Flexibility is the Thinking Skill that focuses on a child’s ability to adapt to new situations, improvise, and shift strategies to meet different types of challenges.
For example, when taking a test that contains both multiple choice and essay questions, a child with good Flexibility skills will be able to switch easily between the two formats, while a child who struggles with Flexibility skills may get stuck and become frustrated each time the format changes.
Video games can help improve Flexibility by allowing kids to practice their Flexibility skills while in the midst of a fun and immersive game experience. Many games require players to shift their thinking and gameplay strategies with each new level, in order to advance and “beat the game.” Video games provide a great opportunity for children to learn from their mistakes, shift their approach, handle frustration, and think creatively about new ways to solve problems.
Watch the video to learn more about how video games can help your child improve their Flexibility thinking skill.
Flexibility is not only an important skill for academic success, it is vital to a healthy social and family life. Because it involves the capacity to improvise, shift approaches, and adapt to new situations, Flexibility is often utilized in social and peer interactions. When a child needs to deal with disappointments, shifting expectations, and unexpected changes in events and routines, they are utilizing Flexibility skills.
There is convincing research demonstrating how early training in thinking, executive, and learning skills improves long-term academic performance. The choice to teach thinking skills rather than academics to kindergarteners results in improved performance in mathematics and reading for middle school students and beyond. In other words, for children to become accomplished readers and mathematicians, more time should be spent teaching Thinking Skills to kindergarteners and first graders.
Flexibility is an important skill when learning new information. This is particularly true when learning complex material in which making mistakes and trial-and-error learning may be the best way to achieve mastery. Flexibility also plays a very important role in long-term projects as well as in any assignments, such as writing tasks, for which revising and editing play an important role.
Playing video games, searching the Internet, trying out the newest app, or Facebooking a friend demands a variety of Thinking Skills. Proficiency with any of these digital tools requires the ability to apply skills such as Planning, Organization, Working Memory, or Self-Awareness. For children, the attraction of video games and technologies makes them an ideal teaching tool for practicing game-based skills and learning to apply them to school and daily activities.
How do video games and interactive digital media practice and improve Flexibility?
Flexibility is a core Thinking Skill necessary for learning how to master video games and other interactive digital media. Part of what makes video games interesting are shifting challenges and increasing complexity as one advances to higher and higher levels. This requires flexibility, creativity, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
Similarly, individuals must use Flexibility when mastering an app or a program on the computer. When people can’t figure something out on their new cell phones, they usually “play” with them, flexibly trying out new approaches to see what works. While you can read the directions if you want, most often the best way to learn how to master interactive digital media is to try a variety of approaches and see what suits your particular need.
Flexibility is a commonly-identified executive function in many theories. It is typically defined as the capacity to adapt to new situations and deal with changes in routine. It is a core component of Dawson and Guare’s theory of executive functions, after which we have patterned our thinking skills at LearningWorks for Kids.
As an executive function, flexibility often refers to a cognitive skill that allows one to learn from one’s mistakes and to change one’s approach to a task. It helps individuals to deal with novel situations and to adjust to situations that do not go they way they expect. For children, we often observe flexibility in the capacity to deal with disappointment or changes in plans. Flexibility skills support problem solving and are often combined with planning and time-management skills in accomplishing goals.
Assessing the executive function of flexibility in children involves determining how well they adapt to changing situations, transitions, and impediments in reaching their goals. The LearningWorks for Kids Thinking Skills Assessment is based on the Executive Skills Questionnaire (ESQ) which measures flexibility primarily by how one adjusts to changes in daily routines, the ability to adapt when one does not get what one wants, and how effectively one changes one’s behavior in response to environmental conditions.
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