What are cognitive skills?
Executive functions have been a common topic within the scientific field in the past 2 decades. They are lower cognitive processes, but at the same time are crucial for academic achievements, math skills, social skills and overall success in life.
Executive functions allow for thought before action, acquainting oneself with the new, dealing with unforeseen challenges, maintaining attention, standing in one place for a specific amount of time.
Insufficiently developed executive functions are associated with problems such as ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). It is not uncommon for teachers in kindergarten or school to label children as “hyperactive” because they are too “fidgety”. However, this need not be the case. Using executive functions requires effort, and it is often easier to continue doing what we are doing, rather than changing it.
These skills include:
which allows for:
✓ maintaining attention on something or someone
✓ behavioural, emotional, and cognitive self-control, in a way that strong inner urges and allurements can be overcome
✓ managing to do what is required at a given time, like learning or reading, without being influenced by surrounding sounds and stimuli
✓ Working memory
Working memory is a sub-division of memory, which is in charge of maintaining and manipulating information. It has limited capacity.
Working memory allows for:
✓ information processing
✓ Cognitive flexibility
which allows for:
✓ switching attention from one task to another
✓ an easier adaptation to rules
Executive functions training includes tasks which are fun for children and are based on scientific research within the field. The goal of these tasks is to increase children's ability to inhibit the first, sometimes more obvious answer, that comes to mind, as well as to increase the capacity of their working memory.
Who are executive function trainings suitable for?
For children, who:
✓ are labelled as "fidgety" and very active
✓ have problems with concentrating on a given task for the time required
✓ experience difficulties in their social skills because they can not inhibit their wants
For parents, who:
✓ want to enhance their child's overall potential and their academic achievements
✓ want to enhance their child's social skills
Formar and duration of executive function trainings
The overall duration of executive functions trainings is based on the individual capabilities and needs of the child. Periodically during the training, but also at the parent's request, the level of the child's progress is assessed. Based on this, recommendations are given with regards to either continuing or terminating the trainings.
The trainings take place in weekly individual sessions with the child, lasting 50 minutes each.
Fine motor skills training
What are fine motor skills?
Fine motor skills are the ability to carry out activities which require precise and accurate use of each finger. Fine motor skills include holding and using a pen, pencil, scissors, etc. Motor skills are both significantly influenced by and in their own turn influence the social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions of the child. Newly-developed fine motor skills are considered to dramatically stimulate a child’s cognitive development. As early as 2 years of age children begin to show interest in placing symbols on paper. They become deeply engrossed in making “scribbles”, which are initially uncoordinated and aimless movements, however are often positioned in a way that achieves a certain level of visual balance. Bit by bit this line-drawing becomes more coherent – circles and dots are added to lines as the motor control of the child develops further. The period between and 3 and 4 years of age is thought to be critical in developing fine motor skills. This is the period during which the pincer grab should be mastered. It is precisely during this period that the parent of caregiver needs to show the child the correct way to position the fingers on the writing tool. Repeated practice of this skills is also required.
The tasks implemented within the fine motor training are known and fun for the children. They include doing jigsaw puzzles, drawing, colouring, using scissors, grabbing and manipulating small objects, gluing and modelling.
Who are fine motor skills trainings suitable for?
✓ Children whose parents want to give them a better preparation for preschool education.
✓ Children who need to put more effort into the development of these skills
✓ Children who are experiencing difficulties in fine motor talks and require some help in improving
Format and duration of fine motor skills training:
The trainings do not usually last long. They include a few consultations in order to determine the level of fine motor skills, during which the parents are given recommendations regarding what tasks they should have their children do at home.