EXECUTIVE SKILLS: Plans, organizes, and manages behaviors and responsibilities
Why it's important:
Strong executive skills enable a child to stay focused, plan ahead, strategize, and recall information. Habits such as time management, organization, and the ability to start a task and sustain focus are not only pertinent to success in school, but success in future careers. While these skills improve as the brain develops, parents and schools can fast-track these skills through teaching and modeling.
How it can be developed at home:
(Adapted from Ann Dolin, M.Ed.)
Get Your Child Started — Children can have difficulty getting themselves started, often because they feel overwhelmed or can’t muster enough energy to get going. You can help by breaking down seemingly large assignments into smaller, more manageable chunks. Be sure your child understands the directions and how to do the work before beginning.
Create a Break Menu — By establishing a “menu” of breaks and rewards, your child will be better able to sustain attention while doing homework. On 3×5 cards, list small rewards for your child to choose from after completing an assignment. Good options include shooting hoops, getting a snack, building with Legos, or playing with a pet. Knowing a break is coming may be just the encouragement needed to push through challenging work and tailor the breaks to suit your child’s interests.
Plan Ahead — Sit down with your child on a weekly basis to discuss upcoming projects and assignments. Encourage your child to look ahead to plan out the week by determining what needs to be accomplished each day. Seeing tasks written out in the planner will keep students on track and organized.
Take a Photograph — Children tend to need lots of encouragement to keep their rooms, backpacks, desks, and lockers organized. Take a photo of the one area that needs to stay organized. Now, post the picture in a highly visible place so your child can refer to it. This way, there will be a frame of reference for what the room or other area should look like when your child needs to clean it up. Many kids are unable to visualize what “clean” means. With this method, there’s no question about it!
Article: Looking at Executive Functions in Middle Schoolers
Article: Why Executive Function is important to learning
E-Book: Introduction to Executive Function E-Book-- FREE
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Article: Three Brain-Based Teaching Strategies to Build Executive Function in Students
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Article: Age of Distraction: Why it's crucial for students to learn to focus
Resource: Executive Function & Growth Mindset Information Back to School Night (English)
Resource: Executive Function & Growth Mindset Information Back to School Night (Spanish)
Book: Executive Skills In Children and Adolescents by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare (For Parents and Teachers)
Book: Coaching Students with Executive Skills Deficits by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare (For Teachers)
Book: Late, Lost, & Unprepared: A parent's guide to helping children with executive function by Joyce Cooper-Kahn and Laurie Dietzel