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Have you ever had a bright student who often forgot to turn in her homework, even though her mom said she completed it? Or one who struggled with task initiation? Or perhaps a student who had difficulty with focusing or impulse control?

These problems all relate to executive-function skills and there are ways to strengthen them. Some students, such as those with disabilities or exceptionalities like giftedness, may struggle more. However, any student can have a deficit in this area – regardless of whether or not they’re neurodiverse. (Especially as they progress to middle school and beyond.)

Have you ever had a bright student who often forgot to turn in her homework, even though she always completed it? Or one who struggled with task initiation? Or perhaps a student who had difficulty with impulse control? Executive-function deficits can plague any student. Janko Ferlic Photograpy.

Thankfully, educators and parents are becoming more aware of executive-function deficits. Last month, executive function coach Seth Perler held a three-day online summit, in which he shared pre-recorded interviews with 23 subject matter experts. More than 9,500 people participated, and the Facebook group for attendees is still very active, with parents getting support from each other and sharing ways they’re implementing what they learned. It’s encouraging to watch!

How can educators teach and encourage these skills, too?

  • Follow executive-function experts. I have an Experts to Follow Pinterest board; several of the folks listed are very skilled in building various types of executive-function skills. These are all folks I’ve personally listened to; they offer excellent tips and insights. I’ve also been touched, but not surprised by, the reasons many of them got into these lines of work.

    (Some of the stories are heartbreaking, like executive function coach Yulia Rafailova, who grew up with undiagnosed anxiety and ADHD, and can relate on a deep level to the kids she helps; and Dr. Stuart Shanker, whose childhood friend ended up in prison by age 17.)
  • Take advantage of Teachers pay Teachers resources. I’ve saved a lot of them to an executive function tools Pinterest board, and I’m adding more all the time.

    “It’s so important to teach how to organize a notebook, where to look on the board for homework each day, and what strategies to use if a student is stuck on a problem. These skills can be taught,” says Kristina Scully, full-time curriculum designer creator of Pathway 2 Success.
  • Sign up to receive my emails. I address a different topic in each week’s message that I send to my subscribers; executive function is one of them. Subscribe here and I’ll send you two freebies as well – one for you and one for your students. (I’ll be respectful of your time and won’t share your email address with anyone. Promise!)

Have a great school year and thanks for everything you do!

If you like this story, please share it, so other teachers find these resources, too. 🙂

pattias