What is executive functioning?
In short, they are the skills you need to be successful in life. Things like staying organized, planning tasks, prioritizing and deciding the order to complete tasks, dealing with getting multiple tasks assigned at one time, staying focused, completing non-preferred tasks, goal setting, list making and many more too numerous to mention.
You may be wondering how a deficit in these skills might impact a child in elementary or middle school. During literacy centers or distance learning students are given multiple assignments at one time. Some children just begin working and always seem to finish on time. Others become so overwhelmed about where to start that they simply cannot begin. They do things like talk to their friends or go to the bathroom 10 times a day. At home during distance learning they may ask for snacks or find any reason they can to avoid their work. Or they pick a task to start with and encounter some difficulty and shut down because it didn’t come easily to them. These students may seek teacher assistance very frequently because they are looking for some immediate feedback on their accuracy. They are often rushing to finish their work and make errors that appear careless but that child is literally in a panic to finish their assignments. They may often miss out on earned activities in class because they still have to finish their work. Their doubt of themselves becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If they believe they can’t complete their work it will be incredibly hard to do so.
This is a fairly new concept and these behaviors look much like the inability to attend. Executive functioning training can also be very helpful to students with attention deficits. But every child with executive functioning deficits shouldn’t automatically be placed in that category. I will be the first person to tell you that I am not a medical doctor, therefore it is not my place to attempt to diagnose or treat children. I’m just saying that this is another thing that may help your child develop the skills they need in order to be successful in school.
What would executive function training look like?
I would speak with the parents, teacher and the child to get all perspectives on the difficulties. Then I would develop a plan to help a child sort through multiple tasks and find those that are easier for them and tackle them first. We would also develop an informal plan for how we attempt tasks, how and when to seek assistance and the best way to help the child begin to monitor their own task completion. Another area of focus could be organizing your ideas prior to writing which will make the writing process much easier overall.
Who could benefit from executive function training?
It really depends on the student but most children would be able to use strategies provided in these sessions by grade 3. Third grade is often the year that independent work gets real in our schools. You often see a surge in referrals to be evaluated around this time. Executive functioning training could be a route to explore while those evaluations are getting underway.
Executive Functioning Pricing Options
First consultation: no charge
Sessions are $50 an hour and would be best once weekly or bi-weekly.