Executive Functioning: How to help your child or student finish tasks.
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
To help our children or students become more organized, we break tasks down for them and make lists to follow. But…
Ever wonder why your child or student cannot follow directions even though you have made out a perfect list of instructions? You may find them deviate from the plan, maybe doing the steps differently, or even doing their homework on the couch instead of the kitchen table, as you instructed. Instead of thinking that your child or student is hopeless, realize that they are creating their own instructions. Not everyone solves problems in the same way. By teaching our child or student how to solve problems the way we would solve them, we miss one big step in teaching our kids organization… Executive Functioning skills. Guiding them to figure out how to get organized or solve problems and creating their own directions is much more meaningful, and they will have greater success in finishing tasks.
To start, we can give prompting comments like, “How do you want to get started?” or “Do you have any ideas on how you want to accomplish this task?” Now your child or student who struggles with Executive Functioning skills will have no idea how to start. So coaching them to figure out their own directions instead of telling them the directions is a much better way to go. Again, verbal prompts will come in handy while coaching your child or student. Please encourage them to write out their plan, even use pictures of their choosing. Go through many different ways of accomplishing their goal. Think of ideas together, showing your child or student the many different ways things can be accomplished. From this way of thinking, they learn to think outside the box and learn what works and what doesn’t work for them. You will have much greater success in teaching them how to learn for themselves and create their own directions instead of giving them instructions for each home or school task. The goal is to teach your child and student to become independent and utilize these taught strategies to further their academic career.
For the IEP, what does that look like? The question the TEAM needs to answer is whether your child or student needs specialized instruction or accommodations? What I listed above would be considered specialized instruction—the actual teaching of using strategies. Accommodation would be what the child already knows how to do and needs the accommodation to access the curriculum.