At Home EF Activities

#5 Executive Function @ Home Activity

All Ages

Musical/Artistic Expression

Areas developed: Attention, impulse control, working memory, cognitive flexibility

Today let's sing and dance!

Learning how to play a musical instrument is an excellent way to improve cognitive skills and strengthen executive function.  The same is true with learning how to sing a new song or engaging in a dance routine.  Such tasks have multiple, complicated processes that must be negotiated simultaneously.  These processes include rhythm, cadence, pitch, and tone.  Any musical performance or dance routine will share these components, thereby strengthening attention, working memory, impulse control and cognitive flexibility (a person's ability to smoothly "shift" from one task to another).

If you and/or your child currently plays an instrument, select a new song to learn.  Or perhaps you used to play the piano but haven't done so in a while - now is a great time to get back to it.  Don't have a musical instrument?  Learn to sing a new song or learn a dance routine.  If you do an online search you can find lots of fun videos with both dance and singing instructions.  While you are having fun learning and practicing your new song or dance routine, you are developing several cognitive skills that strengthen executive function.

Have Talent Show Night!

Don't keep your newfound talent to yourself!  Plan a family talent show!  Today everyone finds a song or dance routine to learn.  You have the entire week to practice.  On Saturday night, your living room becomes the stage and everyone has an opportunity to perform.  You can decide if you want only individual performances, group routines, or both!

Successful performance requires the person to closely follow the musical score or dance routine, so impulse control is key.  In other words, a participant learns to inhibit their tendency to "do whatever they want" without thinking of consequences.  Given the popularity of so many young entertainers for whom singing, dancing, or playing an instrument has brought them fame, such activities are inherently appealing to children and teens, thus making them an excellent choice for cognitive skill development.

More Ideas to Make the Talent Show Night Special:

  • Keep in mind, your talent show night is an excellent time to teach social skills.  Set ground rules and ask questions such as, "What should we (the audience) be doing when someone is performing.  How do we express that we liked their performance?  If someone makes a mistake, how should we respond and/or encourage them?"  Setting the tone for the evening's event will help ensure that everyone will have a positive experience.
  • Have a little extra time before the event?  Let your kids be creative and make advertisement posters to hang up around the house announcing the event.  They can even make programs listing the performances.  
  • Invite another family to join talent night with you virtually!  Use a video conference program like FaceTime or Zoom and connect with another family to broadcast your talents to each other's homes!

Now get out there and express yourself!