An executive functioning coach, professionally dressed, pointing at a laptop screen with an open educational software, providing guidance to a focused student sitting next to them.

What Is an Executive Functioning Coach?

Today’s world is full of growing distractions. Even within the classroom, students need to have developed or be developing effective executive functioning skills in order to wade through the plethora of screens, events, and other distractions competing for their attention in order to achieve their goals.

An executive functioning coach can equip students with specific skills to help them navigate these daily challenges so they can plan, organize, and complete their tasks with confidence. Executive function coaching can build students into self managers and thus, better learners, setting them up for success in school and beyond.

In this article, we break down what executive functioning is and how executive function coaching can support students for success. 

Defining Executive Functioning

An ADHD coach, passionately pointing to a specific passage in a book, as she imparts knowledge to an engrossed student sitting nearby. The scene captures a key moment of personalized instruction in managing and thriving with ADHD.

Executive function may sound like a lofty psychological concept, but let’s break it down. According to Harvard University, executive function is the learned skill set that allows you to “plan ahead and meet goals, display self-control, follow multiple-step directions even when interrupted, and stay focused despite distractions.” Executive function is often grouped with self-regulation, which is a person’s ability to control their responses to situations, emotions, and more.

Merriam-Webster, meanwhile, defines executive function as “the group of complex mental processes and cognitive abilities (such as working memory, impulse inhibition, and reasoning) that control the skills (such as organizing tasks, remembering details, managing time, and solving problems) required for goal-directed behavior.”

At Effective Students, we define executive functioning skills as those which fall into two categories: Academic Management Skills and Social Emotional Skills.  For students, executive functioning skills can be what makes the difference between success and frustration, the willingness to persevere or procrastinate. A bright student with poor executive functioning skills, which may also be called executive dysfunction, may struggle with evaluating resources, completing tasks, or even focusing on a test in front of them, even if they’re passionate about the subject area. 

The skills associated with executive function must be learned, yet they are not necessarily taught in a standard curriculum.  While the discrete skills fall into either category, we often observe the skills or skill deficits compounding.  For instance, poor time management skills can lead to anxiety, and, as a result, the student cannot start an academic task (task initiation). To solve the student’s challenge, one must have an ability to get to the root cause of what is holding the student back.  

What Is an Executive Functioning Coach?

An executive functioning coach, like the academic coaches at Effective Students, equips students with  skills to help them manage academics such as  processes for organization, task management, and planning. For students who struggle to evaluate resources, formulate plans, and follow through, an executive functioning coach can be a game changer, working alongside the student to develop confidence and competence so the student can overcome previous obstacles to success.

Typically, an executive functioning coach will inquire and clarify to get to know the student, his or her goals, challenges and personal wins as a way to build rapport and align themselves with the student. Effective Student coaches will balance a student’s goals with the goals of the parent, often fostering or bridging communication gaps. Together as a team, a coach and student can clearly define an obstacle the student is facing, then scaffold the steps to success and help hold the student accountable to follow through, while simultaneously connecting with the student emotionally. 

An effective academic coach will instruct and then model the habits and skills that are most needed for independence and self-direction while staying humble and relatable. All the while, the academic coach will keep an open line of communication, plus encourage and celebrate the student as they develop skills and learn to persevere. 

Elements of Executive Function

Executive function is an umbrella term that covers a range of interconnected neurological elements, including working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control.

According to the NIH, working memory is the ability to store information for short-term, task-related use. Working memory is utilized in comprehension, planning, and reasoning.

Mental flexibility is the ability to adjust your attention and responses based on various demands, settings, or rules. 

Self-control is the ability to resist impulses, set priorities, and follow through on those priorities. Self-control also encompasses resisting emotional responses to unexpected information or situations and is dependent on self-awareness.

Working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control represent just three of the many interrelated skills that comprise executive function. A good executive functioning coach will help students understand the importance of each skill and how to leverage it for success.

Other skills related to executive functioning include:

  • organization, 
  • time management, 
  • planning and prioritizing, 
  • sustained attention,
  • task initiation (getting started)
  • emotional control, 
  • flexible thinking, 
  • goal directed persistence, 
  • metacognition (thinking about your thinking and self awareness), 
  • response inhibition (thinking before acting/texting/speaking), and 
  • stress tolerance.  


ADHD and Executive Function Disorder

A bored little girl struggles with her homework as her concerned parents look on.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can coexist with other learning difficulties for children, but what is the connection between ADHD and executive dysfunction? Executive dysfunction is a common, often central feature of learning disabilities and other disorders, including ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, says the Institute of Education Sciences. It can also absolutely occur in highly gifted and committed students in challenging academic environments.

Students with ADHD have unique challenges, though, and thus may experience executive dysfunction to varying degrees. People who do not have ADHD can still experience executive dysfunction. To learn more about the relationship between ADHD and executive function, read our article, “ADHD & Executive Functioning – The Chicken or the Egg?”

Executive function issues are commonly present in students with ADHD, and thus, students often experience significant benefits from executive functioning coaching. Students without ADHD can also utilize executive functioning coaching as enrichment and acceleration, honing their skills and developing better habits and skills before college, graduate school, or careers.

What Does Executive Dysfunction Look Like in Students?

Executive dysfunction can present itself in a variety of ways across students, making it hard to identify.  Some students may give up when they encounter difficulties or have an emotional reaction since they lack the skill of self-regulation, while  others may grow anxious from the pressure and stay up until the wee hours of the morning trying to perfect an assignment.

Students with executive dysfunction often feel overwhelmed by school, frustrated that it appears to be so much more difficult for them than their peers, which can lead to a perception that they are less of a student or are not capable. 

Utilizing an Executive Functioning Coach for Students

Students engaging in focused study on the floor, each absorbed in their laptops. Their organized surroundings and concentrated effort are a showcase of their developed study and time management skills, a result of their fruitful engagement with Effective Students.

When considering an executive functioning coach, it’s important to ask whether they plan to work on social emotional learning skills, academic management skills, or both. When students struggle with executive functioning, goal setting can be a helpful strategy, but goal setting alone will not cure or resolve skill deficits such as poor time management or poor study skills. Students appreciate direct instruction in how to overcome the challenges they experience with task Initiation or planning and prioritizing rather than discussing strategies to do so. Most students with ADHD are experiential learners, so coaches have to create experiences for students to learn.   

Overall, executive functioning coaching can help students work smarter instead of harder when the instruction is intentional, and students have the opportunity to practice lessons that have an immediate positive impact or outcome. With practice, when students develop strong executive functioning skills, they will find that they can apply them post-academia and into their personal lives and eventual careers.

Executive functioning coaches who work with students may also be called academic coaches, but it’s important to note that they are not tutors. Tutors focus on a specific subject area, such as math, with the goal of improving grades. Academic coaches focus on teaching students processes and skill sets that can be applied to any subject with the goal of evaluating resources, creating a reliable plan, and consistently following through

With executive functioning coaching, students can:

  • Improve study skills
  • Manage time better
  • Build confidence
  • Learn to study efficiently
  • Become academically independent
  • Stop procrastinating
  • Become confident and competent in managing their affairs

At Effective Student, we utilize the Effective Student Method™ through online academic management courses, one-on-one coaching, and workshops for students.


Benefits of an Executive Functioning Coach

An executive functioning coach can help to bridge the gap between educator, parent, and student to better communicate about academic goals, skills, and expectations. 

At Effective Students, our courses, workshops, and coaching are specially designed with the needs of students in mind, providing hands-on experiences and practice to help cement key skills. Students can combine the engaging online courses with live virtual or in-person coaching, so they can talk about the real struggles they are encountering at school and create a plan to address those obstacles. 

A tenth grade student who took the Effective Student Method™ course said, “I learned tools to not only be a better student but to increase my abilities as a student. This class has opened my eyes and helped me to change my learning techniques for a better end result.”

The Effective Student program provides:

  • Increased academic achievement
  • Increased memory function
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Increased collaboration
  • Better behavior and focus 
  • Better emotional management
  • Better stress management
  • Better problem solving

The Effective Student Method™ Roadmap

The Effective Student Method™ course coupled with coaching is our most popular way to improve executive function in students, teaching them a step-by-step academic management style where they can see their progress. The course is appropriate for students from fourth grade to twelfth grade.

The course empowers students from the start, with an introduction that explains executive functioning and learning. Students are invited into the methodology rather than kept in the dark, becoming a partner in the process.

Next, the students delve into mini-lessons that focus on the pillars of organization, time management, and study skills. Throughout the course, students can schedule one-on-one coaching sessions to talk about what they’re learning with an expert academic coach who’s ready to cheer them on.

The Effective Students online course includes interactive lessons, instructional videos, exercises, quizzes, online materials, and a pacing guide for parents and students.

Discover Academic Coaching with Effective Students

Executive functioning coaching can make a world of difference for a student struggling to find academic success. At Effective Students, we carefully curated our programming to deliver impactful, engaging executive functioning skills to the students who need it most, launching them toward academic success.

If academic coaching may be right for you or your student, explore the Effective Student Method™ course and one-on-one coaching sessions. Contact our team to learn more.

Learn about the differences between Executive Dysfunction vs. Procrastination

Executive Dysfunction vs. Procrastination: Understanding the Difference in Students

When your student puts off their work, you may find yourself asking: are they simply procrastinating? Procrastination is tied closely to the behavioral condition called executive dysfunction—to the point where the two terms are often confused or misused.

In this article, we’ll define and differentiate executive dysfunction and procrastination.

What Is Executive Dysfunction?

To understand executive dysfunction, we must first define executive function. Executive function is the skill set that lets a person evaluate resources, formulate a plan and follow through with the plan to reach their intended goals.

Executive functioning skills is an umbrella term that represents almost a dozen discrete skills, including organization, time management, planning and prioritizing, sustained attention, Working memory, task initiation (getting started), emotional control, flexible thinking, goal directed persistence, metacognition (thinking about your thinking and self awareness), response inhibition (thinking before acting/texting/speaking), and stress tolerance.

Well-developed executive functions require a dance of all of these skills summarized as a self-regulatory process that connects cognition with action and behavior.

On the other hand, executive dysfunction, sometimes called executive function disorder (EFD), is a behavioral condition where a person has significant challenges calling on their executive function skills, making it difficult to plan ahead, stay focused, problem-solve, and more. However, executive functions are skills, which means they can be developed with instruction and practice.


Executive Dysfunction and ADHD

Executive dysfunction is still being studied, but it has a clear connection to other conditions, like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Students with ADHD have unique challenges, though, and thus may experience executive dysfunction to varying degrees. People who do not have ADHD can still experience executive dysfunction.  To learn more about the relationship between ADHD and Executive Function, see our article, “ADHD & Executive Functioning – The Chicken or the Egg?”

According to ADDitude Magazine, “ADHD is a biologically based disorder and a developmental impairment of executive functions—the self-management system of the brain.” It can help educators and students alike to think of executive functions as little managers in the brain, organizing tasks and planning ahead.


What Is Procrastination?

Procrastination is the deliberate action of postponing doing a task, even though the consequences of the delay are known. For example, if a student has two weeks to complete a project  assignment but does not get started on it until the day before, most parents and educators assume the student has procrastinated. 

The key word here being
deliberate, which means intentionally; in this case, if a student has procrastinated, he or she intentionally or deliberately waited to do the assignment. If procrastination is at play, most often the student is exhibiting a behavior.  To learn more about the difference between a behavior or a skill, check out our article, ”Behavior and the Wizard of Oz: What’s Behind the Curtain?”

Scientific Reports defines procrastination as “a self-regulatory problem of voluntarily and destructively delaying intended and necessary or personally important tasks.” For students and young people, it can be especially difficult to identify how procrastination negatively impacts not only their grades but also their overall behavioral health.


Comparing Executive Dysfunction and Procrastination

Put simply, executive dysfunction is a condition where one has consistent difficulties with the cognitive and behavioral skills related to planning, managing, and executing tasks, while procrastination is the deliberate avoidance of completing a task.  While it appears that procrastination is a common occurrence for a student struggling with executive dysfunction, it is important to distinguish that often skill deficits in task initiation or planning and prioritizing are instead present, rather than intentional procrastination.

