Defining Executive Functioning

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Executive functioning differs from self-regulation skills. When you think about self-regulation and executive functioning, how do you envision the difference?  Read below to learn more about executive functioning.

Executive Functioning

McCloskey (2011) defines executive functioning as a diverse group of cognitive processes that contribute to the development of perception, emotion, thought and action. More specifically, “executive functioning [is] a set of multiple cognitive capabilities that act in a coordinated way” (McCloskey, 2011, p. 1) in order to achieve a goal. Children’s ability to engage in planning, being self-regulated to manage behaviours and exhibit goal-directed ideas are part of the executive functioning process. Self-regulation skills contribute to children’s perceiving, feeling, thinking and acting, whereas executive functioning demonstrates what has been learned, how to organize an experience and share learning with others.

Some educators suggest that executive functioning is an overarching term used to describe the neurologically-based skills needed for controlling emotions and self-regulation. Morin has identified eight key executive function skills and some of the characteristics that children exhibit if their executive skills are not fully developed.

Skill Behaviours that Suggest Executive Functioning Skills Require Further Development
Impulse control:
Supports children in thinking before acting.
Children with limited skill may blurt out inappropriate things or engage in unsafe behaviours such as climbing too high for their skill set.
Emotional control:
Supports children in identifying and managing feelings.
Children with limited emotional control may overreact to situations.  They may become distraught when they are criticized or make mistakes.
Flexible thinking:
Supports children in adjusting to new situations or dealing with the unexpected.
Children with more rigid behaviours may exhibit frustrations with sudden change or with different opinions.
Working memory:
Supports children in maintaining key information needed for experiences or perspectives.
Children’s underdeveloped memory skills lead to them having trouble remembering or following directions.
Supports children in evaluating and making adjustments as required for thinking or activities.
Children exhibit negative reactions to feedback or direction given to change behaviour.
Planning and prioritizing:
Supports children in planning and prioritizing their ideas, intended goals, and ways to execute their plans.
Children with weak planning and prioritizing skills may feel challenged to identify how to sequence ideas and implement strategies.
Task initiation:
Supports children in initiating ideas and taking actions that support their plans.
Children may become frustrated because they do not know where or how to start an idea or move from one phase of the idea to the next.
Supports children in keeping track of ideas and materials.
Children may have difficulty remembering their ideas, materials or schedules.

Adapted from Morin (

When you examine these skills and behaviours, what types of experiences and opportunities in outdoor play environments would support children in advancing their executive functioning skills?  What happens when early learning teachers do not take these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy?

Type your answers in the shaded box below, then click the Comment button.


  1. Lise Tougas

    Without the teachers involvement and guidance it is like setting up a child for failure. You can offer suggestions, ask them or others to join to problem solve. Empower the child to make choices. As a teacher you can encourage them to try again or another way, leave it open ended , let them be curious to explore. You could suggest they could wait their turn or play with something else or just sit in their own space.

  2. Barb Keller

    As an educator we have to think of what the environment is working for the children. We need to allow them to make their own decisions. We can offer games that we can talk about our feelings and ways we can make us feel better. If we don’t allow children to develop this thought processes children will not develop their thoughts of perception, emotions, thoughts, and actions.

  3. Angela George

    The freedom for children to choose what they want to do and enough materials and loose parts for children to inspire imaginative play, lots of room to run for the running games they love, and after they have burned off some of their energy and they have more ability to focus then it is time to work on a longer term project such as a garden that will inspire. So many opportunities for teachable moments around the garden, and activities that can lead to building self-esteem, working on memory, working together with other friends, accomplishment, taking turns, patience.

  4. Amanda Rossiter

    Allowing all children a wide range of experiences to meet the needs of all children’s developmental level will support the child as a whole. As educators we should be examining our space to make sure the space will meet the needs of the children participating. Providing children with experiences that can make them feel successful and be supported when success isn’t obtained will help children support their executive learning skills. Supporting through exploration with loose parts, playing simple games, taking turns with building etc will all help children in this area, especially if we as educators can make sure the space can meet the needs of all children!

  5. Tammie Jonasson

    When you examine these skills and behaviours, what types of experiences and opportunities in outdoor play environments would support children in advancing their executive functioning skills? What happens when early learning teachers do not take these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy?

    Through outdoor play experiences, children are able to develop their executive functioning skills. Outdoor play allows for children to create their own games and socialize with peers and work through problems with little to no assistance from educators. The outdoor play environments need to provide children with opportunity to engage in various types of play with various materials and equipment.

    If educators do not take this into consideration we are not allowing children to develop as a whole. This can have negative impacts on children.

  6. Jasmine Beachy

    Most if not all of the activities that children can engage in outdoors support advancing their executive functioning skills. Impulse and emotional skills are demonstrated in group games such as tag and hide and seek. Children learn how to gently play instead of hitting when playing tag and they also learn how to lose at games as well. As a child I remember making up my own games outdoors alone and with others. I used what was around me to guide my play. Flexible thinking and a working memory enabled me to create different worlds and activities around me. If Early Learning Teachers do not take these areas of development into consideration children will not have the opportunity to learn problem solving techniques, remember well, to control frustrations, and they may have behavioural problems. As ECEs it is our responsibility to make sure that all the children that we have the pleasure of connecting with are given these opportunities!

