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Executive Skills Support

Planning, Organizing, Academic Strategy.


What parents need to know about Executive Skills Training

Executive skills (AKA executive function) are cognitive processes that all of us need in order to set and achieve goals. These skills help us to plan long-term objectives, to organize, to prioritize, to make decisions, to initiate tasks, to maintain focus, to tolerate stress, and to regulate emotions.

Students with underdeveloped executive skills struggle to connect actions taken today with goals for tomorrow. They have trouble starting and focusing on tasks. They are disorganized and forgetful. Their academic performance suffers. They cram last minute, they make careless mistakes, they panic, and they act out. But it needn’t be this way.

Students can strengthen their executive skills to improve their academic performance and social relationships. 

We support your child with these foundational steps for developing executive skills:

  • Interpreting instructions. Students lacking strong executive skills often misinterpret instructions. If they misinterpret instructions, students will fail to meet the criteria for their assignments. This results in poor grades. We clarify instructions while also teaching students how to clarify for themselves. Your child will learn what to look for in instructions and how to ask the teacher for clarification.

  • Breaking down assignments into manageable steps. Assignments can overwhelm or intimidate students. We help manage assignments in three steps: 

    • identifying the components of assignments.

    • estimating the time needed to complete each component.

    • establishing timelines for completion.

  • Prioritizing assignments. Once assignment expectations and due dates are known and broken into steps, we help students identify which assignments to complete first. Students learn to prioritize assignments based on due date, on time required, and on value of marks.

  • Encouraging agenda usage. Student agendas are valuable tools for key executive skills. These skills include breaking apart tasks into manageable chunks, time management, prioritizing, and planning. But students often resist agenda usage because they feel agendas are irrelevant, view agendas as extra work, or forget to use agendas. We help students adopt agendas by making their impact more clear, and we explore various physical and digital formats until we identify one that suits each student’s individual learning style.

  • Fighting procrastination to promote task initiation. Procrastination is a symptom of avoidance. Students avoid tasks when they feel overwhelmed by the perceived difficulty or quantity of tasks at hand. All of the previous steps in this list help students prepare for tasks. When students are prepared, they feel less overwhelmed. This empowers them to initiate tasks instead of avoiding them.

  • Identifying, planning, and pursuing goals. We help students identify their goals, devise specific plans to achieve those goals, and stick with theirs plans until completion. By encouraging your child to persist at achieving goals in activities that interest them, we can help them apply that persistence to activities of less interest.

Organizing binders and bags. Students struggling with executive skills usually lack habits around organization and tidiness. They often lose track of important items, which is stressful. We reduce this stress by making organization fun for students. This helps them locate important items, which improves efficiency. When students know where to find what they need, they spend less time and energy searching. So they can start working sooner.

How often do we meet for Executive Skills Training?

We recommend that we meet with your child for at least one hour per week for Executive Skills Training. Please allow for longer weekly sessions if you want to include any of our other services.

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What Students need to know about Executive Skills Training

Do you have a bag stuffed full of worksheets? Do your assignments, tests, and quizzes pop up out of nowhere?! Do you like learning but dread tests? Me too. But I have tricks for dealing with schoolwork—let me show you.

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