Executive Function Strategies
- Help your child build positive routines and habits. Reinforce positive behaviors (even if it is with a “good job!”)- ie showering, brushing teeth, flushing the toilet, until it becomes positive habit.
- Create and use pre-timed audio music playlist to assist with time management in such routines as morning hygiene. The goal is to have teeth brushed and hair combed before the playlist is done. Let your child pick the music and assist with creating the playlist.
- Sit down with your child and detail a personalized organization system, realizing their manner of organizing may be different from your own. Start with one specific item such as the bedroom closet or dresser drawers or classroom notebook. Have your child determine where they want things to go. Then it is on them to be sure the organization system is working for them.
- Reduce the amount of “stuff” your child is required to organize or keep. Donate unused toys to Goodwill or place in a closet outside their bedroom. Keep reducing until your child reaches a level they can keep organized. Sometimes less really is more.
- Teach your child to assess each new environment for auditory and visual distractions. These distractions compete for attention. Eliminate the distractions if possible or situate child as far from distraction as possible. Learning to recognize these distractions is the first step in dealing with them.
- Encourage your child to set a specific time and place for study each day. Consistency is the key. Even if they have no assigned work on a given day, ask them to participate in reading, computer work, or like activities.
- As your child seems sensitive to auditory distractions, encourage them to use some type of neutral “white noise” in the background as they study. Classical music has long been a choice for “white noise”; however, a recent study out of Britain suggests popular music works just as well.
- Set a daily study period which can be constant through the week. Even if your child has no homework, they read or work creatively during the time period each day.
- Consider providing your child with a kitchen timer or digital timer to assist them in pacing while completing homework or similar tasks. The timer becomes a concrete representation of time.
- Your child seems to prefer a whole to part learning sequence. Once they have a sense of the big picture, they can get down to business. Encourage them to use the SQ3R general study strategy- survey, question, read, recite, and review.
- As an experiential learner, your child benefits from seeing alien skills, such as organization and time management, modeled by family members. There is truth to the old adage, “More is caught than taught”. Be prepared to model these concepts as part of instruction.
- Have your child pick out a calendar of interest to them and hang it in a place of prominence in their room. Supervise them in placing important dates such as birthdays, school holidays, last day of school, etc. on the calendar. This is one strategy which encourages time management on a broad scale.
- Encourage your child to begin using a daily or weekly planner, either paper pencil, an app or on their computer. It can start basic and grow. Incorporate time goals in the list, so on this day by this time, I will have completed this task. Evaluate progress at the end of each day. Roll unfinished tasks to the next day. Celebrate days when all of the tasks are accomplished with something special!
- Work with your child in creating visual checklists for some of the more routine, daily functions such as packing for the next school day or completing their family chore.
- Each Sunday evening assist your child in creating and posting a weekly schedule. Include soccer practice and daily homework periods as well as fun events such as Tuesday night pizza and a Saturday afternoon movie or day hike. Some computer programs are ideal for this task.
- Have your child purchase a watch with their allowance or birthday money. They are not allowed to leave their house for “Timmy’s house” until they put on the watch and set the timer. When they lose this one, they then buy another and another if necessary. Time is tough to manage if you do not have the proper tools.
For more information or targeted strategies regarding your child’s specific strengths or challenges contact our Family Support Coordinator, Dr. Liz Simpson (Liz@soarnc.org).