For the first time ever, UK parents can take an online course created by UK experts where they get to learn about a mysterious area of the brain that houses something that could unleash their children’s inner CEO: ‘Executive Functions’. It’s the first online parenting course in the world to address this key, but often overlooked, area of the brain.
Have you ever heard of ‘executive functions’? You’re not alone, neither have most parents. And yet every child has them. In fact, within every single child lurks the makings of a future leader — an inner CEO.
The online course, ‘Connected Minds Parent’, has been created by Epsom-based Connections in Mind, a dedicated team of expert coaches committed to supporting executive function development in children, adolescents, education providers and adults.
The course is heavily influenced by research from leading neuroscientists, including Professor Adele Diamond (Professor of Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia) and Dr Peg Dawson (Clinical psychologist from the University of Virginia and author of Smart but Scattered).
Steeped in the latest neuroscience, the course, which costs £150 and is available via cimlearning.com, equips parents with the practical skills, advice and strategies to support and develop their children’s executive function skills (and they can also determine their own executive function profile here).
For example, it teaches parents how to reframe power struggles into peace, get connected through empathy, spot the roadblocks to communication and set healthy boundaries — all of which their children then learn by osmosis so that they, in turn, can themselves face and overcome a myriad of everyday challenges. Dr Peg Dawson says this about the Connected Minds Parent Course:
“The online course created and delivered by Connections in Mind is the next step in arming parents with the executive function knowledge and strategies to help their children grow into independent and skilled human beings. They take the essential neuroscience on executive functions and make it relevant and useful in a family setting.”
One person who has already undertaken the course is Chloe, a parent of 3 daughters, who concludes:
“We took part in this course with a focus on one of our daughters who, while being intelligent, bright and happy, struggled to do some of her very basic daily tasks like brushing her teeth without us constantly nagging. It really worried us as to how she would grow into a strong and independent woman and we knew there was more we could be doing, so finding out about executive functions was a lightbulb moment!”
“Through applying the knowledge, skills and strategies (and lots of scaffolding) suggested in the course, we now have a 10-year old who not only plans and gathers her belongings for school, makes her own packed lunch but plans and completes her homework on time and without prompting! The real bonus is that at age 10 she can now cook a full Sunday lunch by herself! It has given us more confidence in how to teach our children the brain-based skills they need to succeed in life. We are excited to see what the future holds for our daughter; the world really could be her oyster.”
Talking about the course, Connections in Mind co-founder, Victoria Bagnall, says:
“Until now, few parents have ever heard about executive functions and, if they have, there has been little or no support on how they can build and support the executive functions in their children’s brains. As parents, it is up to us to bring that potential forth and nurture it; initially, the benefits will be seen in the classroom and then, later in life, in the boardroom. Our new course is unlike any other general parent course. We initially help parents to build relationships with their child by ‘getting in the sand pit’ and looking at their own executive function skills to model their own behaviour around empathy, which in turn gets their children on board. Steeped in the latest neuroscientific advancements, the course is all about helping parents unleash their children’s full leadership potential or inner CEO.”
What are executive functions?
Executive functions, found in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, are essentially the Chief Executive Officer role of the brain and have the job of integrating key systems of the brain to execute high-level cognitive tasks, including planning, problem-solving, and decision-making. Executive functions help us focus on multiple streams of information at the same time, monitor errors, make decisions in light of available information, revise plans as necessary, and resist the urge to let frustration lead to hasty actions. These are all skills that are necessary for both the classroom and the boardroom.
Our children’s brains are super neuro-plastic right from the beginning of their lives through to adolescence when the prefrontal cortex of the brains is developing and maturing. But there is almost no support on how parents can acknowledge, build and support their children’s executive functions to give their child the essential skills they need to be a lead-in life. Until now.
Providing the support that children need to build these skills at home is one of parents’ most important responsibilities. Growth-promoting environments provide children with “scaffolding” that helps them practise necessary skills before they perform them alone. Adults can facilitate the development of a child’s executive function skills by establishing routines, modelling social behaviour, and creating and maintaining supportive, reliable relationships. It is also important for children to exercise their developing skills through activities that foster creative play and social connection, teach them how to cope with stress, involve vigorous exercise, and over time, provide opportunities for directing their own actions with decreasing adult supervision.
Anyone interested in the course can learn more here: https://cimlearning.com/courses/cmp-course/
Cover photo by Filip Urban on Unsplash