In practice, it can be challenging to distinguish whether executive dysfunction or procrastination are present since they share a lot of overlap, thus they can be hard to untangle, particularly when they present so similarly in the classroom environment. Fortunately, well-developed executive function skills built on sound processes can both remedy the executive skill of task initiation and lead to timely work completion and reduced anxiety and stress.


Causes of Executive Dysfunction

Despite how commonly executive dysfunction occurs, we don’t know its true cause. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Experts don’t fully understand why executive dysfunction happens, or why it can take so many different forms.” It has been linked to a range of other factors and conditions, including ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism spectrum disorder, depression, degenerative brain diseases, and more.

However, almost all teens with or without a specific diagnosis struggle with executive function skills.   These critical skills are developed through the teen years and are managed by the prefrontal cortex or the frontal lobe of the brain. The prefrontal cortex develops between the ages of 13 and 23 (and sometimes up through 25 for individuals with ADHD) which is why we observe teens struggling to connect their choices with outcomes. To read more about the Teen Brain, see this article from American Academic of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Teen Brain: Behavior, Problem Solving and Decision Making.”

When a student is observed not completing a project over time, or waiting until the last minute to complete homework, if educators had the instructional tools to deliberately teach students how to plan, prioritize and break assignments into manageable parts, it would be easier to identify if executive dysfunction or procrastination habits occurred first for a student. 

Exploring the origin of why a specific student is having such a hard time getting started on their work (the skill of task initiation) will inform the appropriate instructional strategy. From there, teachers can tailor instruction for the student or groups of students to help them develop skills to overcome their executive dysfunction and eliminate the habit of procrastination.

For many  students, a lack of knowledge impairs them from starting. As adults, we are quick to assume that a student doesn’t do something because they don’t want to, not because they actually don’t know how to. If a student is confused about the outcome of the project or struggles with the subject material, they don’t know how to begin. 

Students may not feel confident that they know enough about the task to do it, or they experience anxiety about how challenging they perceive it to be, so they simply do not start. As academic coaches, we often see written project handouts and assignment sheets that appear to be clear to the teacher, but when we review them with the student, they are missing key components for students to follow a step-by-step process.  

In other situations, students are charged with completing tasks that are unenjoyable, boring, or cumbersome—maybe it’s their least favorite school subject or class. As adults, we may forget the lack of agency many students feel, since It’s easy to forget how having to complete unpreferable tasks is part of growing up. 

As adolescents, students have not developed the self-discipline to push past these negative feelings and get started anyway.  We often observe students  prioritizing non-academic pursuits that they consider to be more fun or engaging. We could share thousands of examples but in the age of cell phones, but we think you get the idea.

Executive dysfunction is closely tied to ADHD, but whether it’s a cause or a symptom is still up for debate. It’s important to consider that students with ADHD or other conditions may concurrently experience symptoms beyond executive dysfunction that affect their classroom experience and behavior.


Symptoms of Executive Dysfunction in Students

Executive dysfunction can have the following symptoms (just to name a few):

  • Inability to manage and control emotions
  • Information processing challenges
  • Trouble managing and organizing tasks and materials
  • Inability to plan ahead for future events
  • Trouble with follow-through on long-term actions


For example, a student may sit down to work on one homework assignment but completely miss that they have another assignment as well. They could forget about the upcoming test they have or let their fear prevent them from committing to studying.

Students with executive dysfunction may display an inability to self-regulate in terms of both cognition and behavior. Some of their peers may look at step-by-step directions and get started with ease, but that type of self-management isn’t possible for them due to their executive dysfunction.


6 Strategies to Address Executive Dysfunction

An executive functioning coach working with a student.

  1. Build behavioral momentum. Take the time to clearly communicate how it will be easier to start with one or two aspects of the task and go from there. The student will build confidence as they approach more difficult activities. 
  2. Set sub-goals. Break down the assignment into smaller parts that are easier for the student to understand. These sub-goals can serve as checkpoints and make it easier to monitor progress.
  3. Explain the “why.” Inform the student about why the assignment must be done and give them an idea of the big picture. Resilient Educator explains, “Clearly communicating our expectations and explaining how they align with course competencies helps students see a purpose to their learning.”
  4. Implement a break system. Regular breaks can give students a bit of relief and allow them to regroup with fresh eyes rather than grinding away at the same assignment for hours.  
  5. Be empathetic. Explain to the student that they may experience intrusive negative emotions when they aren’t succeeding at their executive functions, but that’s normal. Reframing for a more positive mindset can foster a healthier relationship with learning.
  6. Fade support. As students become more independent with a process, make sure to take a few steps back so they can begin working on their own.

3 Strategies to Address Procrastination

  1. Don’t label them. Once a student is called a procrastinator, they can adopt the label and decide there’s little they can do about it. Instead, focus on specific strategies to motivate the student.
  2. Show simple steps. Review the expectation of the assignment and the required steps, giving them more time to absorb the information and cement understanding.
  3. Create a schedule. Set aside a specific time block for homework or studying. A sense of routine can help remove some of the outside distractions that feed into procrastination.

Read more tips on how to stop procrastinating homework in this article.


How Academic Coaching Can Address Executive Dysfunction

Academic coaching can be transformative for students.

What is the difference between an academic coach and a tutor? Often, when a student is struggling in class, a tutor is called. Tutors are experts on subject material, though, and not on the study habits and self-regulation skills that students with executive dysfunction experience. Instead of seeking a tutor, students with executive dysfunction can benefit more from an academic coach or executive function courses, like those we offer at Effective Students.  

The popular Effective Student Method™ course teaches executive function skills to students through a step-by-step academic management style where they can see their progress. The course is appropriate for students from fourth grade to twelfth grade.

For students who would benefit from  one-on-one support, our academic success coaches can deliver in-person or virtual sessions. Working alongside the students, academic coaches can model specific skills and monitor progress in real time. Individual instruction affords parent and school collaboration as needed. 