  7. Jenn Hall

    I think it comes down to experience to be able to learn from mistakes or learn how to move forward with developing or adapting new skills. Without the focus as educators, this could lead to many issues with their developmental skills. Being unaware of boundaries for themselves or others (safety, emotional, cultural etc), this could discourage children from feeling comfortable socially, or adapting to unexpected changes and not being able to problem solve. With the focus, I think educators can help children reflect on their actions or their thoughts.

  8. Rachael Ewan

    When you examine these skills and behaviours, what types of experiences and opportunities in outdoor play environments would support children in advancing their executive functioning skills? What happens when early learning teachers do not take these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy?
    Games, pro-social skills, self-help activities such as cleaning up, social games, and building are a few opportunities that help children to develop their executive functioning skills. If early learning teachers do not take these areas of development into consideration, they may be missing chances for skill-building and supporting the child in their optimal development.

  9. Krista Ambrose

    When you examine these skills and behaviors, what types of experiences and opportunities in outdoor play environments would support children in advancing their executive functioning skills? What happens when early learning teachers do not take these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy?
    Children need many different experiences such as building with large items, playing with other children in a sand box or mud kitchen, and they need to know that an adult will be there to help as need.
    If ECEs don not take the areas into consideration, the child will not learn to how to control their impulses, they will not be able to remember what they where doing before and they will become emotional easier.

  10. Jo White

    What types of experiences and opportunities in outdoor play environments would support children in advancing their functioning executive skills?
    What happens when early teachers do not make these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy?
    children need experiences that will include interaction with others, like outdoor kitchen’s maybe working together to plan what they will make, who does what and to be able to do things in order, having the children have access and know where things belong so they may set up and put away things when needed, as well as steps to doing regular things daily to increase their memory skills, projects that they can do individually and together to help them organize and have task for each other to work together, individually, children can plan how they will accomplish theses things together.
    When teachers do not take these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy the children may have poor development in memory, exhibit negative behaviour, unable to communicate or negotiate to fulfill their needs as well as an inability to plan and prioritize they will have difficulty staying on task and completing things.

  11. Jessica Garner

    Outdoor play environments provide a novel, ever-changing, motivating environment in which children can practice executive functioning skills. However, if educators do not take these areas of development into consideration, they may inadvertently “steal” those opportunities from children. For example, if a group of children are working to build a sand castle, an educator may be tempted to offer input and support to ensure the children are successful in building. However, the educator may be missing out on important opportunities to practice executive functioning skills in the process – planning how they will accomplish this task, emotional control and flexible thinking when things do not come out as expected, impulse control to not kick the castle down, etc.

  12. Robert M Brown

    When you examine these skills and behaviours, what types of experiences and opportunities in outdoor play environments would support children in advancing their executive functioning skills? What happens when early learning teachers do not take these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy?

    They outdoor experiences I am able to have with children help with flexible thinking, memory and self-monitoring. We play along the beach in an intertidal zone. The children have to be flexible around the tides because they are variable and an element that we have no control over. The lesson of a naturally occurring daily cycle that we must adapt to is a very powerful message to the children about nature and how we need to learn to live within our surroundings.

    They have to remember where they can play during low, med and high tides and they have to practice self-monitoring and awareness because the beach is always changing.
    When these areas of development are not taken into consideration, children miss out on the chance to develop and build critical skills that will serve them currently and in the future. I feel very lucky have the natural setting that I am able access with the children.

  13. Shannon Stewart

    The natural environment provides opportunities for children to develop their executive function skills given that educators offer enough time and support to use the environment in this way. For example, in the winter the parking lot is cleared and a large hill begins to develop. Educators provide opportunities for children to test their limits and make decisions that are safe but provide opportunity for children to explore. Maybe this hill offers opportunity for children to sled but their are only 2 sleds for the whole group. Taking turns, waiting for turns rather than providing one for each child builds this capacity.

    To support working memory, children learn to follow a few steps and remember these steps time and again through practice. This can occur both indoor and outdoor.

    Children organize their materials. For example, children learn how to put their outdoor clothes on and off throughout the day and must develop a system that works for them. They must also keep track of their items.

  14. Grace Smith

    Organize activities that require kids to practice whole range of executive functioning. introduce memory games, physical activities and play with sets of rules, Model positive behavior, follow routines.

  15. Marianne Glufka

    Your outdoors is one big science, drama etc area. Whatever you do inside the daycare you are able to do outside. But with outside it is a bigger area to play in. If children are given the chance to investigate, play with items found outside they will be better equip to use their executive functioning. If a teacher does not help children develop executive functioning then children will have a hard time developing their skill as thinkers, problem-solvers, navigators and social and emotional functions etc.

  16. Amanda Christison

    When you examine these skills and behaviours, what types of experiences and opportunities in outdoor play environments would support children in advancing their executive functioning skills? What happens when early learning teachers do not take these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy?

