6 Strong Executive Functioning Skills For Middle School Students

Making a plan using executive functioning skills.

Executive functioning skills are a set of cognitive abilities that are essential for goal-directed behavior and self-regulation. These skills enable individuals to plan, prioritize, initiate, monitor, and modify their own behavior in order to achieve their goals.


For parents and educators, it is important to understand that executive functioning skills develop gradually over time, and that children may need support and guidance as they learn to use these skills effectively. Some common executive functioning skills include:

  1. Working memory: the ability to hold and manipulate information in your mind over a short period of time.
  2. Inhibitory control: the ability to stop yourself from acting impulsively and to resist distractions or temptations.
  3. Cognitive flexibility: the ability to shift your thinking and adapt to changing situations or demands.
  4. Planning and organization: the ability to break down a complex task into smaller, more manageable steps and to create a plan for completing those steps.
  5. Time management: the ability to manage your time effectively, set priorities, and meet deadlines.
  6. Emotional regulation: the ability to manage your emotions and to respond appropriately to different situations.

Overall, understanding executive functioning skills and supporting their development can help children become more effective learners and better able to navigate the demands of daily life.

Executive functioning and the middle school student

For a middle school student, executive functioning skills can play a critical role in their academic performance and social interactions. For example, a student with strong executive functioning skills may be able to:

  • Plan and prioritize their homework assignments, breaking them down into manageable steps and completing them on time.
  • Organize their school materials and schedule, so they can find what they need and stay on track.
  • Focus on important tasks and filter out distractions, allowing them to concentrate on their work and retain information better.
  • Set goals for themselves and work toward them, building a sense of achievement and motivation.
  • Manage their emotions and behavior, so they can regulate their impulses and interact effectively with others.

On the other hand, a student with weak executive functioning skills may struggle with some or all of these tasks. For example, they may:

  • Procrastinate on assignments or struggle to complete them on time, leading to poor grades and frustration.
  • Forget to bring important materials to school or lose track of their schedule, causing them to miss deadlines or appointments.
  • Get distracted easily by social media, conversations, or other stimuli, making it hard to concentrate on their work.
  • Have trouble setting goals or sticking to them, leading to a lack of motivation and direction.
  • Experience difficulty regulating their emotions or behavior, leading to impulsive or inappropriate actions that can harm their relationships with peers and adults.

In short, executive functioning skills are essential for middle school students to succeed academically and socially.

6 Strong Executive Functioning Skills For Middle School Students

Executive functioning and Middle school language development

Language development is a complex process that involves many different skills, including phonological awareness, vocabulary, grammar, and pragmatics. EF skills play a role in all of these areas. For example, phonological awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds of language. This skill is important for learning to read and spell. EF skills such as working memory and attention are necessary for phonological awareness.

Vocabulary is the ability to understand and use words. EF skills such as inhibition and flexibility are important for vocabulary development. Inhibition helps us to resist distractions and focus on the task at hand. Flexibility helps us to switch between different tasks and to adapt to new situations. These skills are necessary for learning new words and for using them correctly in different contexts. The middle school content areas put huge demands on students since most of the academic content is carried in the vocabulary.

Grammar is the system of rules that govern how words are put together to form sentences. EF skills such as planning and organization are important for grammar development. Planning helps us to organize our thoughts and to put them into words in a logical way. Organization helps us to keep track of the different parts of a sentence and to make sure that they are all in the correct order. Writing is a task which taxes our working memory. The middle school curriculum requires students to write throughout their day.

Pragmatics is the use of language in social interactions. EF skills such as perspective-taking and self-monitoring are important for pragmatics. Perspective-taking helps us to understand the point of view of others. Self-monitoring helps us to control our behavior and to make sure that we are communicating in a way that is appropriate for the situation. During the middle school years, peer interactions becomes very important to students. Executive functioning skills help students to develop the self-awareness skills to be successful in most situations.

In conclusion, EF skills play an important role in language development. Children with poor EF skills may have difficulty with phonological awareness, vocabulary, grammar, and pragmatics. This can impact their ability to communicate effectively and to succeed in school and in life.

There are many things that parents and caregivers can do to help children develop their EF skills. These include providing opportunities for children to practice planning, organizing, and self-control. Parents can also help children to develop their language skills by talking to them often, reading to them, and playing language games with them.

To learn more about executive functioning skills:

Executive functioning resources

executive functioning checklists cover

These Executive Functions Checklists are essential documents for IEP meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and student service team meetings. These forms are handy resources to highlight areas of strength and weakness for students who have problems with executive disorders.

Check it out here: