Episode 10: Executive Functioning, Resilience, and Back to Basics Parenting with Mark Bertin, MD

Episode Summary 
Executive functioning (EF) refers to the foundational skill set required to manage daily life including behavior, attention, and self-management. For children, executive functioning is essential for academic performance in school as well as overall resilience and well-being. In this episode Mark Bertin, MD, shares the research underlying executive functioning in children as well as his expertise in understanding its development. He offers tools for parents and educators to support children’s EF skills as well as interventions for kids who present with deficits. Finally, Dr. Bertin shares insights about the practicality of mindfulness, particularly as school resumes during the current pandemic.

Top READ Bookmarks
Each episode, host Danielle Scorrano identifies key takeaways or “READ bookmarks.” 

1. Executive functioning is a set of skills that supports daily life, behavior and attention. Research shows the connection between strong executive functioning skills and academic performance, problem solving, well-being and resilience.

"We need to start understanding what self-management skills do over time. Executive functioning is a foundational skill set to navigating learning and challenging situations… [and] it is an important concept of resilience. Executive functioning involves a lot of skills we bring for persisting." 

2. Adults can support executive functioning in all children by fostering strong relationships, maintaining consistency of expectations at home, promoting open play time, and limiting screen time.

"There’s a lot of pressure in life to do more and fix more… It feels like a particularly pressured time in parenting and teaching. Sometimes I think of this new science of brain development as modern science of back-to-the-basics parenting."

3. For students with EF deficits like ADHD, school supports include:

  • Classroom interventions
  • Direct instruction of time management and organization skills
  • Testing modifications
  • Behavioral interventions

"All kids often benefit from some level of direct instruction at the beginning of any new task. Kids with ADHD benefit from direct instruction in particular… any time we can teach them [skills] to fluency, it is beneficial to take the demands off of executive functioning." 

4. Mindfulness, a foundational practice for executive functioning and resilience, helps people build traits to respond to challenging events. It is simply the practice of maintaining unbiased awareness and living moment to moment with clarity.

Resources:

Dr. Bertin's Website Developmental Doctor

The Windward Institute Online Course Catalog

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READ Podcast is produced by The Windward School and The Windward Institute. READ is hosted by Danielle Scorrano.

About READ: READ, the Research Education ADvocacy Podcast connects you with prominent researchers, thought leaders, and educators who share their work, insights, and expertise about current research and best practices in fields of education and child development.
Note: All information and insights shared demonstrate the expertise and views of our guests.