    I would say definitely the transition to more natural playground with natural and man made loose parts has certainly helped provide the experiences and opportunities for children to test and strengthen their executive functioning skills. When I watch the children on the playground playing with these parts, I see the executive functioning skills in progress. I see the children delegating tasks and roles, working together to problem solve, testing out theories, sharing roles and responsibilities, working on their frustration tolerance when things go awry. If we do not take these areas of development into consideration in our outdoor play pedagogy a lot of learning opportunities and experiences are missed. In the future, the children may not have the skills for certain tasks or problems as they were not provided the opportunity to fully practice and strengthen them during their outdoor play experiences.

  17. Jasmine Park

    Through outdoor play experiences, children are able to develop their executive functioning skills. Engaging in play with peers, children experience discussion, sharing ideas, negotiating, setting goals, achieving, conflicts, struggles, joy and so on. Those various experiences help children to regulate themselves and develop skills. Interaction with peers, educators and outdoor environment definitely affect to children’s learning and development.

    Therefore, early childhood educators need to take into consideration these area of executive functioning development. If not, we will miss those important learning opportunities to help children to develop various skills. When educators make curriculum of planning, they should understand the purpose of providing certain activities and play. Outdoor play not only helps children to improve their physical health but also supports brain development. It is our role to understand those domains and provide learning opportunities through play.

  18. Dana Wilson

    When you examine these skills and behaviours, what types of experiences and opportunities in outdoor play environments would support children in advancing their executive functioning skills? What happens when early learning teachers do not take these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy?

    I believe that all the experiences and opportunities in outdoor play environments support children in advancing their executive functioning skills. Some specific examples would be planning, building and growing a garden which help with flexible thinking-different children may have different ideas about what to plant, planning and prioritizing-helping children with following a plan/schedule and organization-keeping track of what is planted where, a watering schedule etc.
    Not taking these areas into consideration in planning outdoor play pedagogy can result in children not developing these executive functioning skills because of lack of opportunities.

  19. Nicole Morrell

    Executive function is development of perception, emotion, thought and action. I think a great deal of executive functioning can be developed through the use of loose parts. Children can deal with the unexpected, make adjustments, create things over and over by memory, and take action to support their plans.

  20. Heather Brekkaas

    I think one of the areas in which children can develop executive functioning skills on a playground are around flexible thinking. Playgrounds are not structured, everyone has a different idea of what they want to do and for a child who relies on structure and routine this can be very overwhelming. It is a good place for them to see that things can go in a way they didn’t plan but still be ok.

  21. Amanda Funk

    Developing executive function in an outdoor environment provides opportunities that cannot be mimicked indoors. Through interactions with their environment children can play games structures games that set up an opportunity to practice flexible thinking, they can grow a garden which develop planning, organizing and impulse control. They can experience a bug life cycle and practice using their working memory and emotional control. There are endless example .

  22. Rachelle Gregoire

    It’s important for kids to use their judgment during risky play so they can see what their bodies and minds can do. It’s also important to keep in mind some kids don’t know when to stop, so we need to make sure our play equipment is safe to learn on. Kids need the opportunity to play where they can practice working with others and organizing people and things. They find their place and adjust, or take the lead and come up with complex pretend play situations. If they get overwhelmed or bored, they can leave or move on and do something different at any time!

  23. Jody Anderson

    The types of experiences and skills that would enhance children’s executive functioning skills would be those that are socially based and where the children have had a say in the plans for the experiences. By having those opportunities to socially interact they are learning emotional control when things don’t quite go their way. It is important for them to have experiences that allow for them to expand their abilities to control their own emotions when playing with others or facing challenges in their play. If children are not provided with outdoor play experiences that allow for the child to take the lead and for them to have ownership in their space the other skills may be much slower to develop which will hinder their ability to transfer those skills throughout their learning.

  24. Heather Diewert

    When you examine these skills and behaviours, what types of experiences and opportunities in outdoor play environments would support children in advancing their executive functioning skills? What happens when early learning teachers do not take these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy?

    I would begin with small steps; low to the ground wide wood planks to walk on for example, or simple game such as Mr Wolf with a teacher beside them to co-regulate until a child can begin to self-regulate. This can minimize frustration, and allow a child to slowly develop skills. Having Pic cards with First, second third steps, can assist a child with memory until it becomes a working memory. If frustration does occur, stating, “It’s frustrating when _____ happens!”, to build a child’s awareness of what they are feeling, and that it’s okay to feel these things, and then have them take deep breath’s; blow a leaf etc, and then begin to show them how this is connected to calming down.
    If these areas of development aren’t considered, a child may hurt himself and/or others and set him up for bigger and more challenges in the future.

  25. Xintong Wang

    Outdoor play gives them more opportunities to explore, experience and learn. they are sometimes in an unfamiliar environment where they have to channel to those skills and developments in order to help them through.

  26. Lindsey Cooper

    When we play games with children outside, they are more likely to play them on their own after some practice. Another way is to promote dramatic play outside, children then have opportunities to decide how they want to play with their peers.

  27. Lucie Pendergraff

    I think it is important to remember that children are still learning through exploration what executive function is. It is our role as educators to provide them with a safe way to explore these aspects through activities, experiments and in an emergent style when the opportunity is safe. As we guide them through the learning process, they will develop the ability to take what they have learned and apply it to their play. If we do not provide the opportunities for them, they will likely explore them on their own and not always in a safe or reasonable way.

