“My son always starts his project the night before it is due and rushes to complete it in time! He keeps getting points taken off school assignments for handing them in halfway done.”
“Our daughter’s desk is always messy with piles of papers and clutter. She always seems to misplace things!
“I take the time to plan and organize my thoughts before starting a big project, but always seem to lose track of time. Ugh!”
Sound like anyone you know?
All of these scenarios may be indicative of weak executive function skills.
Executive function skills are mental skills that help us filter distractions, organize information, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.
The good news is that executive function skills can be nurtured and strengthened through practice and coaching. An executive function (EF) coach can help you or your child develop the mental skills needed to focus attention, think flexibly, and direct your own learning.
But, what exactly is an executive function (EF) coach?
An EF coach is someone who helps you learn and implement strategies to improve your ability to focus, think flexibly, and control your impulses. An EF coach helps students learn how to control what they say, what they do, and how they think in order to achieve their goals. Like any good coach, an EF coach directs your behavior, energizes you, and encourages persistence along your journey (Dawson & Guare, 2018).
What’s the difference between an EF coach and an EF tutor?
A high school teacher of mine always told us to “show, don’t tell” in our writing in order to lead the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, and senses rather than the author’s summarization and description.
Show, don’t tell can help us understand the difference between an EF coach and an EF tutor. A coach guides you by showing you the way whereas a tutor directs you by telling you the way. By acting as a guide, an EF coach helps students draw out these mental skills with encouragement and motivation.
For this reason, EF coaching is the ideal intervention strategy to help students of all ages improve executive functioning (Dawson & Guare, 2018).
How do I know if my child could benefit from an EF coach?
Your child may benefit from an executive function coach if they have difficulty:
Staying on track
Remembering what to do and when to do it
Managing their time
Organizing their environment and study space
Taking notes effectively
Creating study routines
Breaking down projects into steps
Planning for the future
Prioritizing tasks and time
Getting started on a task
Managing emotions and impulses
Evaluating their performance and making appropriate adjustments
Maintaining self-accountability for completing steps in long-term projects
Dawson, P. and Guare, R. (2018). Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention (3rd Edition). New York, New York: The Guilford Press.
Jenny Traver, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS
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