Executive function — a sort of air traffic controller of the brain — has been one of the hottest topics in education circles over the past 15 years. Yet experts disagree over what it is exactly, to what extent it really causes academic problems and whether anything can be done to improve one’s executive functioning. Even today, a professional diagnosis of executive function disorder alone generally won’t qualify a child for special education services.
Now a new large study makes a compelling case that certain executive functioning difficulties can emerge as early as kindergarten and they dramatically increase the likelihood of serious academic problems in the first half of elementary school. Troubles with executive function can put these children on a low and sluggish learning curve that they are unlikely to break out of.