• Becky Korinek

Executive Functioning Skills and Reading Comprehension

We've talked a bit about Executive Functioning Skills, also known as the air traffic controller for the brain. EFS help us to make sure we do what we need to do when we need to do it. Obviously, Executive Functioning Skills are important - but how do they impact reading? It turns out that Executive Functioning Skills have a huge effect on the reading process!


One part of the reading process is decoding. Are Executive Functioning Skills necessary for decoding? Yep! When decoding, readers use working memory to recall the variety of sounds letters can make. For example, "ch" can make a variety of sounds: choice, chemist, and chef. The reader will use working memory to recall the sound(s) letters make. This is how accurate decoding happens.

Self-monitoring is another executive functioning skill that is essential to decoding. If the sound doesn't make sense in the word, the reader will use self-monitoring to recognize this, and try another strategy.

Another one of the Executive Functioning Skills that impacts reading is attention. It is attention that, for example, helps the reader to notice the difference between an upper case P and an upper case R.


Executive Functioning Skills are wrapped up in the comprehension process, too. When a reader is trying to comprehend, or understand, a passage, he or she must use metacognition to monitor whether he or she does understand. If the reader is confused, it is metacognition that helps him to realize this.

Perseverance is also instrumental in comprehension. It is easy to give up when something doesn't make sense. It takes tenacity and perseverance to keep going until we reach the point of understanding.

Another Executive Functioning Skill, flexible thinking, is essential to comprehension. Often a story will take a turn in plot, forcing the reader to adjust his thinking or amend his expectations. This flexible thinking helps the reader to stick with the story, monitoring comprehension along the way.

Reading Includes Many Components

There's no one 'key' to reading. Instead, the reading process includes many components that are necessary. Decoding, comprehension, and Executive Functioning Skills are the ingredients that come together to make the process of reading both satisfying and delicious!

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