Explore Academic Coaching for Executive Dysfunction and Procrastination

Executive dysfunction and habitual procrastination can be daunting to overcome. Fortunately , you don’t have to do it alone. At Effective Students, we created engaging courses and insightful programs that help students develop a powerful skill set of executive functions, leading to long term success. 

Explore the Effective Student Method™ course and one-on-one coaching sessions from Effective Students. To find the right option for you, contact our team to learn more.

How Schools Can Help Develop Better Students

It is no secret that to retain information one must study. Whether it is for a test in school or a new workflow at a job, a person needs to have a method in place for learning new material. Unless gifted with a photographic memory, you need to have study techniques in place to absorb new things so that you can recall them later when you need them. Skills like note-taking, retrieval practice, creating associations, and finding patterns—are all necessary steps one must take to build content knowledge. 

Study Skills Curriculum In School

Every student is different when it comes to studying. Some might find it easier to remember content with notes in a free-flow form, others may require a more structured format for organizing materials based on subject matter and topics, and some might further yet need interventions to figure out how best to make things stick. But how is a student to discover their most productive and functional method of studying if study methods are not practiced enough to evaluate whether they are effective and this process is not directly taught by educators in a school setting? In a poll of educators in a school, grades 4-6, 85% of teachers believed that the previous grade level was responsible for teaching students how to study.

Clearly, there is a disconnect between educators in regard to study skills lessons and when they become relevant. Students benefit from learning to study at each grade level as content changes, study activities should also change however, the truth is that students are very rarely taught how to study and often don’t figure it out until college. Can you imagine going to work daily without having been trained on how to do your job? Frustrating, to say the least.  When kids move from elementary to middle school and then on to high school, the importance of studying becomes significantly more vital. As students matriculate into higher grade levels, we often see a drop in their grades because study expectations have gone up while study skills have remained static.

The Problem with Teaching Study Skills in School

We are fully aware that there are amazing teachers everywhere that care for the success of their students and are burdened with standardized tests, curriculum objectives, administrative expectations, and often large class sizes—the truth is that educators have a lot on their plates. How could it be possible to add one more learning target with these roadblocks and does every student need to learn study strategies? 

How Effective Students Can Help

At Effective Students, we understand the importance of preparing students for the rigorous study routines expected of them later on in their high school and college years. Our staff of highly trained educators realizes that there is a demand for support within this portion of teaching, so we are here to assist. We partner with schools to help them enlist students in the process. Through simple, powerful mini-lessons, teachers lay the groundwork for students to be vested in systems that result in successful personal outcomes so they develop independence in solving academic challenges.

Our study skills curriculum with lesson plans takes the burden off teachers giving students the processes with accountability tools that lead to independence and academic success.  Clear checklists, video lessons, handouts, and metacognitive exercises equip students to track their study methods and habits. 


The goal is to help students build strong and organized academic management skills. Learning executive functioning skills helps students achieve more academic success. However, my biggest takeaway is how this program can actually bleed over into other aspects of a student’s (or really anyone’s) life. The key for any of us – the student or not – to be successful in life is to use strategies to stay organized, admit and learn what we don’t know, analyze and forecast our time and learn how to adjust when certain strategies or actions are not working. The ability to internalize these skills as early as we can in a student will help them STAY successful as college students as well as working, professional adults. I love the intentionality of learning and infusing any person’s life with these skills and strategies as well as the idea of having the courage to admit and learn what you don’t know. There is power and confidence to be found for anyone to organize their work, identify and forecast their week and use skills/actions to learn what they don’t know. So empowering!

In addition to helping schools, we give parents the opportunity to reach out directly to us to advocate for their own child’s success. We know how busy it is between a full-time job and the responsibilities that come with having a family which is why we provide individualized resources for students and parents as well as academic coaching support that teach your children the best ways to study. 

At Effective Students we offer the following study skills lesson plans that can go a long way in setting the foundations for strong study behaviors:

study skills curriculum


If you are an educator, parent, or student who struggles with studying, we invite you to contact us to see how we can help. Whether it be online workshops or meeting with an academic coach, Effective Students will use our resources and experience in the field to help produce successful outcomes for your students. 


How to Stop Procrastinating Homework

Procrastination creates stress for students and can impact the production of quality work.  Putting things off, for all of us, creates an overall feeling of things hanging over our heads and never being free from responsibility.  

When students procrastinate, they can create a situation that makes it difficult to self-regulate.  When a student is not well-regulated – in other words, they’re experiencing a moderate to high level of anxiety related to homework –  it’s more difficult for their frontal lobe to be engaged in thinking and problem-solving.  

Want to help your student stop procrastinating homework and reach their full academic potential?  This article takes an objective view of homework procrastination to examine the root cause and provides some expert advice on how parents and educators can best help students.

Common Reasons for Procrastinating Homework


So, why is procrastination so common?  Contrary to what many might believe, the root cause has nothing to do with students being ‘lazy’ or dismissive about their schoolwork.  Rather, some of the most common reasons for homework procrastination include,  

  • Students may underestimate the length or complexity of a project because they have not fully developed the concept.
  • When students feel overwhelmed or become aware of the significance of the project/paper/essay etc, they can ‘freeze up’, rendering them incapable of completing any work at all.  
  • Trying to accomplish homework with ADHD presents unique challenges for students; students with ADHD often need help further developing essential executive functioning skills.
  • Some students may not be getting enough sleep and feel exhausted – both physically and mentally; an exhaustive state robs them of their natural ability to motivate. 
  • The home environment where students typically complete homework may have too many distractions. 

The rule of thumb for parents: perspective is key for parents.  Motivating students from a place of shame is a non-starter.  Alternatively, parents will have more success when they objectively consider the root causes for procrastinating homework – anxiety, exhaustion, constant distractions, or living with ADHD – and look for ways to help alleviate these common factors. 

Homework Tips for Parents: A Word On Motivation


First, motivating students is a misnomer.  Students may want to do well, but really do not know how to do well.  Others may procrastinate because they’re afraid to fail or not be perfect.  

