Car Rides: 5 Ways to Promote Executive Function Skills

child in carThe reality of modern life is that we often spend a lot of time in the car with our children.  This time can be valuable, quality time with our children if we find ways to use it well.  Conversation and activities in the car can help build executive functioning skills, such as…

  • making inferences
  • using logic and reasoning
  • problem solving
  • flexible thinking
  • making predictions
  • critical thinking and skepticism
  • social and conversation skills

Here are 5 ways you can build executive functioning skills during car rides with your child:

child in car

  1. Learn how to answer your child’s questions.  My children talk and ask questions constantly in the car.  Read this post about great ways to answer your child’s questions that will promote higher level thinking skill.
  2. Observe the world around you and wonder about something.  Ask questions such as “what if?” together.  Then seek out answers together.  Older children can be taught to use a smart phone and look up answers while you drive.
  3. Learn to read a map and follow directions.  We often just rely on electronic navigation devices, but there is a lot to be learned from reading a map and following directions.  Give your child the job of navigator on your journey.  Younger children can watch for landmarks (Remind me to turn right at the McDonald’s) and older children can follow printed directions from an online map site to navigate journey.
  4. Listen to a variety of radio music.  Listening to children’s music can get really boring, so take the chance to expose your child to a variety of musical styles.  Find a jazz or oldies station (or get a CD from the local library).  Discuss the music, have opinions, and explore together.
  5. Play car games.  All those silly car games you played as a kid- teach them to your children and enjoy them together.  I Spy, License Plate Game, 20 Questions, and the Alphabet Game.  (Need ideas, check out this post on car games from MiniTime.)child in car

Need other ideas?

Interested in learning more about executive functioning- visit this posts:

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.