By Saskia Nilsen, M.A. Learning Specialist and RITES advocate
Executive functioning affects learning and influences how your child performs in school on just about any type of academic assignment. People with EF challenges can have difficulty:
- Planning a project
- Comprehending how much time a project will take to complete
- Telling a story verbally or in writing because they have trouble communicating details in an organized, sequential manner
More significantly, EF can impact the mental strategies involved in memorizing and retrieving information from memory. Classic teacher comments for executive function challenged students are:
- They have trouble initiating activities or tasks
- Struggle to generate ideas independently
- Have difficulty retaining information while doing something with it, such as copying from the board
While there is no single test to diagnose executive functioning deficits, these challenges are often associated with other profiles like ADHD and Asperger’s, and can parallel school performance-based anxiety. It makes sense that someone who struggles with most academic tasks because of executive functioning issues would feel anxious about their school experience.
Most of these struggles center around what teachers call “study skills,” which are usually not taught in the classroom. Although some study skills may come naturally to some students, students with executive functioning deficit profiles need to be taught in explicit steps how to develop study skills and habits.
There are many effective strategies that can help a student with EF tackle school tasks that do not come naturally. It is key that people with these challenges use systematic approaches to learning tasks like those taught in the RITES Study Smarter, Not Harder course.
(Stay tuned for Executive Functioning, Part 3: What Can Be Done to Support Executive Functioning Challenges at Home – coming up in February.)