  28. Suzanne Murti

    Impulse controls- opportunities to learn through natural consequences… ex.
    Take off Jacket in cold weather and become too cold.
    Climb too high- get stuck
    Step in a puddle without appropriate footwear- get a soaker.
    Children learn through their experiences and by making mistakes. On the other side of this as facilitators we can also plan for opportunities to have these experiences in more gradual ways.
    Plan science experiments with water for freezing and melting to test temperatures and have have group time about appropriate clothing for the weather.
    Set up a climbing environment or obstacles courses that give opportunities to test the children’s capabilities and limits and learn about spatial awareness too.
    Plan for puddle jumping by wearing appropriate gear.

    Emotional control- plan games that require cooperative play. Talk through problems and brainstorm solutions together as they come up. Small and large group facilitated activities.

    Flexible thinking- help to build a growth mindset in children by being aware of your language. Its about the way we talk to children to help them become flexible thinkers and build a growth mindset rather than being stuck with a fixed mindset. How do we do this? Validate feelings. Let children know it is ok to make mistakes and that is how we learn. Plan activities with loose parts to help children try different cause and effect experiments through building and science, test theories and problem solve. Ask open-ended questions that allows the child to think and brainstorm why.

    Self monitoring- gather children for group times to talk about why something worked or did not work. Asking questions of why and adding superior knowledge on the reasoning. Group time for reflection!

    Planning and prioritizing- great examples would be to plan and execute a school garden or build outdoor forts and shelters.

    Task initiation- outside Fort building in trees or on the playground structures by bringing out materials like sheets and tarps, clothes pins, bungee cords and rope. Have a group time before hand to discuss what items might be needed and why.

    Organization- in group time for the fort building activity, make a list of what is needed and what was brought out and how many of each. Have the children be responsible for counting and taking inventory of the items brought out. Having a portable storage caddy on casters to hold the materials in and transport them would be beneficial to teaching Organization skills.

    Without opportunities to build on these skills, children will be limited in their problem solving skills and have a harder time self regulating emotions.

  29. Jaclyn Geiger

    I think that if these areas of development are not taken into consideration by teachers, there is a loss of learning potential for the students. When these areas are part of the pre planning and facilitation, focused play in areas of need can be provided in a variety of learning opportunities in the outdoor setting. Some things will come naturally though inquiry and discovery but the depth of learning can grow when certain tasks, experiences and challenges are provided.

  30. Caroline Driedger

    Educators need to understand each child’s strengths and scaffold accordingly. We can have games and loose parts to increase skills, we can help them navigate through frustrations, If educators do not take these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy, it is difficult for children to acquire those skills and it might affect their developments or social settings.

  31. Ai Paul

    It is important for educators to give plenty of space and time for children to practice executive functioning skills. Educator needs to understand each child’s strengths and what skills need to be scaffold. For example, a child who is lacking “impulse control” climbs up too high on a tree, the educator could ask if he/she feels safe (before a child starts climb up). Or a child who is lacking a “planning and organizing” skill, then ask what they do next to make them think about the process. If educators do not take these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy, it is difficult for children to acquire those skills and it might affect their developments or social settings.

  32. Nikki Littlechild

    Loose parts and games that involve some rules to follow or create all provide opportunities for critical thinking and decision making along with enhancing children’s ability to organize their thoughts, ideas and their play with peers in a natural way. When teachers don’t take this into consideration they are not planning for the whole child and overall development. To take children to a playground that only has a play structure they will only utilize something that is prefabricated and fairly close ended play. When providing loose parts, organizing games that involve memory skills, creativity and critical thinking it helps the child to learn valuable skills and enhance their overall executive functioning. In providing these types of activities children also gain plenty of opportunity to manage their emotions when things may not always go as they hope they will go. They then engage in negotiating conflict, critical thinking and general problem-solving more which involves some really tricky emotions and opportunity to explore thoughts and feelings and find ways to cope with them and express them.

  33. Angel Huang

    When you examine these skills and behaviours, what types of experiences and opportunities in outdoor play environments would support children in advancing their executive functioning skills?
    For me when I’m at work, during outdoor play time, I usually let the children go wild and free; yet at the same time make sure they are safe. I believe outdoor play is for them to release their energy, stress and giving them a break. If some children wants to build something with the nature materials or some just want to quietly watch the ants crawl, it’s alright. They should have the time to enjoy what they want and need. While enjoying their outdoor play time, I believe they are already advancing their executive functioning skills.

    What happens when early learning teachers do not take these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy?
    If ECCE doesn’t take these areas of development into consideration, you will likely see children have emotional problems, or slow down the growth of a children’s ability both mentally or physically.

  34. Maria Agustin

    Let the children have free outdoor play like running, climbing, jumping and provide them some materials to used for playing in order for them manage their emotions and memory skills to develop their Executive Skills.

  35. Betty-Ann Ryz

    Structuring outside play with memory games, critical thinking tasks, chances for exploration, running, jumping, imaginative play and opportunities to plan, manage and implement children’s ideals.
    Lack of executive functioning skills creates an enabled low self-esteem child.

