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Executive Functions 101 - Building Habits for Heart and MInd

Posted by Mollie Shaw on

In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul admonishes his readers to 'take every thought captive' in order to submit those thoughts to the will of God.  This admonishment came to my mind as I considered ways to help students self-regulate their thoughts and emotions at school.  How can I help my student sort and prioritize random thoughts that occur to him or her during class or homework time?

The answer is in the student's self-talk. 

 Students learn truth from parents, church, teachers and from God's Word.  How a student responds to their own distractions reveals their ability to regulate their own thoughts and also reveals their values and priorities. 

Once a wise woman taught me how to declutter my home.  She said to set up three boxes:  trash, give away and keep.  As students encounter random thoughts in the middle of a task, they need to make a quick and decisive choice: 

Do I trash it? ("The moon is green cheese.")

Do I delegate it to someone else?  ("Mom! I forgot to tell you Dad called.")

Do I store it to use later? (I am supposed to put my laundry away before supper.)

Students take captive their thoughts by a) sorting and prioritizing the idea as true, not true, not relevant, not now.  b) replacing the thought with a better idea and prioritizing the importance of the final step, which is c) acting on their decision.

Example:  During a math session, a student has a random thought about a movie.  A student's self-talk a) I liked that movie but b) I can think about it later.  Now I must stay focused to finish this on time.  c) Student rereads math problem and gets back on track. 

What can you do?

Model your own thinking skills by orally expressing your own thought processes when you are distracted and getting yourself back to work.

Call out good focusing behavior, particularly when students are 'tuning out' distractions in order to get it down. "Good focusing, Bob!" 

Find ways to be super positive when you are training how to lasso, tie down and corral those loose thoughts. Otherwise, they can drag our kids across the arena.  Yee haw!

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