Building Executive Function

   - Skills in Kids

   - With Dr. Peg Dawson

In this insightful episode, Dr. Peg Dawson shares her extensive background and her passion for helping kids develop executive functioning skills, which are critical for academic success and life in general. Here are the key points discussed:

Personal Background: Peg Dawson grew up in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, influenced by her father's career in oceanography and his travels. She spent time abroad during her high school and college years, which contributed to her love for education and psychology.

Professional Journey: Dawson transitioned from working as a school psychologist in public schools to focusing on children with learning and attention disorders in a clinic setting. This shift led her to specialize in executive skills, which she believes are more predictive of school success than IQ.

Definition of Executive Skills: These are brain-based skills managed by the frontal lobes, essential for executing tasks, such as task initiation, sustained attention, goal-directed persistence, planning, organization, and metacognition.

Chess and Executive Skills: Although not a chess player herself, Dr. Dawson advocates for chess as a means to develop executive skills. Engaging in fun activities like chess can help children improve these skills more effectively than traditional worksheets.

Identifying and Leveraging Strengths: Dr. Dawson emphasizes looking at both strengths and weaknesses when assessing executive skills. Celebrating strengths can empower children to tackle challenges, such as a child with dyslexia harnessing goal-directed persistence to overcome reading difficulties.

Teaching Strategies: She mentions strategies for teaching skills like response inhibition, where chess can play a role by teaching children to wait their turn and plan collaboratively, thereby enhancing patience and cooperation.

Mindsets and Executive Skills: Dr. Dawson touches upon how certain mindsets like planning, focus, and goal-directed persistence are intrinsically linked to executive skills. She also suggests that persistence in pursuing goals is more crucial than the act of setting them.

Application in Real Life: The ultimate goal is to help students make the connection between their current actions and their long-term goals, which her coaching program emphasizes.

Throughout the conversation, Dr. Dawson's passion for her work shines through, highlighting the importance of executive skills in both educational settings and broader life experiences.

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05 November 2023

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