Executive Function Strategies Blog

Inside a Master's Mind: How Chess Builds Executive Function Skills

2020 was a year filled with discovering (or rediscovering) new activities to keep us occupied in a COVID world: the joy of baking banana bread, learning a new instrument, decluttering long-neglected areas of our homes - and, more recently, the mental workout of playing chess. Thanks to the popular Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit,” chess has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. And unlike the extra pounds you may be carrying from those kitchen endeavors, it turns out that chess is one of those “good for you” activities - especially when it comes to building Executive Function skills.



What High School Juniors Can Do Now to Make Senior Year Less Stressful

Editor’s note: This week, we feature guest blogger Emily Toffelmire, Senior Manager of Educational Counseling for Bright Horizons College CoachPlease read more about Emily below.

Senior year of high school can be one of the most memorable and fun times in a young person’s life. But for students who put off all things college-app related until then, that first semester can be a stressful and sleep-deprived race against time. If you’re a current high school junior looking to actually enjoy 12th grade, here are four simple things you can start working on now to make the college application process much less stressful.



When Your Technology Fails: 6 Tips for Calm Solutions

Imagine this - it’s the day of your World History exam. You’ve studied all week and are feeling confident. Your workspace is cleared and ready to go. Five minutes before the start time you attempt to log on to the main classroom page. A screen that says “no internet connection” is staring back at you. No, this can’t be happening! There are only four minutes left until everyone else will be starting their exams. At this point, the rest of the house has noticed. Dad is missing an important business call and your sister was logged out of Zoom in the middle of her class. Everyone is frantically running around the house unplugging routers and flipping switches, but nothing is working. The seconds are ticking away that should be spent on your exam and you can’t even send a quick email to your teacher pleading for help or extended time. 



Toxic Positivity: Self Esteem Costs of Poor Executive Function Skills

When I was in grad school, I worked at a gym. One of the things I recall vividly about my time there were the encouraging vibes from personal trainers, group fitness instructors, and the members themselves. People clung to mantras such as “The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow” and “The only bad workout is the one you didn’t do”, and “Be stronger than your excuse.” Phrases such as these were meant to inspire persistence with your workouts. And many times, they did.

As well-intended as these messages were, though, they were sometimes problematic. Sometimes the pain I felt was a sign I should stop the workout -- not push through. Sometimes the excuses were legitimate and necessary reasons for skipping a spin class here and there. It wasn’t until nearly a decade later did I become acquainted with the concept of toxic positivity which allowed me to name what I was feeling in response to these inspirational no-quit quotes.