By: Colette Hapi
Have you ever wondered about the correlation between executive function skills and mathematics?
Many do not realize that there is a major correlation between executive function skills and success in mathematics. Executive function skills are especially essential when solving complex problems because they require prioritization due to the fact that operations must be solved in a specific order. They also require impulse control because the student needs to stick with these problems long enough to completely solve them. Organization skills are also a necessity because the student needs to know which formula to apply and where to look to find the right ones. Finally, flexible thinking, which is the skill that focuses on a student’s ability to adapt to new situations, improvise, and shift strategies to meet different types of challenges, is necessary to help the student solve multi-steps problems.
We’ve found that students with executive dysfunction often struggle with math because they find it hard to shift from one type of problem to another (flexible thinking). They often have trouble with working memory, which can make it hard to solve multi-step problems. These students usually rush through their math homework and are therefore careless about the process. They often tend to give automatic answers to math problems. It is also not uncommon for them to get lost in the middle of complex math problems, and they are often unable to catch their mistakes.
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