Executive functions are a key component of 21st Century Skills. They are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.” Think of them as like the traffic control tower that a person/child uses to deal with all of the stimuli that come at them during a day. Responses can be instinctive (or automatic), or they can be thoughtfully and intentionally regulated.
Highly recommended a video released by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University explains the critical nature of developing executive functions in early childhood and adolescence and provides an overview of several papers on the subject.
Executive function and self-regulation skills has life-long implications and lay the groundwork for mental health later in life.
Beginning players quickly learn that chess demands thoughtful, intentional self-regulation. Impulsive moves typically lose material and games. Planning, focus, and concentration are rewarded. Teachers are often amazed at how chess can instill these qualities in students who never seemed capable of self-control in a normal classroom setting. The are further amazed to see these behaviors carry over to their core classroom work.