  36. Anita Diepdael

    Executive functioning:
    One idea is to provide children with lots of outdoor space. It will allow children to run, jump, skip, invent, climb, scream and explore. Children will learn to manage their emotions, improve memory skills, provide flexible thinking and much more.

    I think that if educators do not take these skills and behavior’s in mind with their outdoor pedagogy, there is a chance educators will be missing out on some important opportunities to teach and help children learn self regulation. It would cause the child to miss out on curtail learning and development.

  37. Brittany Dowling

    Children need playspaces that are open-ended, flexible, and ever-adapting to meet the needs of the group. Without a variety of options or experiences, children will stay where they are at instead of taking the opportunity to explore, attempt, or even just observe what is happening. They also need supportive adults and encouragement from peers to engage with the material provided. Educators should be aware of the children who need support in developing their executive functioning skills, and thus, support those children in building the skills necessary to grow in this area.

  38. Pamela Casorso

    Children need a space where they can run, jump climb, yell and play freely, ( with in reason ). The space needs to be someplace where the children can plan, build and accomplish and learn and understand the benefits and consequences to their actions.
    When teachers don’t take these areas of development into consideration the children’s behaviors change they don’t learn to have faith in what they can do.

  39. Anna Mary McKenney

    If an outdoor learning environment is overwhelming or not developmentally appropriate educators must understand that this will effect the executive functioning of their children. They will need more assistance from educators and will not engage in a productive way, its important to reflect on our spaces and change them accordingly

  40. Kecia Alexis

    As the educators, we should try and keep in mind to start off with stuff we know our group of children can do, then scaffold from there, because what I find that happens if we start off with something too hard the children get frustrated and want to give up right away. But if we start off with something they can do, and scaffold from there and challenge them a bit.

  41. Kimberley Thompson

    We as educators should be observing the children for their interests and ideas . We can supor6these ideas and plan activities around them .

  42. Hilary Geddes

    As educators we must build environments in which children have opportunities to explore new concepts and challenge their abilities as this foster overall growth. When conflict or frustrations arise we must challenge the children to regulate and try again.

  43. Mizuho Kashiwagi

    executive functioning:
    It seems to me that free outdoor play will give children lots of opportunities to develop their executive functioning skills. If teachers give the children rules and structures too much, then children will lose the chance to “think” their idea to play in order to make their play fun and safe.

  44. Christine Villeneuve

    The first thing that comes to mind is planning a garden. This experience would support children’s executive functioning across a number of skills. From planning and prioritizing (what kind of garden would we like?), to task initiation (the cycle of plants, we start from a seed), to flexible thinking (if seeds don’t germinate) and organization (checking the garden daily for growth, soil and water, plant food, replanting, etc.). Educators can think of a multitude of outdoor experiences that help children develop their executive functioning skills.

  45. Daphne Hachey

    recognizing the challenges children are facing and identifying the possible Antecedents is important if we want to help children develop and grow. recognizing executive function and giving children support and resources to adjust and progress in their development with encouragement and structured questions, activities and ideas that will help them to improve their executive functioning

  46. Nadira Ramnauth

    Teachers should make visual schedules, this will help the children to know what activities are coming next. We should give the children the opportunity to take risks. Risky play helps the children to gain confidence. Taking the children on walks, letting them draw pictures of what they saw and then creating a book for their pictures will help them to memorize what they saw. We can also play memory games with the children. Teachers can let the children set up the outdoor environment with their ideas. We provide them with toys and other materials. This will help the children brainstorm ideas of their own. Children love helping adults set up environments. They know that their work is being valued when they are being included. We need to give children these opportunities in order for them to gain confidence and to help them reach the developmental stage where they are suppose to be.

  47. Shirley Robinson

    I see children that don’t get to do outdoors are not very sure on how to help or play with other children, I see some just sit and watch, where it would be mine call them over and work with them on joining in, teachers that don’t encourage children to join outdoor activities would be not letting them explore their mind.

  48. Trisha Nalleweg

    As an educator, I believe outdoor play provides lots of experiences and happenings for children to support executive functioning skills. Loose parts play a big role in my environment. These materials support skill building, working memory, control, reworking, planning and solving . Executive functioning is so key to developing social skills, paving the way for a lifetime of success

  49. Mercy santiago

    I think the child development will be slower and like early learning teachers is our responsibility observing each child in an individual way and give them the tools for a healthy development

  50. Carli Olson

    Not allowing for challenging or “leveling up” of activities outside wont enhance the learning of all these skills. As educators we need to be scaffolding their learning and help build those connections. Frustration is bound to happen but then it gives opportunities to learn how to self regulate.

  51. Silvia Martínez

    As an educator we need to provide children with every possible resources for children to explore their skills and know their limits day by bay

  52. Minni Harris

    Outdoor play is limitless in creativity with natural materials and allowing children to discover and plan activities and discuss process of how can we get to the top of the dome or how can we get to top of the jungle gym. Turn taking is being learned during this process and staff can be role models of behavior we would like to the children to learn.

  53. Ruth Novak

    If we don’t allow them to go outdoors to explore or play, they will not develop the right skills later in life. I would bring in games like tag , hide and seek and even “what time is Mr Wolf”?
    These really work on their social skills when waiting their turn. If we do not play games like that children will not learn impulse control or how to share.

