Monday, December 18, 2017

Library Services for Children Journal Club: Executive Function

Far too long ago I blogged about a great professional development opportunity: the Library Services for Children Journal Club. This project was started by Lindsay Krabbenhoft of Jbrary and provides a chance for children's staff in libraries to discuss research articles relating to our work. Before tackling January's articles I wanted to post my thoughts about the first two journal club articles on the topic of executive function.

What is executive function?
Executive function is said to be the brain's "air traffic control" system, and involves areas such as working memory, inhibitory control and mental flexibility.

My favorite insights from the article
  • Developing these skills continues throughout childhood and through into adolescence. This is definitely a far longer time period than I had previously considered.
  • Executive function skills are important when it comes to school readiness. They provide a foundation upon which other knowledge and skills are built.
  • Childhood experiences help shape these skills Stressful childhood experiences and adverse environments can impair the development of executive function skills on neurological level.
  • Targeted interventions have been shown to help protect and improve executive function skills.
  • Kids who display a lack of executive function are not "bad" kids.
  • Parents and those who work with children can benefit from learning all the ways they can encourage the development of these skills at early stages.

How can we support executive function at the library?
  • Providing opportunities for play for all ages. As the first article on the topic states social play is considered "an important practice ground for the development of executive function skills." I try to provide opportunities for games in my storytimes and school age programs, so I was glad to have the benefits of this practice reaffirmed.
  • Creating an environment where kids have the opportunity to practice executive function skills in a fun manner. We do this through routine children's program activities. For instance, in storytime we take turns, repeat songs, and follow simple directions.
  • Making parents aware of how we are doing these things in our programs, and suggesting ways they can continue the practices at home.

There is definitely a lot more to think about related to executive function. I've really enjoyed seeing others post on the topic, and appreciate the opportunity to think more deeply about it. I'm looking forward to reading and posting about the next Journal Club articles!

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