Try following these steps to help your student,  

  1. Begin by asking your student if they are open to help.  While students may say no, parents have the ability to respond by saying they respect their position but would kindly ask them to reconsider.  In other words, forcing students to comply simply compounds the stress and frustration the student is experiencing. 
  2. Recognize that your student may be more emotional with you than with a tutor.  It’s not personal – by keeping your emotions in check, you provide a great example of self-regulation for your student to model.  If you need to step away to get a break, do so.  
  3. Model, model, model!  Get involved by reading the assignment out loud with your student, and create a schedule of how to do a little each day so the student learns how to complete a little at a time 
  4. Perhaps the most important thing to do: empathize!  Kids, just like us, want to be understood and supported.  Even as adults, having to do what you don’t like to do stinks – we call it ‘adulting’. Want to shorten the proverbial gap between you and your student? Provide some real-life examples of how you have to do things you don’t like as an adult and acknowledge their feelings.  You will become instantly relatable. 

Additional Homework Tips for Students

  • Start with something easy to help you get going – we call this behavioral momentum.  Format your paper, write your name at the top of the assignment, and answer the question you feel most comfortable with – just get the ball rolling. 
  • After you establish behavioral momentum, tackle something more challenging – but set a timer (around 30 minutes) so you don’t feel like it will take all night. 
  • Some research shows that individuals are more likely to perform better on an assessment when part of a group.  If you have the time and opportunity, join a study group of people who are all working like you.  
  • Create a work/break schedule and definitely put distractions in another room (phone! Or games/Youtube or other streaming videos).  

Creating an Efficient Homework Schedule 

Okay, parents – you likely already know how important structure and routine can be for your kids. In helping your student learn how to stop procrastinating homework, creating a schedule can give them a greater sense of autonomy while helping them manage expectations.   

In a de-escalated environment, (when things are chill) ask your student to create a homework schedule that he/she would like to implement.  After they present it to you, you’ll have an opportunity to give feedback and set up a trial period.  

The proposal itself is a plan;  the student is evaluating their resources (time) and responsibilities (tasks) and formulating a plan.  Ask your student how they want to be held accountable and let them know you want to discuss it with them at the end of the week to evaluate their progress.  

With this approach, parents demonstrate trust in their students and give them an opportunity to practice being self-direct.  The key word here is practice – so, don’t expect it to be perfect!  Over time and with further practice, they will develop these skills.  

Academic Coaching with Effective Students

Fortunately, for parents and students who feel overwhelmed by homework or are frustrated trying to help their kids, there is help in the form of academic coaching from Effective Students. Our academic coaching services empower students who may be struggling to manage materials or assignments, apply what they’re learning, transition into a new academic environment (high school to college, for example), and procrastinate homework due to heightened feelings of anxiety, fear, and exhaustion. 

Learn how to help your child meet and exceed their academic goals – contact us today!

study skills lesson plans

College Readiness & Executive Functioning: Is Your Student Ready for College?

Time moves fast as a parent. One day you’re looking to enroll your child in a pre-K program – then, before you know it, your child is all set to graduate from high school and embark into adulthood. While senior year is an exciting time for your student, transitioning to college also brings the subject of college preparedness to mind for us as parents, raising one critically important question: Is my child ready for college? 


Of course, college may not be the preferred option (or even the most accessible option) for every student – but a wealth of research routinely shows possessing a bachelor’s degree leads to greater income potential compared to a high school diploma. For example, data from 2021 illustrated that individuals who possess a bachelor’s degree earned approximately $22,000 more on average per year when compared to their peers who possessed a high school diploma. 


The same study notes that college graduates were able to navigate the Great Recession better than their peers who did not possess a bachelor’s degree. During economically uncertain times, a college education may afford your student some much-needed stability. 


Despite the clear advantages associated with pursuing a college education, students will inevitably experience a wide array of academic challenges which compromise their ability to earn a degree. Common academic challenges include poor study habits, difficulties comprehending course materials, test anxiety which contributes to negative exam scores, and much more. The ability to meet and exceed these challenges greatly hinges on your student’s overall college readiness

What is College Readiness?


College readiness (also referred to as college preparedness) is defined as the level of competence an independent student requires to enroll and succeed academically in a postsecondary institution offering a bachelor’s degree program. 


Want to help your student get ready for college? Start focusing on what NOT to do for them. As parents and full-time caretakers, we constantly grapple with allowing our children to do things for themselves. It’s easy to lose sight that hardship – and even failure – is oftentimes a precursor to empowerment and autonomy. When it comes to preparing your student for college success, it’s your job to create the space required for your student to decide to do things for themselves. Academic coaching services from Effective Students are specifically designed to show you how. 

College Readiness Skills = Executive Functioning

Executive functioning skills are the number one indicator of long-term success. Self-awareness, a lead executive functioning skill, coupled with self-management, is what can make freshman year a success or failure. The late years of high school and early years of college are when students have the real opportunity to develop these skills through practice, success, struggles, and adjustments.    


The sooner students become independent with executive functioning skills, the more prepared they’ll be for studies in higher education. Life will expose this skill or lack thereof. So, if we’re intentional about building these skills in our kids, they will develop the ability to self-direct, no matter which path they choose.


Effective Students will help your child become aware of what they can do themselves and become more independent, while also assuring parents that their concerns are being addressed.  Our academic coaches are ready to help college students achieve academic success.

How to Get Ready for College with Effective Students


Need help with college prep? Check out the Effective College Connection specifically designed for students transitioning out of High School and moving on to college.  We make getting ready for college easier for students, empowering them with the skills that help them achieve their goals in education, paving the way to college success. Have questions about whether this is right for your student?  Contact us for more information or to learn more about our academic coaching solutions

how to help your child develop self-regulation skills

Helping Your Child Develop Self-Regulation Skills

Setbacks are a natural part of life. The perfect plan is usually too good to be true and is often never executed as intended; there’s almost always a pesky roadblock that keeps things from running smoothly. Whether that be a pop quiz that messes with a student’s chances of getting an A in a class, an injury that keeps an athlete from playing in the final game of a season, or a literal roadblock in the form of traffic that makes someone late for class, there’s always going to be challenges that we’re going to have to face. Unfortunately, this can be a hard reality for a lot of young people and sometimes their reactions to adversity make an unfavorable situation worse. This is when self-regulation skills, also known as self-management skills, become an invaluable resource for young people in school and later on in life.

