When we teach children what their executive functions are we talk about cognitive skills. You have cognitive skills in your brain to help you take action in life. These cognitive skills can be built, trained and improved via cognitive conversations and motor movements.
There are many executive skills: attention, inhibition, self-regulation, cognitive flexibility and more. We help children become their brain’s “best coach” by learning to recognize that tasks are made up of many parts. The parts of a task are a sequence.
Sequencing is one of the first EF’s we teach because it is actionable. Successful planning, initiation, execution, and task completion builds confidence.
How to teach SEQUENCING:
To teach the cognitive skill SEQUENCING, talk with your child/student about a common activity he/she does frequently. Making a sandwich, brushing your teeth or folding your laundry are good examples. Ask the child to imagine doing the activity. Now, on a marker board or piece of paper write down every step in the task. We like to use rows of 3 or 4 boxes, so the child has a good visual of the steps.
You can start at the beginning of the task, “First I,” “Then I” or you can back into the task using your imagination to see a snapshot of the activity when it is properly completed.
“Backing into” the task is viewing the task from the end action and reflecting back on all the things you did right before. Start at the end, i.e I am eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “Right before I put it in my mouth I….” “Right before that I….” You may have 10-15 steps in the task.
Now you have a sequence. You can look at that sequence to discuss the many parts of the task. Tasks are usually multiple steps. We marvel with our students at all the parts of a task they do to successfully complete the task.
You can also use the sequence to see if you missed a step. That way, the sequence becomes a useful visual checklist.
When we understand that activities of everyday living are simply sequences of tasks we are empowered to help our brains know what to do in what order.
Here is a mini-lesson on sequencing from our Executive Skills in the Classroom lessons on #TheKineticClassroom, online professional development training platform.
The Hopper concept was developed by Rebecca Comizio, MA, MA-Ed, NCSP and can be found in 70 Play Activities.
Teaching Sequencing with the “Cognitive Conversation”
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