Executive Function 101: Independence

This is the fourth post in a five-part series about Executive Function. Each post includes downloadable templates to use at home and in the classroom. The first article is about managing time. The second addresses managing materials, the third addresses managing information, and the fifth finding balance between school and extra-curricular activities.

executive function templates room cleanup
Download the Room Clean-up and Daily Checklists.

The ultimate goal to mastering executive function skills is achieving independence. This gives us the liberty to take on new challenges and thrive.

Once students have been introduced to the skills and strategies to manage, and in some cases, overcome executive function deficits, the goal is to push them to become independent learners. First and foremost, students achieve independence when they understand themselves, their strengths, weaknesses, foibles, and learning style. The next step is to take all of this information and make adjustments to best manage time, information, and materials, and to ultimately be a confident and effective self advocate

Tips

  • Practice new skills.
  • Build time into the day to reflect, update, prioritize, plan, review.
  • Refine skills to suit your learning style.
  • Know yourself.
  • Self advocate for your needs.

Support at Home

Most experts agree that families and guardians must listen to their students struggling with executive function deficits. They should encourage their students to master skills for school and home and practice them regularly. Robin Day-Laporte, the head of the Study Skills department at Landmark School, said, “As students encounter more opportunities for success and failure and as time passes and they grow up, their executive function skills are strengthened. Failure is okay—it appropriately challenges the brain and a child’s character. Opportunities to fail help a child to develop problem-solving skills and build resiliency.

“And as it relates to helping a child grow, develop, and eventually transition out of high school, I encourage parents to know their children, to watch and listen to figure out what they love and what truly brings them joy, and then to honor and cultivate that. If a child genuinely loves what they are doing, they are motivated. And motivation is a key component of executive functioning.”  

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