Executive Functions (EF): For the Future of 21st Century Thai Kids
In the present days, there are still parents who evaluate their children based on their academic performance. However in fact, there are many children who did not grow up with mental intelligence because they can’t make the best out of what they have learnt.
Therefore, the academic proficiency is not the answer of children’s survival. Successful children must have good “Executive Functions” or EF. ThaiHealth’s reading culture promotion programme has collaborated with Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand (PUBAT), and RLG Group to organise a seminar titled “The answer of Thailand’s educational revolution”.
Mrs Sudjai Promkerd, Director of ThaiHealth’s Reading Culture Promotion Programme, explained that the programme was trying to drive forward the development of young children, and realised that the EF is evolving around reading. Reading is the most important tool in order to enhance skills for children. The campaign promotes reading and encourages reading habit in the Thai society because the materials in books can help improving children’s EF skills.
A recent case study has discovered that reading books to small children can create the circle of learning for them, book is the easiest tool and you only have to invest on books once and what they learn from the books will stay with them for the rest of their lives. For example, teacher from a child development centre in Ranong province found that the small children are fighting with others, but when teacher start reading books about how violence is bad for them. After two weeks, children’s behaviour changed for the better.
So, in order to increase the development of children and teens. There must be campaign that can raise the awareness of EF and expand the knowledge of EF to help develop children especially at their early age through books and reading.
Dr Nuanchan Juthaphakdeekul, Neurology Expert from Neuroscience Research Institute of Molecular Biosciences of Mahidol University, has explained that Executive Functions or EF include with 9 skills which are: 1) Working memory, 2) Inhibitory Control, 3) Cognitive Flexibility, 4) Focus/Attention, 5) Emotion Control, 6) Planning and Organising, 7) Self-Monitoring, 8) Initiating, and 9) Goal-Driven Persistence,
All these skills will help in decision-making for any behaviour that will help them achieve their goal, which can help them plan, manage, focus and insist on finishing the task they were given. It will also help both emotional and idea management in order to achieve the task the right way. These skills will carry and adjust your behaviour and if they’ve got all these skills, they are likely to find success in life.
She said that child’s brain at the age of 3-6 years old will have the best EF development and if the child lacks EF, there are high chances that they will grow up to be addicted to games, gambling or drugs because when they have urge they will do things without thinking about consequences. They will not know how to organise themselves and it will affect their study because the higher the education it will requires even more EF skills.
Dr Nuanchan’s research urged the promotion of EF skills to small children with suitable environment for reading at home will have better result for child’s brain development by reading books to them or create reading corner where children can read their own book by themselves. Children will have better skills in reading, writing and higher intelligence. Paediatrician College of America suggested parents to read books to children since they were born by choosing what appropriate to their age. They do not have to wait for them to go to school first and then read to them. By reading them books early, children will be able develop their skills and will be more expressive towards how they feel and think.
Furthermore, parents can teach their children a second language as well and it will increase EF ability in children. Playing music instruments also helps in brain training because it requires focus and sensory skills. However, EF training will have to be chosen to suit each type of children because each person has different personality. Activities for children are to be given for the betterment of concentration, and every next step, the next level of difficulty. All this will help EF to come true.
Every children born with hidden potential and they can their potential if family environment, educational institution, society and everyone work together to create atmosphere that good for children to grow up in. There are chances that they can not only take themselves to success but their country as well.