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Internally Sensing the Passage of Time

We recently came across the fact that the most commonly used noun in American English is 'time.' Really? We would have guessed 'phone' or 'internet' and secretly wished it was 'chocolate'. Nope. 'Time'. This is the list of the other top used nouns: time, person, year, way, day, thing, man, world, life, hand, part, child, eye, woman, place, work, week.

We find this fascinating!

We need to perceive or sense time and while we have 5 senses how do we actually sense time? We can hear music. We can taste chocolate(Yum!). We can see a clock and feel a soft blanket. But how do we see and sense time? Our perception of time is how we distinguish between our external representation of time and our internal grasp of it.

The keys to helping students internally develop a sense of time and to MIME the future is to teach them the distinct experience of duration (to see how much time has elapsed between events and to see when the next event will take place), temporal order (the likely sequence in which events will occur) and temporal direction or tense to develop the subjective sense of moving through time (past, present and future) as opposed to being 'time blind' and only thinking of time in terms of 'now' and 'not now'.

When coaching students to develop executive function skills we help them to go from intention to action by teaching them to perform a mental dress rehearsal or to do a "dry run" of the task in their mind before they begin to carry out the plan. In other words, we teach them to be a 'Mind MIME' and act out in their mind the intended action.

We ask students imagine themselves across space and time. In fact, 90% of the time task planning happens in a different space from where you execute the plan! This imagery is a mental anchor that allows the student to better resist distraction and maintain a pace to a to reach a goal. When forethought guides an individual's actions, they can carry out tasks more successfully.

As an illustration, when children with weak executive function skills hear the instruction "get ready for school!", they hear the word, but do not pre-imagine the task or the steps to be ready. Even if they respond, "Okay!" they do not initiate any action to move toward the goal. When these children finally enter their room, because they have not pre-imagined the task, they are only starting to ask themselves, "Okay, what am I doing?" Without the vision of the outcome in mind, they are open to distraction. When these children go into their bedroom and see books, Legos, and a laptop, they easily disengage from the goal of getting ready. This Mind MIME imagery is a mental anchor that allows the child to better resist distraction and maintain a pace to a to reach a goal. Forethought is rooted in seeing oneself across space and time!

Back to the list of top used nouns in the English language!...Look at the number of nouns that relate to this executive function imagery of being a mind MIME: time (what time will it be?), person (what will I look like/what will others look like?), year (how far into the future can I see?), way (in what way am I moving to achieve this goal?), day (what do I need to do this day?), thing (what objects do I see I need to complete the task?), hand (gestures give life to my mental scratch pad so I can pre-experience the task and do a dry run before it happens), part (what are the parts of the task), eye (what do I see the future to look like), place (where will I be? What spaces am I moving across?), work (what work/steps do I need to take to do this task), week (when in the day/week will this task be complete?) and....every man, woman and child in the world carries these skills out in their everyday life!

Time is the most used noun in the English language!


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