  54. Trina Kelly

    I think it’s crucial to involve yourself in the children’s play, as it helps you as an educator to help them, in the areas that’s needed help. Whether it is helping with their vocabulary skills, large/small gross skills, their emotional/social skills, etc. It will also help you to learn how each child acts, reacts differently to their ever changing environment.

  55. Cindy Spencer

    As educators we must model the behaviors we expect of the children. Being involved in their play, their choices, their opportunities so we can also learn how each child thinks, behaves, acts so that if they are lacking in an area we can provide more activities to enhance that area for each child. Being involved is key, modelling is key, listening and observing is key, as each child is unique and may be stronger in one area than another, or using the children that are strong in one area to help their peers who may lack in that area is also a benefit as children learn faster by watching and listening to their peers.

  56. Laura Mcintosh

    I think that involving yourself in the play is very important in advancing a child’s executive functioning skills for you are given the opportunity to see the learning happen rather then just supervising it from afar. Not taking all of these factors into consideration would not give children the opportunity to have ample learning opportunities,

  57. Kara Booth

    Children are able to use these experiences to help develop their social skills. If educators are not considering these thinking they are being held back from opportunities to foster these skills.

  58. Jasvinder Heran

    As educators supporting the development of executive function is a continuance journey in engaging alongside children to build, labelling and provide opportunities to help children describe emotions, self-regulate, act, perceive, memorize all the cognitive processes within an outdoor environment. To create spaces and interaction, the immerses children in practicing of skills.
    With the use of time, space, material, and responsive relations, this is achievable.

    We also need to be aware if a skill needs to be developed further and provide scaffolding possibilities alongside the child or children.
    If skills have not been developed, children will exhibit other behaviours such as frustration, limited emotional control, and unsafe behaviours, to name a few.

  59. Janice Duncan

    Providing children with open-ended materials, loose parts helps facilitates planning skills so does picking up toys and sorting for clean-up. Older children playing games like red light, green light, what time is it Mr. Wolf helps with impulse control. Having physical boundaries and letting the children know before they go outside where they can play helps with impulse control. Teaching and modelling emotional vocabulary throughout the day helps children learn to notice and name their feelings. Teaching “calm down” techniques during group times helps children to learn how to regulate their emotions. Sliding in beside children in the sandbox who need assistance with labelling and managing their emotions, helps them to develop emotional control.

  60. Daniela Rodriguez

    In the long-term, these skills will allow further personal growth. For children, learning these skills means they will know how to act when exposed to a variety of situations. Outdoor play is the bridge they should cross to have greater access to learning all of the skills. Interacting with others is a great way to self-regulate and, furthermore, challenges in the activities can seem a bit of a struggle at the beginning, but eventually they provide growth in multiple aspects.

  61. Carrie Maclellan 

    As educators sometimes it is easier to develop a play space as fun as opposed to making it more difficult and challenging for the children. In adding situations that are beyond the children’s current capabilities, you may experience frustrations in the children but you are really scaffolding their learning by giving them opportunities to demonstrate and grow their executive functioning. If these considerations are not made by educators then the children will not advance and reach their full potential.

  62. Erin Lihou

    If the early learning teachers do not support these area’s of development, then we have already failed them as teachers. We are the first one’s to engage and support these developments for children.

  63. Bonnie Willson

    I think all activities that we take part in outside are aided by executive functioning. When we play with others we are working on impulse control, emotional control and self monitoring. When we build things with sand or sticks or anything else we find, we are learning planning and prioritizing and flexible thinking. The more opportunities we give the children to practice all these skills, the better the chance they will master these skills. And if they are having difficulties, we can be there to assist them.

  64. Nicole Robinson

    When you examine these skills and behaviours, what types of experiences and opportunities in outdoor play environments would support children in advancing their executive functioning skills?
    Risky play, rough and tumble play, choices, and the space to make mistakes then being given the time to solve it on their own. etc.

    What happens when early learning teachers do not take these areas of development into consideration in their outdoor play pedagogy?
    When teachers don’t help children develop their executive functioning, children do not learn how to control their behaviour, how to take appropriate risks, use creative thinking to solve problems, etc. These skills must be developed both at home and at school in order for the consistency to be of maximum benefit to the children.

  65. Kathy Barnhart

    Understanding the behaviours that show us a child is still developing these executive functioning skills provides content and opportunities for educators to plan space, time, materials , and participation in outdoor play. When children are limited in their play opportunities, they can become stressed and frustrated. Educators need to be aware of signs that this is happening to prevent or assist a child while these skills are developing.

  66. Ginette Pelletier

    We are learning along with the children.
    We develop appropriate learning opportunities for them.
    Also we must be aware that children learn at their own pace.
    The chance to be outside with the children can be a teachable moment.
    In working together co-workers can model behaviour and emotional control to the children.
    Children are always watching what we do.

  67. Stephanie Vieira

    As Educators we should try and keep the children busy if we see them down or they don’t know what to do. If we don’t take these areas development into consideration in their outdoor play is children might get bored, angry that we’ll turn into a fight. We have to try and make sure to keep them busy with interest they enjoy.

