Categories
autonomy self-reliance Working Memory

EF at Home: The Benefits of Chores

Are you looking for a compelling, research-backed reason to get your children involved in household chores? Research shows that the benefits of chores are numerous! A new study published by researchers at La Trobe University(link opens in new tab/window) demonstrated that children who engage regularly in age-appropriate chores showed a stronger ability to plan, self-regulate, switch between tasks, and remember instructions.

Promoting Executive Function

While household tasks such as cooking may have become automatic for those who frequently complete them, there are systematic processes that make up each of these tasks that can be explicitly taught and modeled to children. Whether someone is cooking or completing homework, it is crucial to self-monitor and self-check to help ensure that we are doing our best work.

Working memory helps us make sense of what is happening around us. When it comes to cooking, the chef must keep instructions and lists of ingredients in mind while moving from step to step, and they must pivot and adapt when they run out of an ingredient or encounter other issues along the way. This can lead to a greater ability to think flexibly.

Developing Autonomy and Self-Reliance

The report builds on previous research that has shown that engaging in age-appropriate chores can lead to increased feelings of autonomy. Children who complete household chores have also demonstrated greater pro-social behaviors. In addition to learning strategies to tackle household chores like cooking a meal, children may experience the positive emotions that come with preparing and sharing a meal with family members and friends.

Encouraging children to complete chores is an excellent way to demonstrate the importance of sharing responsibilities at home and offers many chances for embedding executive function strategies outside of school. 

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
Cognitive Flexibility Executive Function Working Memory

EF in the Dog Days of Summer

Long days, peak temperatures, and high humidity…we are officially in the dog days of summer! During this time, humans and their canine companions in the Northern Hemisphere will do their best to rest and avoid extended exposure to the sun and heat.

Over the summer you might have more time to observe your dog’s daily patterns. Have you ever wondered what your dog is thinking and how they learn? This is the perfect time to explore new research around the similarities in cognition among humans and dogs.

Over the summer you might have more time to observe your dog’s daily patterns. Have you ever wondered what your dog is thinking and how they learn? This is the perfect time to explore new research around the similarities in cognition among humans and dogs.

Executive Function and Dogs

According to a recent study from La Trobe University (link opens in new tab/window), dogs and humans regulate their behavior in similar ways. Researchers focused on a few executive function processes: the ability to follow instructions, control physical impulses, and use working memory.

Over thousands of years of domestication, the survival of dogs has depended on their ability to obtain sufficient food and care by regulating their behavior to suit the human environment. Just as considering the context is crucial when examining executive function processes in humans, the same concept applies when observing dogs and their processes.

Working dogs, such as farm dogs or assistance dogs, have demonstrated highly developed executive function processes. For example, seeing-eye dogs have the ability to inhibit urges to chase other animals and closely follow sequences of instructions.  

Developing EF Strategies

Research in humans has shown that a structured, systematic, and explicit approach to teaching executive function strategies (the foundation of the SMARTS curriculum) fosters self-understanding and empowers students to learn how to learn. Training, it turns out, is the key factor in dogs’ development of executive function processes. Next time you want to teach your dog a new trick, consider using a SMARTS strategy!

Looking to build your executive function toolkit? Join us for the Executive Function Summer Summit (July 26, July 28, August 2, and August 4) and the SMARTS Executive Function Summer Workshop (August 9, August 11). All summer professional development opportunities are available online via Zoom and through recorded sessions.

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
Motivation Teaching EF Tips Working Memory

Motivation Monday: Constructivism

Constructivism is a theory of learning (link opens in new tab/window) that revolves around the idea that learners construct their own knowledge based on personal experiences and within their sociocultural contexts. In other words, knowledge cannot be separated from the context in which it occurs. Constructivists also believe that the motivation to learn is inherent within the learner, personal, and a prerequisite to successful learning.

Why it matters for education

Constructivism posits that many people learn best when they are allowed to discover essential information for themselves after working through a partially guided segment or lesson. (In the SMARTS curriculum, students engage in a metacognitive activator, guided instruction, independent practice, and reflection).

Constructivism also has clear connections to real-world learning across the subjects. For example, one study found(link opens in new tab/window) that students were more motivated to learn science topics when they had more opportunities to relate their learning to real-world issues. 

Takeaways

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
Executive Function Working Memory

Peter Doolittle: How Your “Working Memory ” Makes Sense of the World

“A central issue with working memory is that it’s limited. It’s limited in capacity, limited in duration, limited in focus. We tend to remember about four things…”

Have you ever wondered how working memory helps you make decisions and reach goals on a daily basis? Peter Doolittle, professor of educational psychology in the School of Education at Virginia Tech, strives to understand the processes of human learning. In his TED Talk, Doolittle explores how our working memory helps us make sense of the world and offers strategies to maximize our potential to remember.   

  • “We need to process what’s going on the moment it happens, not 10 minutes later, not a week later, at the moment.”
    • Doolittle explains that reflecting upon our actions and reactions is a critical step towards remembering. He emphasizes the importance of reflecting in the moment or shortly after an event or new learning occurs. When it comes to executive function strategies, students can ask themselves a few simple questions about how well a strategy worked for them and how they could apply it next time. By asking themselves what they’re missing and if they have any questions before moving on to the next lesson or topic, students can ensure that they are building their knowledge on a solid foundation. 
  • “We also need to repeat it. We need to practice.”
    • Doolittle highlights that repeated practice is key to remembering. When planning out SMARTS lessons for the year, it can be beneficial for educators to focus on the quality and depth of lessons over quantity. Students will benefit from repeated exposure to a few strategies paired with reflection so that they can start to understand themselves as learners. 
  • “The last one is support. We all started as novices…”
    • Doolittle’s last suggestion aligns with the many visual supports that are included in the SMARTS curriculum. It is important that we draw upon the benefits of presenting information in multisensory ways; providing students with reflection sheets, exit tickets, and time to ask questions can help them process what they are learning. 

“…the take-home message from a working memory capacity standpoint is this: what we process, we learn. If we’re not processing life, we’re not living it.”

To learn more about working memory and how to implement strategies to support your students, check out unit 6 of the SMARTS Curriculum. What working memory strategies can you implement in your life? 

Click here for the link to this TED Talk and to view the transcript and subtitles.

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

Build Your Executive Function Toolkit in 2022

Are you interested in building your Executive Function Toolkit? Join us in February and March to hear from EF experts on topics such as metacognition and motivation, strategies to support students with long-term projects and project-based learning, embedding EF in the general education curriculum, and the intersection of EF and social-emotional learning. Learn more and register today

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org