Executive Functioning is a set of mental skills that include working memory, self-monitoring, planning and prioritizing, task initiation, organization, and flexible thinking. These skills are used every day to learn. Deficits with executive functioning can make it hard to focus, follow directions, initiate tasks, among other things.
The Learning Coach Approach
Learning coaches create individualized executive functioning goals based on age and need. Together with the child they set goals, implement those goals, and measure the success.
Learning coaches create individualized executive functioning goals based on age and need. A sample of school work-related questions used to generate these goals include:
- Where do you study?
- How do you study?
- When do you do homework?
- What do you do if you don’t understand the work?
- Where do you put your work when you finish the class?
Goals are implemented using the following sample of activities:
- Provide/create an assignment book or weekly calendar.
- Create checklists and to-do lists that include social engagements. Less is more but don’t forget to include things outside of class that conflict with school.
- Color code notebooks, folders, and materials. Example: Math – red folder, notebook, highlight all math assignments in pink, English – yellow folder, notebook, yellow highlighter, etc.
- Dedicate one homework space that is quiet, clean, organized with minimal distractions.
- Keep a schedule. Example: Work 30 minutes and take a 10-minute break. These will be age-appropriate and individualized.
Explicitly model note-taking by utilizing note-taking templates.
- Show students exactly what to study and how to study it.
- Break big assignments into smaller assignments. Example: Test on Friday – study 20 minutes every night. Paper due in 10 days – each day work on a portion of it.
Success is measured in many ways. Benchmarks include:
- Creation of goals and records of goal completions.
- Gain confidence and self-awareness. If you have a question, ask.
- Independently email teachers or talk to them – communication.
- Know how to ask questions.
- Be timely, neat, prepared, and polite.