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Is Your Student Struggling To Complete Tasks? You May Need Coaching in Executive Functioning

Executive functioning (EF) plays a major role in the day-to-day choices we make. Some major components of EF include:

· Time management

· Planning and Organizing

· Remembering details

· Multitasking

· Focusing

So, what happens when you experience challenges with executive functioning? Your work becomes difficult. What seems like a small task becomes an impossible job. You grow frustrated; you begin to shut down, and you might feel like giving up before you even begin.

For many students, especially during a pandemic that has forced schools to implement sudden and massive changes to how classes will be taught, this is an all-too-common reality. Students are faced with considerable amounts of work and no idea how to even begin their first homework task (much less a class project or presentation). In order to help your child, we here at O.W.L. Educational Services have compiled five ways to help students effectively implement EF in their lives.

1. Establish a Routine

This may seem like something minor, but it plays a huge impact.

Ø Having a routine can prevent you from suffering from a wide range of issues involving poor sleep, dietary and health issues, as well as a host of other concerns. (To find out more about routines and health, read this fun article from Midwestern Medicine.)

Ø Traditional styles classrooms usually have a routine in place each class period. There are few surprises except for the occasional pop quizzes.

Ø Set aside daily homework/study time for each class, even if the class doesn’t give homework each day.

Ø You should also be sure to include some time to relax/decompress, but do not feel you need to plan out every single moment of your day.

2. Create a Reminder System That Works for You

One of our favorite excuses for why a student does not write things down is that the student “remembers everything.” Unless your student has hyperthymesia, which is incredibly rare, remembering everything is not possible.

Ø Writing things down has a proven, neuroscientific benefit to one’s cognitive and daily life (as explained in this Forbes article).

Ø Some students choose to use Google Calendars (or a similar program) to set reminders throughout the week about upcoming assignments.

Ø If you prefer a paper calendar, be sure to set aside about 10-15 minutes each day to verify due dates and assignment details.

3. Unpack Your Work by Setting Up Milestones Along the Way

Large assignments tend to overwhelm students with executive functioning challenges or other types of learning disabilities. Let’s say you need to write a 10-page research paper and come up with a 10-minute lecture on the topic. Where do you begin?

Ø Set smaller, manageable goals for yourself with the idea of finishing earlier. This allows for time to handle any hiccups that may occur.

Ø Consider all the pieces that go into making the final project. Choose a topic first, then collect your research. Save all the research in one place and label why you saved it.

Ø Map out your entire essay in an outline so you’re able to keep focused as you draft your essay.

Ø After you’ve finished your outline, write your essay, and revise as needed.

Ø The lecture should be the last thing you complete as by this point your brain will be full of information, so it becomes easier to manage

Ø If in doubt, ask your instructor for advice about how to break down a large assignment into more manageable pieces (or ask your executive functioning coach).

4. Study with Your Strengths In Mind

We often hear from students that they don’t know how to study. They might just read notes, and that is it. When it comes to training for a sport, you wouldn’t just sit there and watch people run, right? The same is true with “brain exercise.” You need to take what we call “ownership of learning,” which involves being an active participant in what you’re studying.

Ø Re-write class notes in your own words.

Ø Most concepts you learn about in school have virtual review options such as Quizlet and Kahoot. You can also download free worksheets for many concepts that include answer keys.

Ø Search for the concepts you struggle with most. There are countless websites that will walk you through concepts step by step in a multitude of different ways.

Ø Watch YouTube videos on the subject and take notes as you watch.

5. Find an Accountability Partner

Finding the right accountability partner is a must for goal-setting and achievement (as further explored in this article from Inc.com). There are many reasons why an accountability partner would be vital to one’s success:

Ø This person can be someone who steps in to remind you of the work you have to do. This should be someone who is comfortable working with multiple subjects as EF difficulties can occur for a number of different reasons.

Ø This person can also help you to set up goals for each of your classes so you’re able to meet all of your requirements in a timely fashion.

Ø If you are struggling with finding a system that works, this person can work with you to help set up a plan with your success in mind.

If you think you may need an Executive Function Coach, please feel free to contact us at info@owleducationalservices.com or call/text 804-818-6628.

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