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!


executive functioning curriculum

Why is an Executive Functioning Curriculum Important?

As a parent or educator, a question most commonly at the forefront of thought is: How do we prepare our children for independence in a complex and dynamic world? In every academic career, students will inevitably face challenges and seemingly endless hurdles.–How can students be best prepared to successfully respond? best be prepared to successfully respond? An executive function curriculum is the best resource. 


Parents and teachers alike can only do so much as the proverbial “bowling alley bumpers” before kids have to face the consequences of throwing a gutter ball. However, if you can bear with me while I use another bowling metaphor, we as educators and parents can instill the groundwork needed for kids to throw strikes in both their academic and personal endeavors. But this takes the right kind of program, consistency, and resolute discipline to build the skills needed for success.


At Effective Students, we believe that there exists a universal foundation upon which all students can build. An executive functioning curriculum, as Effective Students provides, is the groundwork for that foundation. 


Executive Functioning Curriculum: What You Should Know


We trust that with proper executive functioning skills and the flexible thinking that comes with it, a well-adjusted and creative student is destined to be in the making. Executive functioning is a specific and related set of skills involved in conscious problem-solving and self-directed, controlled behavior. In other words, it is our ability to evaluate resources, make reliable plans and follow through. Having strong executive functioning skills is the antidote to the feeling of being overwhelmed. overwhelmed, students are prone to lose focus and become susceptible to anxiety and depression.  When this occurs, students can and often do assume a self-defeating attitude. They might see others around them succeeding and inevitably feel insecure, often unsure how to ask for help, resigned in their attempts to complete assignments to the best of their ability. The solution to this student’s problem can begin with something as simple as rearranging their materials and coaching them through some basic organizational techniques. With this first step, students begin to see things from different angles, encouraging the skill that is to think flexibly and incentivizing them to continue to learn more!


Another skill an evidence-based executive functioning curriculum should emphasize is flexible thinking. To have cognitive flexibility is to have the capacity to think about things in multiple ways and create various solutions to the same problem. Students will encounter last-minute changes to their routine which, without flexible thinking, can bring overwhelming feelings to the surface. For this reason, it is crucial children receive the proper teaching that instills flexibility and the ability to pivot quickly in the face of these hurdles. 

The Effective Students Method is an evidence-based executive functioning curriculum with specific lessons that can help students succeed by building their executive functioning skills in a step-by-step manner. We focus on creating awareness, getting kids organized, coaching them to manage their time, and building study skills so that they not only recall what they’ve learned but retain it for future application. 


Why Choose Effective Students for Executive Functioning Curriculum


Effective Students provides the best executive functioning curriculum for tracking students’ progress and provides measurable feedback to help them align activities to their current demands.  With well-constructed executive functioning skills, students are equipped to respond to academic challenges in a strategic and successful way, enabling them to overcome roadblocks, and building confidence and competence to enter the adult world successfully.  


Interested in learning more about our evidence-based executive functioning curriculum? Get in touch with us today!

how to teach flexible thinking

Teaching Kids to Use Flexible Thinking

Take a look at this image – what do you see? 


If you’re perceiving the profile of a young woman wearing a fancy fur coat you’re right. On the other hand, if you’re seeing a somber old woman staring off into the distance, you’re also correct! If you’re able to see both, pat yourself on the back – you’re demonstrating the ability to model flexible thinking, a critical skill under the umbrella of executive functioning. 


This famous illustration, named “My Wife and Mother-In-Law”, is a fantastic visual example of what’s referred to as ‘flexible thinking’ in the world of executive functioning. In other words, flexible thinking is the ability to see many sides of a situation. 

Flexible Thinking For Kids: An Essential Skill

Not only is flexible thinking pretty handy when appraising an optical illusion – it’s downright essential for today’s students to succeed academically. Students will inevitably encounter all sorts of flexible thinking scenarios throughout their academic careers and having cognitive flexibility gives the student an advantage. Like with most things in life, plans are never set in stone and the need to adapt becomes unavoidable. Sometimes we’re paired with unhelpful partners for a really important project, other times a pop quiz might pop out of nowhere! Anticipating how to creatively confront and be prepared for the countless challenges that are destined to be in the way is an indispensable skill to start practicing and mastering in school…the carryover into the real world is indisputable. 