  68. Katarina Ninkovic

    When you do not take the time to make the outdoor environment the absolute best it can be for those children,they will get bored… and I’m sure we all know when children get bored we start to see those behaviour issues start to come up, creating a stressful environment for everyone !!

  69. Kamaldeep Sidhu

    At outdoor,provide open ended play materials and opportunities,develop their executive functioning skills. We can do this by art and science projects.This environment can help the children to learn how to control their behaviour.

  70. Nazia Mir

    We need wide spaces with safe environments for outdoor play where children can make their own plans and take decisions .Where children are free to do whatever they want.

  71. Jennifer Yarmish

    As ECEC’s we really are constantly learning along side the children. We strive to foster a developmentally appropriate outdoor learning environment for the age group that we are working with yet need to stay flexible with the knowledge that all of the children have their own unique place in that spectrum of learning at that moment. The opportunity for the children to be outside and working along side each other and the adults can develop impulse/emotional control and self monitoring when dealing with space issues and the potential to need to wait for what they really want. As adults we need to acknowledge the importance of not always providing ‘one for everyone’ as this isn’t always a realistic scenario.
    It’s important to provide both group and individual spaces even outdoors to allow children the chance to ‘take a breath’ and regroup when anxious, tired or frustrated. Having spaces that are risky but safe allow for the opportunity for children to push their physical and mental boundaries (supervised but not excessively controlled by the adults).
    Even the consideration given to the weather allows for learning and self-regulation as the children will develop skills and understanding around what we need to be able to be comfortable outdoors in different seasons and climates.
    If, as ECEC’s, we don’t provide these opportunities for the children it will affect their long term ability to be able to work through frustration, feel confident in their decision making and understanding of how to keep themselves safe and healthy.

  72. Patricia Lynch-Staunton

    Knowing the children’s level of executive functioning is critical for consideration of an educator’s outdoor play pedagogy. As with any environment, educators plan and execute what they know to be developmentally appropriate. For instance, a child with limited impulse control needs more experiences to calculate risk in a safe manner. Therefore, the number and configuration of jumping off platforms would be lower to the ground and more frequent. Swinging, climbing, and hanging opportunities from trees, ladders, ropes and nets would have pre-defined parameters to provide the repetitive experience, yet be safe as the child might miscalculate when thinking through the action before staring. Opportunities to retreat to quite secluded spaces are helpful for children to practice identifying and managing how they feel. Open-ended, multi-purpose materials (loose parts) support children in developing flexible thinking. Pedagogical documentation so that the children can re-visit their past play experiences can help with working memory and organization. Also, setting up the environment with defined spaces, in line with the naturally occurring landscape, helps young children know where to go and what to do when they get there, which supports planning and prioritizing and task initiation. Educators’ commitment to participating as a co-learner, making suggestions, not being intrusive in children’s play, gives children the time and space needed to self-monitor.

  73. Lorraine Kok

    By not taking Executive functioning in to consideration during outdoor play Hinders a child’s development and social skills as an early childhood educator I believe that we must take all of these skills into consideration as we are trying to give them a headstart in life.

  74. Amanda N

    The opportunities created by outdoor play can be very significant in children’s lives. As educators, we should embrace this way of teaching even though sometimes it’s hard depending on where your centre is located. Outdoor play gives children the chance to create, organize their ideas and put them into practice; at the same time children, observe and learn with one another and try hard to control themselves while fighting for their ideas and concepts.

  75. Christine Norman

    All outdoor play activities, experiences and opportunities can help children with further advancing their executive functioning skills. Children are able to run, climb and jump and figure out what their bodies can do to help regulate impulse control. Children are able to plan, organize and work on a task but be flexible when things may change and go differently then they wanted. When early learning teachers do not take these developmental areas into consideration children are not able to continue working on and developing these areas during play. Early learning teachers need to reflect on these areas to create an environment that allows for opportunities for children to develop all areas.

  76. Mikaela Reyes

    Children in all ages needs to be exposed with activities that exposes them in risky play, group play, task-oriented play, and open-ended activities. Through these experiences, children will be able to learn to manage their emotions better and have a peaceful way of thinking or processing situations. I know that these activities happen everyday in childcare centres but with an adulting scaffolding every step to achieve these skills, children will develop confidence in themselves that will soon transition them to independently facing problems/issues while playing with peers or sudden changes in the environment.

  77. Deborah Fehr

    Outdoor play is more freeing or at least can be more freeing simply due to the amount of space. Since adults have more to monitor, children are better able to learn to work things through in their own way. To resolve their own conflicts, solve their own problems, be more creative and imaginative. The more natural the play space the greater the benefit for the children. Mud kitchens, loose parts, gardens, trees, room to run and bike, places to climb all contribute to great developmental opportunities for the children.

  78. Prabhulata Immaraju

    Definitely having a play yard with ample challenges eg trees, boulders, water play, mud kitchen, loose parts and also planning games that encourage turn taking, sharing, working together to build something, planning a field trip together ( thinking of / coming up with rules that will make it safe n fun), playing memory/ literacy games, will help children to use their executive functioning skills and help us identify children who are demonstrating that they need further development, so we can work alongside them and provide them opportunities to better manage their executive functioning skills.

