Monthly Tips

Each month, a Thinking Organized tip is emailed to our growing list of educators, parents and students who want to improve their executive functioning skills.

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smortoMonthly Tips

Succeeding in the Second Half of the School Year

 
It’s no surprise that as the school year progresses, students start to lose motivation. With the lure of spring break and summer break so close, many students struggle to focus on their academics during the second half of the school year. For those with executive dysfunction, this disparity between their performance in the two halves of the year can be even more apparent. It’s important to help your children regain momentum so that they can finish the year on a strong note, and there are several actions you can take to help them find success.

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Erica MechlinskiSucceeding in the Second Half of the School Year

Executive Functioning Skills and Summer Fun

 
Although temperatures are near freezing in many parts of the country right now, the thought of summer camp is not far from the mind of many parents. Whether it’s a sports camp, an art camp, or a technology camp, students find themselves involved in fun activities on almost a daily basis.
While we’re not one to darken students’ days by reminding them that school isn’t far away, it is important for students to budget time in their schedules for tasks that target and develop their executive functioning skills over the summer.

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Erica MechlinskiExecutive Functioning Skills and Summer Fun

Understanding the Role of Math in School and Life

 
Although it’s referred to as the universal language, math is a subject that many shy away from under the guise of it being too difficult to comprehend. Unfortunately, once people meet an obstacle in their mathematical career, instead of finding a way to go through the roadblock, they resolve to abandon the subject as a whole and label it a “lost cause.” 
From that point on, many people stop trying to advance their mathematical endeavors and, consequently, halt the critical thinking skills that may have developed through their explorations of math.
However, since math is a subject that is present at every level of education, from elementary school through college, it is crucial that we introduce math to children as a subject that can be comprehended by all, not just a select few, and show them the different ways in which problems can be approached.

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Erica MechlinskiUnderstanding the Role of Math in School and Life

Goal-Setting for the New Year

 
As 2018 comes to a close, the holidays are just around the corner and there are many errands to complete before families get together and the festivities begin. In all of the commotion of the holiday season, it is important to sit down and reflect on the past year and set goals for 2019.
Whether is it dedicating oneself to a new nutrition program, completing a home-improvement project, or obtaining a promotion at work, each goal you set is important in your life. As adults, we often know the steps needed to achieve these goals. However, students may need more support in setting and reaching their own goals.
Here are a few tips to helping your children develop a roadmap to success for the new year.

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Erica MechlinskiGoal-Setting for the New Year

Using Executive Functioning Skills to Prepare for the Holidays

The holidays are a time of relaxation and family – and also a great time to work on executive functioning skills! From buying gifts to creating a guest list and preparing dinner to decorating the house, you must rely on the prefrontal cortex of your brain to help plan and execute most holiday festivities. Involving your children in these yearly tasks will help them recognize that executive functioning skills are present in every aspect of their lives.
So, round up the kids for a family meeting and try some of these tips to get them excited and ready for the holidays!

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Erica MechlinskiUsing Executive Functioning Skills to Prepare for the Holidays

Focused, Engaged, and Attentive: Note-taking at School

For students with executive dysfunction, taking notes in class often feels like a burdensome chore. Some students struggle with listening and taking notes at the same time. 
 
For others, they believe that they can remember everything that their teachers say, but when it comes time to take a test, they find it challenging to recall information they learned in class. 
 
Note-taking is a crucial element of executive functioning that strengthens a child’s ability to sustain attention to a task and utilize her working memory. It also helps children develop their ability to identify main ideas from supporting details and recognize the connection between concepts.

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Erica MechlinskiFocused, Engaged, and Attentive: Note-taking at School

Social Thinking: Helping Our Kids Become Better Social Communicators

For most of us, our ability to think socially develops naturally and feels intuitive. In fact, social thinking dominates our thought processes throughout the day. Thinking socially occurs when we send an email, read a work of fiction, wait in line at Starbucks, or move our grocery cart aside to accommodate another customer.
Quite naturally, we consider the context, surroundings, emotions, and intentions of others to determine our behavior and emotional responses. It is an incredibly complex process which most of us take for granted.
For kids with learning and attention issues, social thinking is far from natural. They might find it challenging to notice, understand, and act on emotions in an effective way. Underdeveloped social thinking skills can exacerbate challenges children are already facing. Think about your child’s daily life. She might study hard, but still get a poor grade. She might feel embarrassed about her learning issues and be afraid to ask for help.
Self-advocacy, flexible thinking, and healthy communication skills are rooted in social thinking. Teaching children about the presence of other people’s minds and social thoughts is important, especially for our kids with learning and attention challenges.

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Erica MechlinskiSocial Thinking: Helping Our Kids Become Better Social Communicators

Preparing for a Smooth School-Year Transition

We hope your summer vacation has been filled with sunshine, relaxation, friends and fun! There was no need to stress about homework or rush out the door to get to the bus stop. But now it is August, the school year is fast approaching, and we begin to think about transitioning to a day filled with work, academics, and extracurricular activities. Creating a smooth transition is possible with a little pre-school planning. Take the last one or two weeks of August to slowly merge the hustle and bustle of the upcoming school year with the relaxation of summer vacation, and the looming school year obligations will seem less overwhelming.

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Erica MechlinskiPreparing for a Smooth School-Year Transition

I Remember! Tips for Improving Working Memory

Picture the scene: It’s midnight. Your child is sitting at the kitchen table, frantically flipping through his textbook as he wills himself to remember pages and pages’ worth of information in preparation for tomorrow’s test. He looks up and says, “I can’t do this. It’s too much.” While this is an unfortunate scenario, it’s one that is all too common for students of all ages. Students often leave studying for the last minute, and by doing do, they don’t give themselves the proper amount of time to review information and secure it into memory. By attempting to cram information into their short-term memory, they are more liable to forget key details. However, if they learn how to strengthen their working memory and set aside time to review information, they are more apt to recall the necessary material at a later date.

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Erica MechlinskiI Remember! Tips for Improving Working Memory

Learning to Use Your Voice: The Importance of Self-Advocacy

For some students, there is nothing more frightening than admitting that they need help. Sometimes, students feel pressured at school, and seeking outside assistance may seem daunting. However, learning how to advocate for yourself is a crucial skill not only for school, but for the rest of your life. Other people can be fountains of knowledge and show us ways to better grasp information that was once confusing.

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Erica MechlinskiLearning to Use Your Voice: The Importance of Self-Advocacy