If a learner is “set in their ways”, and unable to readjust their perspective when tackling a problem, they will find themselves feeling frustrated. A characteristic of rigid thinking, or “stuck” thinking as it is also known, is the inability to modify approaches to solving a problem. Unfortunately, another common trait held by inflexible thinkers is that they avoid asking for help. As we all know, feelings of embarrassment or pride are often associated with making yourself vulnerable and admitting that you don’t know something. However, if we’re thinking in line with this article, the act of asking for help is one of the most basic ways that a student, parent, or teacher can begin to exercise their flexible thinking muscles. 


It commonly starts with the organization—a student cannot have the luxury to think flexibly when they do not have that most basic element of executive functioning under control. Either there are too many binders, not enough notebooks, a lack of dividers to separate course material, etc… There is not a one size fits all approach so it’s important to sit down with the student and start asking questions and experimenting with options that could work best for them. This new way of looking at things gets the flexible thinking juices flowing and sets the foundation for more leaps toward being a master of executive functioning.

Flexible Thinking Activities

The Effective Student’s Executive Functioning Curriculum delivers essential executive function lessons which include flexible thinking lessons. Executive functioning allows us to organize our thoughts and arrange our materials and time efficiently in order to execute a plan. Executive functioning is determined by three major functions: working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. With the Effective Student’s Curriculum and our highly trained executive functioning coaches, we are able to provide support and model the flexible thinking behavior that’s needed from the ground up. We provide positive feedback for students’ approximations towards new and improved study and work behaviors. Eventually, the reinforcement comes in the form of improved grades and that feeling that they’re retaining and applying the things being taught. 


Are you interested in learning more about Effective Student’s Executive Functioning Curriculum? Reach out to us today to find what is best suited for you! 

What to Expect From a Study Strategies class

Parents are often relieved when schools offer Study Strategies classes during the school day.  This time can be exceptionally helpful especially when students have after-school activities, travel to/from school is time-consuming or there is stress between the parent and student when discussing academics.  But how do educators teach study skill strategies and what exactly is being taught in any study strategies class?  

An Inconvenient Truth About Study Strategies

The grim reality is that students are rarely taught how to study.  When polled, 73% of students in our practice have shared they were really never taught how to study and certainly not how to study effectively.  When a group of private school teachers in 4-6th grades were polled, 67% believed it was the previous grade level’s responsibility to teach students how to study.  Can you imagine going to work on a daily basis without having been taught how to do your job?  Without educators providing strategies to study effectively, students lack the tools they need to succeed. Is it any surprise students are turned off of academics when faced with such challenges?

Study Strategies: The Ever-Important Details

If your student is recommended for a Study Strategies class or Tools class, what should you expect from that class and what questions might you want to ask, especially if you’re paying for the class or your student is receiving special education services?  Here are some things to consider:    

  • How will I know if my student is making progress?  If a teacher says, “We are working on it” that is not the answer.  Countless parents reflect that their student has made an A in the Strategies class but their grades in content classes have not improved.  The Effective Student Curriculum provides a grading rubric with relevant academic management skills so students understand what it takes to be successful.  
  • How is my student being evaluated and assessed?  Students are assessed quarterly in content classes and annually against National and State standards.  Why should it be any different for Study Strategies classes?  If a teacher or administrator cannot be specific with this information, that is a red flag. The Effective Student Curriculum contains grading rubrics and standards of performance for the 5 critical units of academic management skills.  For skills to develop, they have to be measured.  
  • How do you meet with my student to determine if he/she is applying what they’re learning in your class?  This is the accountability loop and it is more than an athletic coach yelling at your student to ‘get your work done’.  This intervention is not specific to a student’s needs, and may raise anxiety levels which immediately reduces the executive functioning abilities of the frontal lobe. Metacognitive exercises are critical components as they serve as the  foundation of a healthy dialogue of awareness, feedback and adjustments. 
  • Is there a curriculum that is being used?  This is probably the most critical question to ask.  An administrator’s response that Coach X “gets boys” or Ms. Y “has taught Strategies forever” does not mean your student will learn skills they can apply. While educators want students to succeed, a framework of targeted skills (how to study – how to manage time), measurable outcomes (thinking associated with making a self-directed plan) and application to real life (grades in other classes) are critical and require measurement and generalization.  Academic Management skills are measurable just like learning content in Math or English.  The Effective Student Curriculum provides this framework and enlists parents, students and educators to collaborate for a common goal.  

