Does your child show any signs of losing papers, not getting homework or projects done in a timely manner? This could be a sign of executive functioning issues. At first, this may sound like complicated terminology, but it actually represents the most fundamental aspects of your child’s day-to-day activities. Executive functioning helps all of us to move through various aspects of our daily lives. It helps us to stay organized, arrive at our destinations on time, and even remember what to buy at the grocery store.
If your child struggles with executive functioning they might have difficulties with keeping track of their belongings, completing tasks on time, or remembering things they need to do. You might notice your child has forgotten to turn in assignments, cannot recall information easily, or has a messy backpack.
These symptoms might sound familiar if your child has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. This is because attention disorders and difficulties with executive functioning often coincide. As a parent of a child with ADHD or executive functioning difficulties, you may notice they need extra assistance in organization, recall, and time management. Luckily there are a variety of tools and strategies that can help. Below are four ways to try and help your child improve their executive functioning:
Missing assignments? You might find them in your child’s messy backpack. A child who struggles with executive functioning might not see their cluttered backpack as a problem, but they might not be able to find anything in there either. Want a fast and simple solution? Color-code your child’s school supplies!
Color-coding is a simple but effective way to keep your child organized. Whether your child is five or fifteen, color-coding strategies can help with various aspects of daily life.
For elementary school students, teachers might request color-coded supplies such as different colored folders and composition books for each subject. Once students reach middle and high school, however, they are often expected to keep themselves organized. One of the best ways to help your child transition into a self-regulated organization routine in secondary school is to keep some of the same ideas from elementary. Have your child pick out and label different colored folders and notebooks for each subject. If a teacher has not specified which colors to use, have your child assign each subject to a color that makes sense to them. They can store each notebook inside their coordinating folders.
2. Lists, Agendas and Planners
Can your child remember upcoming assignments? Do they lose track of what they have and have not finished? Lists, agendas and planners can keep your kids on track.
If your child struggles to keep track of tasks to be completed, or gets overwhelmed with multi-step assignments, help them to break things down into a list. They can check the list off as they complete each step or task before moving on to the next one.
If your child has a hard time keeping track of upcoming dates and deadlines, make sure they have an agenda or planner. If your child’s school does not provide an agenda, you may need to purchase one for them to keep in their backpack. Next, show them how to fill out their agenda. Lastly, show them how to check their agenda at least a couple of times for assignments before they begin using it independently. Modeling is important for kids with EF issues. A wall calendar might also be useful in a common space of your home, so you can keep track of upcoming events together. This is a great visual reminder!
3. Brain Breaks
Do you watch your child get frustrated or distracted when trying to study or complete long projects and assignments? Brain breaks can help! If your child has ADHD or struggles with executive functioning, finishing long tasks can be exasperating. In fact, even children who do not have difficulties with executive functioning can get burned out while undertaking long-term projects. Brain breaks are a great way for children and adults to get re-energized and focused.
Brain breaks are usually only five to ten minutes long. The key is to relax but not stray too far from the task. The best way to make sure your child gets a break without losing focus is to set a timer, so they know they have to come back to the project. They also need to engage in something relaxing, not over-stimulating. Relaxing music, deep breathing, a healthy snack or some light, quick exercise can all be helpful brain breaks.
4. Helpful Apps
Need some extra technology help with improving executive functioning? There are plenty of apps to help with this! Here are 3 of the kid and parent favorites being used out there today:
If your child struggles to remember terms, dates, or definitions, Quizlet can be a great help! This app is loaded with quizzes, flash cards and games that can keep your child engaged and learning, all while having fun doing it.
To check it out or download, click here.
If you and your child struggle to keep up with all the checklists, to-do lists and even packing lists, then Wunderlist could be your solution. Wunderlist is free, customizable, and can link multiple users. It is a great tool for keeping your entire family organized and on track.
Check Wunderlist out here.
If your whole family has a whole lot going on, Google calendar could be a great way to keep your child in the loop. Google calendar is a great combination of communication and color-coding. It will help everyone keep track of upcoming dates and events.
For the Google Calendar app, click here.
Parents, the earlier you can detect executive functioning issues in your children, the quicker you can begin to help your child get organized. Contact Dynamis Learning Academy to schedule a FREE 15 minute consultation that discusses your child’s need. We value a child’s education and want to help find a solution. We listen to what the problem may be and then match a tutor that is well qualified to help solve the problem. We have tutors of various specialties (i.e., special education, reading specialists, writing, math, etc.) that are flexible to meet the parent where it’s most convenient. Contact us today to help solve your problem!