are standard difficulties in executive functioning. Many of these issues are actually cognitive overload associated with information processing, not with decision making strategies, but they are mislabeled as difficulties in executive functions. For example, a student with shaky math fundamentals may be unable to intelligently approach a word problem, as the mathematics itself overwhelms him. Similarly, a student with weak language processing may not be able to correctly understand a set of verbal directions. This may mimic an impairment in executive function, but the two are fundamentally different.
At Vohra, we address such impairments by first separating the cognitive steps and targeting the areas of weakness. Many students who appear to have difficulties with executive function actually have several independent deficits that, when combined, produce what appears to be an impairment in executive function. By rigorously and systematically building each of these abilities individually, we are able to fully address the deficits, and even turn former areas of weakness into strengths.
When appropriate, difficulties in executive function are approached the same way. By systematically leading the student through increasingly challenging cognitive tasks, our programs directly build the required cognitive skills and problem solving techniques, preparing the student to succeed in school and life.
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