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Executive Functioning & Approaches to Learning

Building a solid foundation for our students extends beyond developing literacy and numeracy skills. We want students to be prepared for their futures, and central to this preparation is the development of Executive Functioning (EF) skills and Approaches to Learning Skills (ATL). 

The terms “Executive Functioning” and “Approaches to Learning” describe a set of cognitive skills that control and regulate certain abilities and behaviours. These are skills that students need in order to become self-regulated, intrinsically motivated learners. Research about the brain and learning has shown that EF and ATL skills are stronger predictors of future academic achievement and life success than academic achievement alone. Working in conjunction with our Learning Enrichment And Development (LEAD) professionals, LCC has designed a program to help students develop their organizational and learning skills and understand how their brains work. We introduce these skills at the start of high school, during the grade 7 orientation, and continue to focus on developing them throughout the Middle School experience. Our teachers have received specific training related to EF and ATL skills. 

What are the Executive Functioning Skills?

Initiating Action
Begins work with little or no prompting

Flexible Thinking
Occupies free time well and can analyze a situation from multiple perspectives

Sustaining Attention
Can adequately block distractions to optimize ability to comprehend

Consistently submits work on time and keeps personal belongings organized

Can organize time effectively and coordinate multi-step projects

Working Memory
Is able to retain information long enough to apply it to new learning challenges

Exhibits "appropriate" behaviour on a regular basis

Regulating Emotion
Can control emotional impulses and handle minor disappointments

What are the Approaches to Learning Skills?

Communication Skills

  • Exchange thoughts, messages and information effectively through interaction.
  • Read, write and use language to gather and communicate information.

Social  Skills

  • Collaboration: Work effectively with others.


  • Organization: Manage tasks and time effectively
  • Affective: Manage state of mind
  • Reflection: Consider what has been learned; choose and use ATL skills

Research Skills

  • Information Literacy: Find, interpret, judge and create information
  • Media Literacy: Interact with media to use and create ideas and information

Thinking Skills

  • Critical Thinking: Analyze and evaluate issues and idea
  • Creativity and Innovation: The skills of invention – develop things and ideas that never existed before
  • Transfer: Utilize skills and knowledge in multiple contexts