  79. Heather Howard

    The outdoor play environment wants to be large enough for the children to explore independently or with others to support flexible thinking and so they can make plans and achieve their goals. Providing loose parts and open ended materials allows the child to organize and build memory skills. When these skills are being supported it will in turn support elf-regulation for children to be able to manage their thoughts, feelings and emotions.

  80. Jessica Popp

    Open ended play materials and opportunities provide for a child to further develop their executive functioning skills. This can be demonstrated in the use of a mud kitchen, children are engaging, planning and carrying out their kitchen plans.

  81. Joanne Falk

    Bringing loose parts outside teaches the children executive functioning skills. They will have to learn to share with their classmates, either show or tell their friends what it is that they’re planning on doing with the loose parts, some of the friends may not like the idea and give an idea, they then have to compromise and figure out a way that they can work together and as well as play together.

  82. Alphonsine Hategekimana

    The outdoor play can help the child to define and learn how to control his behavior. When the space is large, the educator is able to manage a situation in relation to the interior of the classroom. To control an emotion of a child or a child who is impulsive, you can choose an activity like construction where each child can participate, share ideas and work together to get a result. During this time you can encourage the child by showing him/her how to control him/herself, share and exchange ideas so that the work is easier for everyone.

  83. Anita Morgan

    There are many ways, an example, building a snow fort includes task initiation, organization and planning, teamwork, and adjustments as needed.
    Adding loose parts and open ended items can also help children gain self regulation.

  84. Alison Rinas

    Executive function is the planning and executing of ideas that a child has to scaffold and communicate to themselves or friends in what they are going to explore or build in an outdoor environment. The Self-regulation is how outcome of the executing the plan, and how a child manages their emotions or not – as things don’t always go as plan or a friend doesn’t quite listen to way you described your idea and that is where problem solving comes into play in understanding and learning more about our emotions.

  85. Taylor Aichelberger

    There are so many ways that outdoor play environments could help support the development of executive functioning skills. For example, the task of children constructing a fort outdoors could include the development of task initiation (deciding to build a fort), planning and prioritizing (coming up with a plan for how to build it), organization (collecting the materials), impulse control (recognizing how high to climb, etc), emotional control (working collaboratively and/or managing expectations), and flexible thinking (adjusting their plan as needed). When educators do not take these areas of development into consideration when developing their outdoor play pedagogy, they miss/overlook opportunities to facilitate valuable learning and growth for their children. This can be done by providing provocations outdoors, playing games, creating art projects, and doing experiments. The options for learning outdoors are endless, but educators need to be informed, purposeful and intentional in their planning and the ways that they hold space for children.

  86. Nikki Meyer

    Having loose parts in an outdoor environment builds executive functioning when children organize materials, plan and initiate their ideas, make adjustments as necessary for their planning and goals to take shape and working with other children in determining roles and managing feelings.

  87. Andrea Preissl

    Outdoor risky play can play a large part in developing executive functioning skills. For example, children are playing on the slide and they’re stopping at the bottom to let the others crash into them. The children have to be mindful of the social skills they already have. Are they crashing too hard? Is everyone still consenting? They learn if they crash too hard, or if they are overly emotional during the play then the play stops. If an educator does not consider these areas of development, it may hinder the learning and development of the children.

  88. Charmee Penner

    I think that if educators do not take these skills and behavior’s in mind with their outdoor pedagogy, there is a chance that educators would miss out on some important scaffolding that could take place and may even miss on some of the deeper learning that children are interested in discovering in their play.

  89. Susanne Saunders

    Not taking these areas of development into consideration will hurt the child’s development. It would cause the child not to move ahead with skills need to advance.

  90. Romy Ralph

    There are so many things that could help them advance their executive functioning skills outdoors even as simple as a climbing frame. They need to think before doing, possibly adjust thinking, plan with a peer who goes first. What they want to achieve? Can they manage their feelings if they don’t reach their goal?

  91. Annette Casey

    Giving children chances to plan, gather items for projects. Helping children work thru emotions and feelings.

  92. Svetlana Babikova

    I believe outdoor play provides lots of experiences and opportunities for children to support children in advancing executive functioning skills. For example, task initiation, where children can initiate play to build a fort or another play experience. If an educator does not consider all areas of development into consideration, children can have fewer opportunities for holistic development.

  93. Randi Robertson

    I think that there are many games you can introduce to your students that teach them executive functioning skills. Playing games such as tag or hide and go seek not every one likes the be the person who is the “tagger” or the “looker” most kids like the be the one running away or the hider, this teaches the kids that everyone has to have their turn of being it and that its just part of the game. I think that this teaches them that they have to manage their emotions they are having with the situation and also shows them that it is only fair! Kids are constantly developing new skills and abilities but their are many ways to show kids executive functioning skills.

  94. Kim Hoey

    As ECE’s we need to give the children experiences so that they learn how to manage their emotions, develop memory skills, and learn impulse control. As some examples. Once they have some experiences and can better manage their way through things, they will better manage their executive learning skills.
    Some experiences that we could provide would be to play a few games. Children always like to be the winner. Not everyone can be though.. Here is an opportunity to talk about feelings and give them ways to manage th emotion. Also to work on their memory skills. Give them a task of going to get 2 or 3 items for you. This is a great way to work on memory.