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How Strengthening Cognitive Skills Can Help...Even If Your Child is Already Smart!

How Strengthening Cognitive Skills Can Help...Even If Your Child is Already Smart!

As you’ve watched your child learn and grow, you’ve picked up on more than a few ways they’re intellectually ahead of their peers. You don’t want to brag except to Grandma and Grandpa, of course, but there’s no doubt in your mind: you’re raising one very smart child.

Every once in a while you notice something that seems a little out of line with their genius but you ignore it. Whatever it is will work itself out as they grow, right? Their clothes won’t always be wadded up in their drawers or strewn around their room. Eventually, they’ll remember to do things you tell them to do. They won’t always run out the door for school at the last possible second, nearly missing the bus every single day.

Or will they?

Even smart kids can struggle with weak executive skills

The reality is, many smart and gifted kids struggle. Upon closer inspection, weak executive skills often lie at the heart of this struggle.

Executive skills are higher-level thinking skills that allow a child to regulate their thinking, behavior and emotions.

The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University describes them this way: [Executive skills] enable your child to plan, focus attention, remember instructions and juggle multiple tasks successfully...The brain needs [these skills] to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals and control impulses.

Parents and teachers will often observe weak executive functioning skills in otherwise bright children. Early in school, these higher-level thinking skills are needed for keeping their desk organized, engaging appropriately with other kids and regulating their emotions. As children move into high school, executive skills help students dissect and interpret poetry, utilize deductive reasoning and write compelling papers all while effectively managing their time and keeping their materials organized.

Strategies that can help your child boost their executive skills

When parents realize their smart child is struggling with executive skills, they want to help but often don’t know how or where to begin.

You can help boost your child’s executive skills in several ways. A good place to start is by working with your child to develop some age-appropriate strategies to keep their room/homework/schedule organized. You can purchase a planner or help them find a user-friendly app to schedule study time, record homework and project due dates and add in their extracurricular activities. If you have a younger child, you can create a schedule for their daily responsibilities and activities and post it on the fridge or in another highly visible spot. Then they can refer to it throughout the day.

You can also work on age-appropriate goal setting with your child. Encourage them to write down their goals, brainstorm different steps they can take to achieve them and check in on their progress periodically. Consider incentivizing your child to work towards their goals by offering a small reward for completing certain steps along the way (a small Starbucks gift card, Fortnite V-Bucks, a new book on their wishlist, etc.). Then, once they reach their goal, they will revel in the feeling of accomplishment which will motivate them to set and achieve future goals—a gift that keeps on giving!

Sometimes the answer lies in strengthening cognitive skills

Sometimes, despite our best parental efforts, our smart child continues to struggle with weak executive skills. In these instances, it’s often because weak cognitive skills are at the root of the problem.

Cognitive skills are basic skills that underlie everything we do. They include attention, long-term and working memory, logic and reasoning, auditory processing, visual processing and processing speed. Cognitive skills are an integral part of learning, reading, memorizing, and performing and they work together to take incoming information and move it into a bank of knowledge that you use throughout your everyday life—and especially in school or at work.

Without strong cognitive skills in place, executive skills remain weak and underdeveloped.

Brain training to the rescue!

Fortunately, your smart child doesn’t have to be hindered by weak cognitive skills. Every healthy brain can grow, change and develop new neural pathways at any age or stage of life.

For over 35 years, LearningRx brain training centers have helped children and adults boost their weak cognitive skills through customized brain-training programs that target their unique cognitive profiles.

If you think your smart child could use a brain boost, we encourage you to take our free brain quiz and schedule a cognitive skills assessment. This will give us a clear picture of where your child is at and what is holding them back from performing at their best. Then we will go over our findings and share a roadmap with you for helping your child boost any weak skills and maximize their potential.