Fun holiday activities to work on executive functioning skills

During holiday times it is often difficult to think of appropriate activities to occupy your child, never mind finding activities that promote development of skills that will be enjoyable and stimulating at the same time!

Executive functioning is included in activities that consists of planning, organizing, strategizing, practicing inhibition and paying attention. These skills help our kids o finish their work on time at school and impacts their entire day by being able to plan their routines and complete it.  Playing games with your kids can help improve these skills as well as give you some quality time together!

Games you can play with your preschool child

  1. Hide and seek games like peek-a-boo: this game develops working memory to remember what happens next, it works on inhibition to wait for the appropriate time to react as well as develops the ability to paying attention.
  2. Songs or rhymes with movement and repetition: such as twinkle twinkle little star, itsy bitsy spider: remembering the lines targets working memory, your child pays attention to what they need to sing as well as works on inhibition to wait for the correct movement that goes with the songs.
  3. Role play games by for example pretending that you are a mommy or a fireman: this teaches and improves following rules and inhibiting actions that don’t belong with the role they are playing.
  4. Matching games: this teaches cognitive flexibility as well as works on attention and inhibition.
  5. Sorting games such as sorting shapes, colors or objects:this works on working memory, attention and inhibition.
  6. Simple puzzles: building puzzles develop working memory

Games you can play with your 5-7 year old child

  1. Card games such as Uno and board games such as checkers: These games help you practice cognitive flexibility.
  2. Musical chairs and dodgeball: these games require paying attention and practicing inhibition
  3. Simon Says: improves attention, inhibition and cognitive flexibility.
  4. Solving puzzles and brain teaser books: these games improve problem-solving abilities as well as cognitive flexibility.
  5. I spy with my little eye: this game develops working memory and attention.

Games to play with your 8-12 year old child

  1. Card games and board games: these games exercise working memory, quick decision making, and practices developing game-based strategies. Some examples of these are Hearts, Bridge, Rummy cup
  2. Physical activities that require constant monitoring of your environment like soccer, baseball, and flashlight tag.
  3. Playing music or a musical instrument, singing, and dancing: This improves attention, cognitive flexibility and inhibition.
  4. Brain teasers, crossword puzzles, math and number puzzles, and spatial puzzles (like a rubik’s cube): these games improve working memory, flexibility and cognitive flexibility.
  5. Minecraft: this works on working memory, attention and inhibition.
  6. Jenga: improves self-monitoring, flexible thinking and inhibition through impulse control.
  7. Chess: Planning and prioritizing, organization, task initiation, impulse control and flexible thinking.

Games to play with your 13-18 year-old child

  1. Focus on activities that promote the planning process. Even learning to help with the laundry or a multi-step activity such as baking a cake or cookies.
  2. Strategy games and logic puzzles: these exercises working memory, planning and attention.
  3. Yoga and meditation: this develops sustained attention, reduce stress and improve decision making.
  4. Board games such as mind trap: this works on flexible thinking, inhibition and sustaining your attention.
  5. Mine craft: this works on working memory, attention and inhibition.