Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer, Summer, Summer: Promoting Executive Skills!

It comes as no surprise to many of you that our youngsters have some difficulties staying on top of things in school. For example, forgetting to turn in homework, not completing assignments, not keeping track of assignments, and not knowing due dates. Well, all these things have something in common. They are what we call executive functioning skills. Executive skills are those involved in planning and completing activities, organization, time management, and metacognition. Although many of you, parents and teachers, as well as myself, have worked tirelessly to get our youngsters on track with these tasks, we must remember that these are skills that take time to develop and that it is a slow process. Many parents have asked me how they can promote these skills in the summertime so that the progress made is not lost. Here are just a few suggestions of what you can do to promote these skills in the much less-structured summertime:

• Create a weekly/daily schedule and review it with the child regularly. For children a bit older have them keep their own schedule and review it with them.
• Have a reflection time to review how things are going. Discuss what is and is not working, what to do about it, etc.
• Give the child responsibilities around the home as well as expectations of when they should be completed.
• Talk to your child about concepts of time and time management. Have the child estimate how long it will take to complete tasks, and afterward review with them the actual time it took to complete the task.
• Create summertime goals with the child. For older children, have them be multi-step goals that require them to keep up on things.

Anything that requires planning, organization, reflection, time management, etc., will keep their brains working and promote these skills so that they are ready to tackle the upcoming school year!

Morgan Dahle, M. Ed
Adolescent Director

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