Reading Together: 5 Ways to Promote Executive Function Skills

bookexamplesReading with your children is wonderful for countless reasons.  It has become part of a daily routine for millions of children during bedtime rituals, story times at the library, and circle time at school.  The time spent reading can be valuable for many developmental skills, including executive functioning skills.  Executive functioning skills include higher level skills such as…

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


readingHere are 5 ways you can build executive functioning skills while reading with your child:

  1. Learn to stop and make predictions.  For example, while looking at the book cover, “What do you think this story is about?”  At a moment of suspense, “How do you think they will find the treasure?”
  2. Encourage the child to look at the pictures and tell you a story.  This promotes creativity, sequencing of events, and communication skills.
  3. Change the story.  This is a great activity with stories that your child has memorized.  Work together to change the story by imagining “what if?” together.  “What if Clifford won’t take his bath?” “What if llama, llama had blue pajamas?”
  4. Form opinions.  Help your child have an opinion about the story.  Start with something simple, such as a favorite part of the story, then move to complex opinions or judgments, such as “What made Sister Bear a good friend?” “What would you do if you were Emily Elizabeth?”  Encourage conversation about the opinions and challenge each others respectfully.
  5. Find something you don’t know.  Ask questions about things you don’t know while reading, then encourage finding the answers.  “I wonder what kiwi plants look like, let’s go google it.” social story books

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.