As a parent, how important would you rate the following skills for your child?
Good organization, planning, prioritizing
Pretty important right?
All of these important skills belong to a complex set of skills called executive functions and they are a direct indicator of your child’s future success in academics, employment, and life! These skills define an intelligent, balanced, motivated person who is self-disciplined, innovative, and doesn’t give up. The good news is these skills can be nurtured during the early childhood years. Interestingly, Montessori is one of the only curriculum models that researchers have proven can improve these skills in children.
Research has shown that early development of executive functions is a better predictor of later academic performance than is early acquisition of academic skills. These capabilities are essential for ensuring rewarding life outcomes. – Dr. Steven Hughes, PhD, ABPdN
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University defines executive function as the mental processes that support students in their ability to plan, focus their attention, remember instructions and juggle multiple tasks successfully (2016). Crucial for learning and development, these important skills also enable positive behavior and allow us to make healthy choices for ourselves and our loved ones.
Executive function skills are revered by colleges and CEOs as imperative for success, and targeted by leading edge companies when looking for leadership and innovative qualities. The bad news is that children are not born with executive function skills.
The good news is that children are born with the potential to develop executive function skills and will develop them if provided the proper support. If, however, children do not get what they need from their relationships with adults and their environments at an early age, then their executive skill development can be seriously delayed or impaired.
The great news is that Montessori education is superior in fostering executive function!
One of the only curriculum models that has been empirically shown to improve executive function in children is the Montessori curriculum (Lillard & Else-Quest, 2006). In fact, the very essence of a successful Montessori classroom is characterized by the term “normalization,” which showcases the development of executive function in young children.
Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University. (2016).
Lillard, A., & Else-Quest, N. (2006) The early years: Evaluating Montessori education. Science, 313, 1893-1894.