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

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

Imagine That! Using Visualization to Improve Reading Comprehension

Have you ever seen a movie after reading the book and felt incongruence between the character on the screen and the one you had imagined? If so, take pride in your disappointment. It suggests that you have a strong ability to visualize, or create mental imagery as you read.

WHAT IS VISUALIZATION?
 
Visualization is a highly effective strategy to improve comprehension and retention of reading material. When your child learns to “see” the characters, setting, and actions within stories, they are more easily able to interpret and remember complex information. Through use of visualization, children become active in the reading process and can more effectively discuss and describe the text they’re reading.

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Erica MechlinskiImagine That! Using Visualization to Improve Reading Comprehension

Word Problems in Math

By Colette Hapi

For students with weaknesses in their executive functions, one of the hardest things about working through word problems in math is comprehending what exactly the problem is asking. Translating the words to numbers and equations can feel overwhelming, and the necessary steps that need to be taken often eludes these students, thereby rendering the task nearly impossible. However, the good news is that all hope is not lost. Even if your child is struggling to properly work through a word problem, there are steps that can be taken to facilitate the process. What follows is a list of steps that are meant to help your child decode word problems and figure out how to properly arrange the pieces of information that were provided into a viable formula. It is important to realize, though, that to really learn “how to do” word problems, a lot of practice is going to be required in order to master the skill.

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Erica MechlinskiWord Problems in Math

Reading Comprehension at Home

By Jennifer Sax 

Reading comprehension is a term we often hear teachers or other professionals use to talk about students’ understanding of what they read. But what exactly does that involve, and how can it be supported and improved?

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Erica MechlinskiReading Comprehension at Home

Learning by Touch: Tactile Learners

With over 7 billion humans walking on this Earth, it’s no surprise that each one of them has a unique way of learning and processing information. Some people learn best by listening to an oral lecture, while others grasp information when it’s presented in image form. But for some people, sitting still and being asked to retain information while remaining static can be difficult. These tactile or kinesthetic learners thrive when they are able to directly interact with the material they need to learn. By using their bodies, tactile learners absorb information in a hands-on way.

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Erica MechlinskiLearning by Touch: Tactile Learners

LEARNING AND LIMBIC

Executive functioning skills can be described as the ‘CEO’ of the brain. Just like an effective boss, executive skills are responsible for making decisions, planning, and managing information. Now imagine a boss who is feeling agitated, depressed, or enraged. In any of these situations, he will struggle to manage the demands of his job while his emotions are out of control, leading to unfinished tasks and a sense of frustration. In the same way, if a student has difficulty regulating emotions, his ability to perform executive functions will be compromised. This is especially true during adolescence, when brain development and hormonal changes cause emotions to heighten and fluctuate more dramatically. It is important to recognize that emotion and executive functions are not separate entities; in fact, they are intricately intertwined, especially when it comes to learning.

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Erica MechlinskiLEARNING AND LIMBIC

Executive Functioning Skills + New Year’s Resolution = Happy Child!

By Colette Leudeu Hapi

There is often a sense of excitement with the approach of a new year. This is the time to make resolutions about landing dream jobs, performing well in an academic semester, or taking better care of oneself. It is important to take advantage of such high levels of motivation because this is a perfect time to create realistic and manageable goals for the new year. For children with executive dysfunction, making New Year’s resolutions can empower them to change a behavior or develop a new skill while cultivating their ability to set and accomplish goals.
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Erica MechlinskiExecutive Functioning Skills + New Year’s Resolution = Happy Child!