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A Word From Our Experts: Supporting Executive Functioning Skills

A Word From Our Experts: Supporting Executive Functioning Skills

RCDS presents "A Word from Our Experts", a blog-like piece authored by our expert team of faculty and staff. See here for a word from Director of Student Services and Head of the Carmody School Natalie Diehl who provides timely information regarding executive functioning as we begin distance learning. 

As we all adapt to this new reality and figure out ways to help our children succeed through learning from home, it is important to help them continue to practice their developing executive functioning skills.

What are Executive Functioning Skills?
Executive functions are the skills in our brain that help us accomplish our goals. They are the basis for so many skills! They help us to plan, organize, start, and follow through with all tasks. Learning from home is a totally new experience for many of us, so utilizing executive functions will be very important at this time.

How can I help my child?
First, set up a schedule for your child to follow. For example, wake up at 7:00, eat breakfast, shower and prepare for the school day, ready to learn. After school, have lunch, go outside and play, read for twenty minutes. After dinner, prepare for the next day, pick out clothes, check email and Google Classrooms, check planner.

Getting children into a routine will help create some sense of normalcy in this uncertain time. Write the schedule on a large piece of paper and tape it to the fridge or write it on a whiteboard where everyone can see it. Stick to the schedule.

Designate a learning space for your child. These spaces should include all the materials she/he will need for the school day, including her/his class schedule, iPad, planner, binder, pencil/pen, notebooks, calculator, charging cords, headphones, snack and water bottle. This space should be free from distractions. Turn off the television, silence the phone, and have siblings separated, if possible.

Have your child continue to use their planner. If they do not use a planner yet, have them write down or you write the assignments down for the day on a piece of paper or in a notebook. Be sure to include daily assignments, as well as, upcoming assignments, such as tests/quizzes and long term assignments' due dates. 

As each task is completed, check it off. Now, doesn't that feel great? Have children keep up with assignments in real time. Do not put assignments off until later, this will only make them more difficult to complete later on, which will cause work overload and then the dreaded...procrastination. 

Prioritize independent tasks. What is the most important thing that needs to get done first? What is the second? And so on. Planning out how to approach a task will also help with task initiation and completion.

Encourage your child to ask questions and self-advocate. This can be done during virtual class time or through email. Encourage your child to communicate with their teachers independently.  This is uncharted waters for everyone. Have your child voice what they need. Teachers cannot help, if they do not know.

At the end of the school day, check back that all tasks are completed and upcoming assignments are written down in the planner.  Also, prepare for the next day by looking at the schedule, check email and check all Google Classrooms for upcoming lessons, materials and assignments. 

As the old saying goes, it takes a village. We can do this!

If you have any questions regarding executive functioning tips and strategies, please do not hesitate to reach out to Mrs. Diehl at ndiehl@rcds.org

RCDS Parents: You can easily access your child's schedule by following these simple steps:

  1. Log into the Parent Portal.
  2. Click on the button labeled MORE
  3. Navigate to the tabs for SCHOOL & then SCHEDULE
  4. Choose the HALF DAY UPPER SCHOOL or HALF DAY LOWER SCHOOL option from the pull down menu.
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