What is executive function skills?

Executive Function Skills (EFS) plays a huge part in our ability to think about, plan, and perform everyday tasks. EFS is an umbrella term for describing a group of behavioural and cognitive thinking processes. This includes skills such as planning, prioritising, organising, problem solving, task initiation, impulse control, emotional control and working memory.

EFS develop gradually and at different rates for everyone, however some children can experience much more difficulty in some areas compared to other children. This can lead to frustration, task avoidance, and reduced confidence.

The development of these skills are extremely important for children, as it enables them to become confident and independent individuals and learners. Ensuring foundational skills are well established allows for further skill development to occur effectively.

If a child is experiencing challenges in one or many areas of executive function skills, difficulties may be seen in the following areas:


  • finds it hard to get ready and organised for school independently
  • has trouble following multi-step instructions
  • instructions need to be constantly repeated
  • becomes easily upset with bigger tasks such as cleaning their room or packing their bag
  • relies heavily on visual examples and/or demonstration

Homework / class work:

  • finds it hard to start or complete tasks independently,
  • has difficulty organising their ideas and thoughts on paper,
  • can’t seem to break things down or know where to start
  • lacks problem solving skills and gives up easily
  • poor attention and memory skills
  • can not verbally relay information easily

Play skills:

  • seems to lack motivation and/ or initiation
  • unable to initiate play activities independently
  • has trouble planning or problem solving play situations
  • can lack social awareness or perspectives of others


  • may be impulsive
  • distracted or loses interest easily
  • poor self regulation skills
  • poor emotional control
  • not good at seeing or understanding other people’s points of view

If your child is experiencing difficulties in any of these areas and it is interfering with everyday living and learning activities, please contact us to find out how we can assist and support your child at home and at school.