Emotional Quotient and Why It Matters

Self-regulation skills are one of the five main characteristics that make up an individual’s emotional quotient (EQ), or in other words: emotional intelligence. Self-regulation, self-awareness, motivation, empathy, and social skills work hand in hand to make us part of a well-adjusted member of society. 


Self-regulation is the ability to modulate an emotional response to a desired or undesirable situation or turn of events. Examples are remaining calm when things don’t go as planned or refraining from emotionally withdrawing when encountering a setback. Even getting upset but returning to a calm state would qualify as being able to ‘self-regulate’. Having deficiencies in self-management skills makes for an unbalanced EQ, often leading to undesirable outcomes in the form of low self-esteem and low self-confidence for kids and adults in the long run.

Signs of Underdeveloped Self-Management Skills

Parents or teachers may observe a student who is emotionally sensitive in response to situations not going their way, has a large emotional reaction to disappointment or frustration, and/or becomes stuck (rigid) in an angry state and is unable to calm down without external support. These students often fixate on the negative emotions and miss out on opportunities to healthily overcome adversity and grow from the experience. Facing undesirable situations is an inevitable law of life. Using one’s self-regulation skills to emotionally modulate responses is important to get along in social settings, adjust expectations to complete tasks and ultimately learn from mistakes.

Self-Regulation Skills for Children

The ability to self-regulate begins from the moment we’re born into the world. A baby is capable of practicing self-management skills when it self-soothes by sucking on a pacifier or focusing in on the colorful mobiles hanging from atop the crib. Later on, young toddlers and elementary school-aged children learn to reflect on their feelings before they act on their impulses by practicing breathing techniques or counting strategies to cool down if they feel upset in moments of distress. As they age and school becomes more complex these strategies need an upgrade. Higher-level concepts like time management and careful, purposeful planning become crucial to meet the needs of middle school, high school, and college workloads. 

Self-Regulation Skills for Students

Being able to plan around or adjust to potential setbacks is one of the most important skills that a student can have in school. In fact, setbacks are often disguised as learning opportunities.  For instance, you aren’t always able to pick the partner of your choice for a project, and sometimes you’ll feel like there just isn’t enough time to study and also keep up with band or soccer practice. Life gets hectic and the need for discipline and grit is essential when confronting all that life has to throw at us. At Effective Students, we help your student grow by reframing situations and providing guidance using the tenets of good executive functioning coaching. 

Self-Management Skills Examples

Self-regulation and self-management skills fall under the umbrella of executive functioning, encapsulating the necessary mental processes that allow us to focus our attention, plan, and organize tasks effectively, and adjust to the unexpected. 


The following executive functioning skills, when taught successfully by the right coach or teacher and parents will yield incredible results for children that struggle with self-management skills:

  • Planning & Prioritizing
    • With the right scheduling and planning, a student will feel comfortable knowing exactly what is expected during the school day. By having a good plan for the week, you can account for any bumps in the road by prioritizing activities according to their rank of importance. 
  • Organization
    • Having the right materials organized in the way that best suits a student’s learning needs is crucial. There is much relief when you know exactly what works and where it is located. 
  • Time management
    • This goes hand and hand with planning and prioritizing. The busier the schedule, the more time management is necessary to make things happen. A student can feel overwhelmed without a proper sense of time management in their lives. 
  • Emotional Regulation
    • Breathing techniques and other forms of self-awareness including physical activity are excellent channels that go a long way toward helping kids when they encounter stressful or unexpected situations. By incorporating these into their lives, students will grow the appropriate social-emotional responses to many of life’s challenges. 

Find ways to incorporate self-regulation skills activities into the lives of your students and children by visiting and researching our course curriculum and speaking to one of our trained executive functioning coaches! Having well-balanced self-regulation skills is an important part of school and life.  At Effective Students, we can help your student develop the skills to be strong, self-directed learners.

Effective Students Partners with Lead Center for Youth – Investing in the L.E.A.D. Ambassadors

Effective Students today announced a new partnership with L.E.A.D. Center for Youth. This partnership will provide executive function coaching to L.E.A.D. student athletes.


“As a sports-based youth development organization, helping our boys understand that the principles and disciplines learned through sport are transferable to their academic environment is vital to their development of academic self-efficacy,” says Kelly Stewart, Founder at L.E.A.D. Center For Youth. “Partnering with Effective Students is a win/win for us because their academic coaches value sports and understand how to reach student-athletes in a relative way that helps them approach the challenges of academics the same way they approach challenges in baseball.”


“Coaching the L.E.A.D. Ambassadors to develop executive functioning skills is a privilege and priority for us,” says Rachael Barron Founder of Effective Students. “With the personalized support and trusted study skills curriculum, the Ambassadors will continue to grow in dictating their own future and lead us in ours.”


The benefits of this new partnership include:


  • Coaching with a focus on academics and the importance thereof
  • Proven ‘how to’ to be academically successful
  • Specialized instruction for the students who need it


“Making wise decisions and using resources for development are two practices that are coached through L.E.A.D. programming.  We encourage regulation on and off the field, as well as in personal and academic affairs,” Says Sophia Catchings,  L.E.A.D.’s Director of Education and Careers.  “Through partnership with Effective Students the boys are given additional resources and support to promote accountability in their lives.  This is executed by means of small group coaching or one-on-one academic support where Effective Students deliver their notable instructional practices of teaching, demonstrating, and allowing real-world application of executive functioning skills.  Their coaching strategies and prompt feedback supports L.E.A.D. Center for Youth in developing a tailored sports-based youth development program from a holistic approach.  We cannot neglect the STUDENT in the progression of our student-athletes.”


