Different mental processes are implicated in the planning, initiation, and accomplishment of any given task.

Regardless of whether a task is simple or complex, the successful completion of a task depends on one or more of the following mental processes:

  1. Working Memory,
  2. Mental Flexibility, and
  3. Self-Control.

These three cognitive processes are the ones most frequently highlighted by scientist in the literature. While these executive functioning skills might seem like separate entities, in reality, they are interrelated functions that cooperate to give rise to competent executive functioning.

Working Memory involves one’s ability to temporarily store and manipulate information in our mind, over short periods of time.

Children with weak working memory skills might have trouble:

  • remembering details of a story they have just read,
  • struggle to remember the steps to complete a task,
  • require frequent reminders to follow multi-step instructions,
  • find it challenging to remember and apply game rules,
  • and misplace or lose their personal items time and again.

Quiz: Let’s check in

Which of the following cognitive abilities are involved in Executive Function.
Working Memory, Visual Spatial, Self-Control
Long-Term Memory, Mental Flexibility, Processing Speed
Working Memory, Mental Flexibility, Self-Control
Working Memory, Mental Flexibility, Logical Reasoning



Which of the following statements is FALSE?
1) Executive functioning processes work together to help us set and achieve goals.
Executive functioning skills enable children to follow game rules.
Children who have problems with working memory require repetitions to learn new concepts.
Executive functioning processes usually act independently of one another.



Which of the following would children with Working Memory deficits NOT have difficulties with?
Tracing letters
Mental calculations
Retelling a story
Taking turns



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  • Hill Learning Center. (n.d.). 7 executive functioning skills your child should have. https://www.hillcenter.org/7-executive-functioning-skills-your-child-should-have/
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc. (2013). Executive Function 101. Retrieved from https://www.chconline.org/resourcelibrary/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/executivefunction101ebook_344.pdf
  • National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, & National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs. (2011). Building the brain’s “air traffic control” system: How early experiences shape the development of executive function (Working Paper No. 11). Harvard University, Center on the Developing Child. Retrieved from http://developingchild.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/How-Early-Experiences-Shape-the-Development-of-Executive-Function.pdf