The Effective Student Curriculum: Providing Modern Strategies to Study Effectively

The good news is schools understand the need for students to have the time to complete work due to busy schedules and there are educators that want to help students develop study skills.  To make sure it’s a good use of your student’s time and your resources, asking some important questions can help your student see measurable outcomes.  

What’s included in the Effective Student Curriculum? 

  • Online course training 11 hours of training in Executive functioning and how to teach
  • Comprehensive Teacher’s manual 
  • Pacing guides (Content Classes & Study Strategies Classes) 
  • Grading rubrics
  • Online grading, progress monitoring, and reporting
  • Mini lessons with hooks for classroom instruction 
  • Instructional videos for use in the classroom
  • Slide presentations that can be used for teacher led direct instruction
  • Printable workbook for students 
  • Printable handouts for parents to match pacing and lessons
  • Optimal skills by grade level
  • Certification process in The Effective Student™ Method
  • Community support through semi-monthly webinars


Want to learn more or interested in your PTA sponsoring a teacher? 

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How Does ADHD Affect College Students?

As a young student with ADHD, the home setting is a crucial environment for learning and succeeding in school. The structure and support that parents, siblings, and tutors can provide for these learners is crucial in their development and level of achievement in academics. A warm and supportive home fosters the discipline needed for the executive functioning that is necessary to plan, focus attention, and organize multiple tasks—all essential skill sets required in any academic setting.


It is a harmful misconception that ADHD college students, as a result of being accepted into college, no longer need support to succeed in their coursework. Unfortunately, the opposite is often reported. They can feel overwhelmed, that home setting they relied on has become a crutch kicked out from under them. As with most college experiences, the students move away from the home and are expected to independently manage their assignments while simultaneously confronting a variety of distractions that come from the demands of new social situations. College for students with ADHD for this reason can lead to unfavorable outcomes. Distractions multiply and with it the student’s performance and overall executive functioning skills take a hit.


According to the American College Health Association, reported cases for ADHD in college students are on the rise in the last 20 years—from 2 percent of the student body to 11.6 percent in 2020. That comes out to roughly 1 in 9 students who will be at significant risk for mood and anxiety disorders associated with poor academic performance, an imbalanced social life, and the potential of dropping out before receiving a degree.


Although the home setting as a tool to help students with ADHD get back on track is often not an option, this does not mean that help is not available. Effective Students offers workshops and personalized academic coaching programs for college students that target ways to improve executive functioning and time management. With these programs, college students with ADHD have the option to take online courses or work alongside an academic coach to devise the blueprints needed to succeed in college. 


The steps to ridding feelings of overwhelming and overbearing workloads and distractions starts with a simple plan. Our online workshops and academic coaches will channel the student’s energy and focus it on developing the steps needed to organize and manage their college workload. We empower students with accountability and metrics to measure their progress throughout the semester.

The goal of many families is to see their children off to college, a rite of passage that yields the coveted diploma that can open high-level career doors to young adults entering the workforce. Being impacted by the negative symptoms of ADHD in college should not be a deciding factor in a student’s success rate. With the right resources offered by Effective Students in the form of online workshops and academic coaches, someone with ADHD can learn to master the art of organization and time management and become the accomplished individual they were always meant to be.

what is a growth mindset?

What is a Growth Mindset?

Parents and students may have heard the term “growth mindset” from their school counselors or seen it printed in an academic handout. Naturally, some of you may be asking why it matters and what it has to do with learning academics. The concept of a growth mindset was first introduced by renowned Stanford psychologist, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. and she writes about it in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The philosophy is a person’s mindset or belief about themselves determines their level of success across all areas of their lives, academics, at work, sports, and the arts.


In defining a growth mindset, Dweck (2015) states, “people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”


At Effective Students, our academic coaching is designed to instill grit, address learning differences, teach emotional regulation, and improve executive functioning – these are important areas with respect to developing a growth mindset for kids. Take a look at the following examples of growth mindset below. 

The Relationship Between Growth Mindset & Grit


A growth mindset and grit walk together like identical twins, sometimes it’s hard to distinguish one from the other. As you may recall, grit is the ability to persevere when things become difficult. A growth mindset is similar but maybe the firstborn twin, as the mindset comes first and the grit is shown and built by adversity. 

How Growth Mindset Impacts Learning Differences


Students with learning differences like ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and others, understand at their core that learning for them is difficult. With researched-based instruction and the right support, students learn to apply specific strategies to find success. The students who succeed in the long term and have the best opportunities for success believe that they can – in other words, they have a growth mindset. When students with learning differences persevere to tackle an academic demand, they develop the grit to succeed and realize they can overcome such challenges. 

Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset


Conversely, a fixed mindset is when a person believes that their intelligence or capabilities are fixed and cannot be developed. Parents may have heard this from their students and it can sound like this, “I’m just not good at math”, “Reading is not my thing”, or “I’m just disorganized”. These are examples of a fixed mindset. What do you think are the feelings behind these beliefs and how did they happen? Experience is a great teacher, both positively and negatively. But the good news is that mindsets can be changed. 

How Growth Mindset Affects Emotional Regulation


Emotional regulation or control is one of many executive functions and we define it as the emotional response to a situation. Emotional control is responding to information in proportion. For example, a big problem necessitates a big response – whereas a little problem necessitates a little response. Even better – a big problem necessitates a controlled response


Adolescence is full of examples of teens being emotionally irregular. Scroll through social media and you’ll find parents lamenting about it. Young adults experience the full spectrum of emotions as they start to discover who they are – one day they’re happy one day, and the next day they’re grumpy. Promoting a growth mindset for students during this time is a powerful way for teens to shape their experiences to learn from them. They are bound to make mistakes and if framed in a healthy way, failure can be useful. 


If you’re a fan of Sarah Blakely, you may recall a story of her father asking her nightly where she had failed that day and what she learned from it. What a powerful example of a growth mindset! If you don’t know Sarah Blakely, look her up! She’s one of my idols!


If a young person has a fixed mindset, they may interpret their choices as defining them and their future. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad my teen years are over! 

The Relationship Between Growth Mindset and Executive Functions


The relationship here can best be described as synergistic. Just as executive functioning skills can be built, so can a growth mindset and they are almost interdependent. They involve the frontal lobe, the brain which controls emotions, problem-solving, planning, and prioritizing. Here is an image that may help you visualize this process in detail: 

frontal lobe visualization

The Absence of a Growth Mindset for Students 


So, what happens when students do not have a growth mindset? Or if they have a strong reaction to failure? Are they afraid of how their parents react? Embarrassed to let their peers know? Instead of these responses, it’s more constructive to consider what would happen if they became curious about what went wrong – that’s the foundation for developing a growth mindset for kids.   


Students can learn to make changes to their preparation or engagement when they have a safe place to reflect on what happened and think through alternative responses. This exercise creates: 


  • Self-awareness
  • Self-governance
  • Metacognition
  • Grit building


As we say, awareness is the beginning of learning

How to Develop a Growth Mindset with Academic Coaching


If your student is struggling to develop a growth mindset, grit, or resilience or even struggles with a learning difference like ADHD or dyslexia, Effective Students offers tailored academic coaching to help. Just as athletic coaches help players improve their skills in a specific sport, academic coaches do the same, just in the education space. 


Encouragement? Yes.

Tips and tricks? Yes.

Training on skills? Yes.


In light of the learning loss and emotional responses to the pandemic, getting help is important. If we as parents didn’t already know this, “A new study from Stanford Medical School found that around the age of 13, children no longer find their mothers’ voices “uniquely rewarding. but that is a topic for another day. Just as your kids are learning to persevere when things are tough and become confident they can get better, we can do the same as adults. And you’ve done just that – by learning about a growth mindset. Well done!



Boston Public Schools


Mindset Health


Connections In Mind


Social Emotional Learning or Academic Management? 

Executive Functioning Skills

Social Emotional Learning or Academic Management?

Executive functions are a broad set of skills that occur in the frontal lobe of the brain and take nearly all of adolescence to develop. Children, teens and young adults develop at different rates so you may observe a child appear mature in one area, only to struggle in another.  The list of executive functioning skills is diverse but can be categorized into two primary groups, Social & Emotional Learning (SEL skills) and Academic Management Skills.  When you consider what your student needs, you may want to ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my child struggle with response inhibition, emotional control, perspective taking and flexibility.  If so, you might be interested in the social emotional components of executive functioning.
  • Does my child struggle with sustained attention, task initiation, planning & prioritizing, organization, time management, goal directed persistence, metacognition or working memory? If so, you may be interested in the academic management skills of executive functioning.

Summer is a great time to work on these skills. To help your student build their executive functioning muscles this summer, see the list of offerings below.  Parenting is not for the feint of heart but rest assured, with the right support, we can help you through it!

Time is a Finite Resource

Time Management

Why measuring matters!

Frequently, students have been told that they need to boost their time management skills, a common phrase they have heard, but one that can be hard to understand how to improve. Defining time in a way they can comprehend empowers students to manage their tasks for improved completion. A clear and workable time management definition is a great starting point for students who struggle with increasingly demanding schedules. When students are aware of their time and tasks, their decision-making improves, as does their capacity to prioritize. 


What are the benefits of time management?  Students who feel more in control which in turn, reduces anxiety.  The less anxiety a student feels, the more capable they are to follow through.


How to Improve Time Management? Why do students need a picture to plan?

  1. Students first need to see how they’re currently spending their time and evaluate if it’s adequate.
  2. Brainstorming activities and placing them in a specific time on the calendar allows them to ‘see’ commitments in one place. This process can identify potential conflicts which will expose choices when students can begin prioritizing and problem-solving.
  3. Students cannot prioritize or solve what they cannot see.
  4. Students who learn to build their week ahead of time using effective and proven time management tips have an easier time in college (and eventually the workforce) making decisions about how they spend their time.


What is necessary to learn Time Management Techniques?

  1. Awareness of where one’s time is being spent currently.
  2. Visual Support (calendar) that combines time and tasks in one place so students can identify if there is a conflict – a picture is worth a thousand words.
  3. Designated time to look ahead to plan accordingly.
  4. Practice looking ahead and planning.


Why is Time Management Important?

Just because students think ahead doesn’t always mean they can ‘see’ problems and make decisions to successfully solve them. Sometimes they need a picture to talk it through so the problem becomes obvious. Students cannot prioritize what they cannot see. Having a strong foundation of time management strategies provides them with a lense that will reduce anxiety, eliminate feelings of helplessness from expanding workloads, and ultimately set them up for a bright future. Awareness is the beginning of learning. Awareness is the beginning of learning.

Interested in learning more?

Time Management Lessons you can complete                                                                    Summer training for educators.

Self Care for Kids

Filling the Tank

When asked how to improve academic performance, students often repeat what they have been told: “study more” or “study harder.” What is equally important is to take the time to decompress, reset and recenter themselves. Self-care is often discussed in reference to adults, but what does self-care look like for kids?  The recent rise in mental health issues in children and teens over the last two years is startling. Just as important as a rigorous work ethic, self-care is critical to stave off anxiety, exhaustion, and depression. 

What exactly is self-care?

The capacity to get work done well is like a fuel tank. It is filled and emptied. When empty, the quality and quantity of work decrease. When we’re running out of steam, we mean we have depleted our emotional or time-based reserves. It’s imperative to manage the fuel in our tank and to remember to take the time to refill it. Teaching students to become more self aware and regulate their fuel tank becomes more important when they are in high-stress, demanding situations where their tank may deplete faster. Learning about margin (emotional and time), evaluating their own margin, and learning the value of how to build it for themselves is crucial. How much fuel reserves should be stored for emergencies? How much time and emotional energy is currently saved up if it’s needed last-minute?


How do we strive for balance, since we’re multifaceted human beings? We’re more than parents, teachers, and students. We have different needs and things that fuel our tank. Each of our unique parts deserves attentive care to help make us better at being “us.” We must get in touch with what helps us refuel and be courageous enough to set aside time and indulge in these activities. When our tanks are full, we are balanced. And when we’re balanced, we accomplish more.

While adults may be more apt to recognize their individual need to go on vacation and take a break from work, children may not be as in touch with this or be able to communicate it as easily. Typically, the child who asks for support in the least pleasant way is the one who needs the most help. 

As parents and teachers, how do we convey the importance of self-care?  

  1. Model it – we can model self-care for our children and students. “I’m taking a mental health day” or a “mental health moment” (60 seconds of quiet breathing). 
  2. Talk about it directly to improve their understanding of self-care and what it may look like for them.
  3. Reflect on it periodically throughout the semester with reflective exercises.

For many people (adults and children) with ADHD, some of the best ways to fill their tank include getting outside, hiking, or doing engaging projects or sports. For others, it may be arts and crafts or building a puzzle or LEGO set. These kinds of activities help kids disconnect from the stress of life (and technology) and reconnect with themselves. A filled tank leads to better health and better outcomes. What fills your kid’s tank?

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executive function coaching cycle

How to Build Executive Function Skills: The Coaching Cycle Explained

Developing executive functioning skills is a process. When it comes to helping students build these essential skills, an academic coach makes all the difference. Each student is unique so personalizing the approach and relationship are foundational to success. An effective coach knows how and when to shift between teaching and coaching as they partner with the student fostering a growth mindset leading to academic independence. In the skill development process, students can demonstrate strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others on the journey to mastery. With a reliable partnership and pathway, students are enlisted to participate on their journey to success. 

executive function coaching cycle

What Makes an Academic Coach Effective?

Effective coaching relationships require three components: 

  • Reliability – Coaches demonstrate reliability when they consistently share the knowledge and practices to move the student to the next level. 
  • Relatability – Coaches exhibit relatability when they connect with students under an umbrella of trust. When a coach has experienced a similar situation to a student and is honest/real with their feedback, the student trusts them and their guidance. 
  • Resources – Coaches operate as resources when they can capably adapt to changing academic environments and select the appropriate resource at the right time to help the student. Effective coaches can quickly access their personal rolodex and furnish a lesson or solution at the opportune time. The resource can be within our outside of the immediate environment.

Goals of Academic Coaching

The ultimate goal in coaching is to help students achieve Academic Independence and reach their personal goals – this process is referred to as goal setting. Coaches help students become more self-aware and self-directed learners. Here are a few more images we are working on: 

pathway to academic independence

Lessons in Academic Coaching: Relationships Matter

Students, like adults, don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Students read people and make decisions about credibility quickly – especially middle and high schoolers. An effective coach must communicate, connect and consider the goals of the student so they feel ‘understood’. The earlier this occurs, the more apt the student is to follow the lead under the umbrella of the coaching relationship. 

Just the other day, a new student and parent arrived in my office. The student was clearly under duress and tensions were high. We had to connect and find value for the student in about 180 seconds, or he was going to be checked out for our full hour together. 

Ultimately, this situation provided the perfect opportunity to build the coaching relationship. To prevent the student from checking out and help them reframe their feelings, we began by earning their trust with three key steps: 

  1. Understanding – the tension between the student and the parent are not uncommon.
  2. Acknowledging the student’s perspective. In this situation, the student felt ‘stuck’, did not know how to resolve the problem so he was considering not participating.
  3. Relating – Offering information about personal experiences or those of other students in his situation then setting clear expectations on how coaching could move him to a place of Academic Independence. 

By addressing the conditions above, I had an early opportunity to begin demonstrating reliability, relatability, and share resources that could positively affect his coaching experience. We still have a road ahead to build his skills but we have passed the first hurdle of trust. Now we can move on to build his skills and help his parents let him practice developing independence. 

Every student (and adult) has a personal win. The sooner we find those wins, the faster a student will engage in solving the problems ahead with us. 

What does your student want out of education? 

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