About Effective Students: Effective Students provides academic coaching and curricula to students and educators.  Founded to equip every student with the skills to work smarter and direct their own future academic pursuits, Effective Students works with students 1:1 and in small group to develop the executive functioning skills for long term success.  Partnering with schools and educators, Effective Students also trains educators in the Effective Student Method via the with the purpose of engaging self-directed learners and leaders.


About L.E.A.D. Center for Youth:  Through our year-round Pathway2Empowerment, sport-based youth development (SBYD) programming, L.E.A.D. is inspiring and equipping Black males with the empowerment they need to live sustainable lives of significance.  With the mission of empowering an at-risk generation to lead and transform their city of Atlanta by using the sport of baseball to teach Black boys how to overcome three curveballs that threaten their success: crime, poverty, and racism.


effective students curriculum

How the Top 5 Trends in Education Connect to Effective Students’ Executive Function Curriculum

Recently, an article was published on EHL Insights entitled “5 Trends in Education that Continue in 2022” (Debetaz, 2022).  The article centers around trends that educators should focus on in order to maintain engaging learning environments. While these trends of course connect to classroom learning, the Effective Student Executive Function Curriculum incorporates each of these elements into lessons implemented with students we coach.  Let’s investigate further how the Effective Student Curriculum tackles these 5 trends. 


Trend 1: Growth of Technology

In the article, the influx of technology into the world of education is addressed. Growth of technology and improvements in these resources have increased the flexibility and variety of instruction strategies available to teachers.  Many schools have switched to more online access to materials such as textbooks, learning resources, and assignment planners.  But, with all the increased access to online technology tools, students are left to engage in learning through online platforms that can be challenging to navigate themselves. (Debetaz, 2022).


How does Effective Students incorporate technology into the learning process for students? Lessons focus on engaging with the list of resources available to students in ways that improve learning and are meaningful to students.  For example, students learn to create their own study tools via online gamified learning sites and evaluate their knowledge via self-testing.  Students also work with coaches to learn navigation of their schools’ learning management systems to discover the information they truly need to find in order to successfully stay on target with due dates and assessments thus building their time management and planning skills.   


Trend 2: Soft Skills Training

Debetaz discusses how some of the most critical abilities of employed people center around more soft skills versus the trade-specific skills that were more of a focus in previous years.  Skills such as “critical thinking, problem-solving, people management, and creativity” are some of the most important skills for future leaders to master within the workplace. (Debetaz, 2022).  As teachers, we have all experienced students who struggle with flexible thinking in our classrooms. 


While teachers in the classroom must incorporate these skills into their lesson plans, Effective Students actively incorporate soft skills into the curriculum via activities that build and reward flexible thinking skills and self-awareness.  Effective Student Coaches work with students giving consistent and constructive feedback in order for students to gain increased self-awareness with their own learning, strengths, and weaknesses.  Students are equipped to confront weaknesses, giving them the tools to learn how to overcome these for themselves, leading to success.  


Trend 3: Student Trend of Decreasing Attention Spans

Mentioned in the article by Eric Debetaz is a study conducted by Microsoft related to the attention spans of individuals.  This study, run from 2000 to 2015, found that students’ ability to stay focused decreased from 12 seconds to 8 seconds over the course of this time period. There are many different theories as to why this has changed over time – from access to technology or constant need for stimulation. But, either way, students are clearly needing more consistent engagement during class in order to stay focused on their learning. As Eric Debataz mentioned in the article, “modern students want to be challenged, and they value interaction”(Debetaz, 2022).


Through incorporating an Executive Function Curriculum into the classroom or through one-on-one coaching, students learn ways to recognize their own ability to pay attention and foster engagement through study action time. Effective Students focuses on study actions, instead of study strategies or duration, as ways to teach students to identify ways to engage in multisensory activities for test preparation, as opposed to rote memorization or passive studying. Students become active participants in their education, including evaluating their content knowledge and preparation steps thus creating opportunities for deeper engagement and problem-solving in their own futures. 


Trend 4: Facilitating Learning vs Teaching

Throughout the addition of technology into classrooms, along with greater access to information worldwide, the job of the classroom teacher has evolved into a guiding role as students learn to obtain information using their own resources.  The author of “5 Trends in Education that Continue in 2022” mentions how teachers must guide students to “understand how to learn, to love learning, and how to uncover and understand the information they find” (Debetaz, 2022).  Eric Debetaz goes on to explain how the “best teachers will be those who can help students take ownership of their learning” (Debetaz, 2022). 


At Effective Students, our mission when working with students is to help them learn to understand themselves as learners and to take ownership of their own learning, just as Debetaz mentioned.  As we work with our students through the Executive Function Curriculum, students learn to become more self-aware, self-sufficient, and independent.  Our focus as educators is to help students learn to tackle challenges that arise and be unafraid to engage in struggles. It’s not whether students will encounter struggles, but rather how they respond to them.  The Effective Student Curriculum is intentionally designed to build this competency in students. 


Trend 5: Lifelong Learning Trend

The final trend reflected upon in this article is how the current job market has created careers where individuals must continue updating their education after joining the workforce.  With how quickly markets, technology, and careers shift in today’s society, it has become impossible for companies to stay current without continuous engagement in learning from their employees.  Thus, Debetaz argues that teachers must now create further opportunities for “teaching self-learning so that students can continue to learn and engage in their chosen fields”  (Debetaz, 2022).  


At Effective Students, engagement in learning and continued desire to progress forward in one’s education is a key component of the curriculum.  Coaches work to encourage students to find motivation in educational pursuits.  Students learn self-direction and self-reflection throughout the curriculum how to identify their own scheduling and time management constraints, which creates opportunities for them to also identify ways to get ahead on what’s coming next. Furthermore, students work on how identifying their own weaknesses and strengths through consistent self-reflection. These skills directly translate to engaging with the modern workforce, where time management, getting ahead, and self-reflection are key to learning more and helping move a company forward.  


The article “5 Trends in Education that Continue in 2022” focused on classroom trends that are occurring around the world today. At Effective Students, though, we see these trends as lasting new methods of addressing an ever-changing classroom and work environment.  Thus, the Effective Students Curriculum focuses on engaging learners in their own learning process and helping them gain the self-awareness necessary to be active participants in their education moving forward. 


