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In order for students to learn successfully during distance and hybrid learning, they’ll need strong executive function skills. Thankfully, executive function skills can be supported and taught in both an in-person and remote teaching environment, and giving these skills the attention they need can lead to more student learning. 

But what are executive function skills, and how can teachers support them during distance learning? Keep reading to learn more about the importance of supporting executive function skills during distance and hybrid learning, and download our infographic full of helpful strategies you can use with your students.

Supporting executive function skills during distance learning and hybrid learning

Why is supporting executive function skills important for remote learning?

Executive function is the set of cognitive processes that give students the ability to self-manage and self-regulate. These skills give students the ability to plan, time manage, focus their attention, regulate their emotions, and more. All of these skills are central to a student’s ability to succeed in a remote learning environment, making executive function skills incredibly important to teach and support during distance learning.

Additionally, the  stress and potential trauma students may be experiencing due to the pandemic can take a toll on their executive function skills. Brittany from Success in Special Education explains: “Stress and trauma can affect students of all ages in a variety of ways. If a student feels anxious, depressed or overwhelmed, this can impact their ability to focus on content, participate in the classroom, or engage with others.” For example, students may struggle with calling out in class, keeping their attention on video lessons, managing their time outside the structure of a regular school day, or starting and finishing assignments. These challenges make supporting executive function skills during distance and hybrid learning all the more important.

Tips for supporting executive function skills during distance and hybrid learning

Now that we know why it’s important to support executive function skills during distance and hybrid learning, what are some strategies you can use to support them with your students? Download the infographic below for a list of helpful tips you can use in a remote or hybrid learning environment to boost your students’ executive function skills.

Digital Resources for Teaching and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Your Students

SELF-CONTROL Lesson to Build the Executive Functioning Skill of Impulse Control by WholeHearted School Counseling
Grades 2-5

The Teacher-Author indicated this resource includes assets from Google Workspace (e.g. docs, slides, etc.).

Executive Functioning Lessons – Distance Learning and Google Classroom by Pathway 2 Success
Grades 5-8

The Teacher-Author indicated this resource includes assets from Google Workspace (e.g. docs, slides, etc.).

Flexible Thinking Dealing with Change Middle and High School Distance Learning by Success in Special Ed
Grades 7-10

You can convert this PDF into an interactive online assignment for students. Learn more.

“Executive Functioning” Workbook for Teens in Middle and High School by School Counseling Essentials
Grades 6-12

You can convert this PDF into an interactive online assignment for students. Learn more.

For more resources to support students’ executive function skills during distance or hybrid learning, check out digital resources available on TpT.


When faced with stress and trauma, students may begin to struggle with their executive function skills, which makes the pandemic a critical time to focus on them. The good news is, these are just a few of the many strategies you can use to support your students’ executive function skills during distance and hybrid learning. And by giving attention to your students’ executive functions, you’ll ultimately be supporting skills that are foundational to successful learning in any environment.

This post originally appeared in TpT’s Back to School 2020 Guide: For Teachers Creating Tomorrow.