Cited Sources: 


Debetaz, Eric (2022). 5 Trends in education that continue in 2022. Retrieved from: https://hospitalityinsights.ehl.edu/education-trends-2022 

executive function lessons

Executive Functioning Lessons for Success

It seems as early as elementary school, students are hearing about how they need to be “prepared for the future”.  The pressures of getting into advanced courses begin, even at the start of middle school. Students are then encouraged to focus on college preparation and readiness. With all of this focus on success in the future, what are schools doing to ensure students are developing the skills now to succeed once they get there? 


Perhaps the biggest determinant of success, both in school and in life, is not actually subject matter knowledge, but rather a mastery of Executive Functioning Skills.  Executive Functioning Skills center around flexible thinking, organizational skills, time management, and emotional regulation.  So, this begs the question, how can we, as educators and parents, ensure that students are best able to grow and develop Executive Functioning Skills? A systematic, scaffolded Executive Functioning Curriculum with a set of specific Executive Functioning Lessons designed to address these skills incrementally, with exercises to help students become aware of and build these competencies.

Executive Function Classes

Educators approach designing lessons and learning experiences that reinforce understanding and move toward the ultimate goal of content mastery.  As stated in Understanding by Design, teachers “must be able to state with clarity what the student should understand and be able to do as a result of any plan” set forth in the curriculum (Wiggins et al., 2005, p. 14).  


In the article Curriculum Design: Definition, Purpose, and Types, Karen Schweitzer mentions when learners are at the center of curriculum design, this is “meant to empower [students] and allow them to shape their education through choices” (Schweitzer, 2020).  At Effective Students, the Executive Function lessons have been designed to center on the learners’ needs and meet students where they are, both academically and organizationally.  This approach empowers learners to take charge of their own study plans, time management, and analysis of success.


As educators design curriculum for the classroom, Effective Students has done the same in the world of Executive Functions by creating a curriculum plan with an intentional focus on what it means to grow this particular set of skills.  Students work through a consistent cycle of practice, teacher feedback and self-awareness, and adjustments to practice in order to develop skills such as organization, time management, study actions, and the test analysis process.  This consistent cycle of feedback encourages higher learning outcomes with “measurable knowledge, skills, and attitudes” of students (Schweitzer, 2020).  Students gain independence with their own learning and confidence to approach challenging situations moving forward.  


If you’re looking for ways to incorporate Executive Functioning Lessons and have a robust Executive Functioning Curriculum in your school, check out our online teacher training and teacher instructional manual.  Help your students better prepare for all the things their futures may hold!


Cited Sources: 


Schweitzer, Karen. (2020, October 29). Curriculum design: Definition, purpose and types. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/curriculum-design-definition-4154176

Wiggins, G., Wiggins, G.P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Ascd. 

adhd homework strategies

How to Focus on Homework with ADHD

The internet and social media are ubiquitous. An estimated 6.64 billion people use smartphones – roughly 83% of the world’s population! While you can’t entirely dismiss the fact that these devices are incredibly useful and have the potential to complement a student’s learning in unprecedented ways, the fact remains that they are more often than not, major distractions… and this is only more apparent for students with ADHD.


While in a classroom setting, a teacher has the ability to prohibit phones and corral their student’s attention with engaging lesson plans and engrossing activities. If they know that one of their students has been diagnosed with ADHD, they can make the additional effort to include them a little more purposefully and take the extra time to accommodate their specific needs.


Once that final bell rings and kids pour out of the classroom, however, it is up to students to manage the dreaded reality that is homework! An unavoidable question that students diagnosed with ADHD and their parents need to honestly ask themselves is: “How To Focus On Homework with ADHD?”

How To Do Homework With ADHD


The most common symptom of ADHD, and the major topic of today’s article, is the inability to stay focused. Most assignments require linear, step-by-step planning to complete and if a student with ADHD is distracted or disorganized in thought and unable to stay on task to follow those steps, they’ll find themselves frustrated and missing important assignments or studying opportunities. ADHD and homework are challenging. But that does not mean that there aren’t steps you and your kid can take to set them up for success. 

ADHD Homework Strategies


Like with most challenges, the path to overcoming them starts with a simple plan. It is helpful to sit down with your child over the weekend before the start of a busy school week and formulate a plan for the week – preferably with them participating in the decision-making.

ADHD Homework Tips:


  • Set up a homework station. Designate a specific area in the house that is associated with getting stuff done. 
  • Dispose of Distractions: Your designated homework station should be free of anything that might catch your eye (phones, TV, pets, gaming systems, etc).  Talk about how these are real – even for adults.  Each time they resist the temptation to follow that distraction, they are building focus and self-control. 
  • Organize your time. If you are going to have to spend 2 hours doing homework, break the time up into chunks. 30 minutes of work followed by 15 minutes of a break, etc. A timer can be helpful.  It also helps students build awareness of time as many students with ADHD struggle with time blindness. 
  • Medication awareness: If your child is prescribed an ADHD medication, be purposeful about when to administer it so that it can fall in line with homework and study time. If a medication wears off toward the end of the day, discussing how your student could use time during the school day to complete assignments can be beneficial. 
  • Weekly check in’s; Know what your child’s assignments are going to be for a specific week and ensure that these are being completed and handed in on time.  This is the accountability loop and builds awareness for students as to whether their efforts are working.  


How To Get Homework Done with ADHD: Executive Functioning


At Effective Students we believe that most academic problems learners experience in school stem from deficits in executive functioning—this is true for both ADHD learners and non-ADHD learners. Strong executive functioning skills like planning, organizing materials, and sustained attention are crucial in the context of completing homework assignments. 


Our Effective Students Method addresses those deficits in executive functioning with individualized curriculums and private coaching designed with the learner’s specific needs in mind. With the right kind of program and dedicated persistence, ADHD and homework no longer have to pose a threat to your child’s learning goals and performance in school.


Is our Executive Functioning Curriculum and Coaching right for you and your child? Schedule a 15-minute consult here to learn more!


© 2023 Effective Students by W3 Connections Inc.