The holidays are here! The travel, the meals, the stress, the fun – every part of the holiday season that pulls us from our typical daily schedule. However, straying from our normal routines does not have to mean straying away from structure all together, nor does it have to mean pausing our practice of executive functioning skills. A surefire way to incorporate executive functioning skills can be in one of the most high-trafficked rooms in the house over the holiday season: the kitchen.
Despite the fact that our knowledge of the ways in which memory works is still in its infancy, one of the most effective techniques for memorizing material was invented thousands of years ago by ancient Greek and Roman thinkers: method of loci, or memory palaces. This relatively simple technique utilizes the powerful spatial and visual memory all humans possess but often struggle to take advantage of. By anchoring the information to be learned to a specific visual-spatial image, learners can retrieve information from their memory much more effectively. This technique is particularly effective for memorizing information where the order is important because it allows a logical progression through the images, but it can be modified to accommodate a wide variety of information.
Asking for help can feel extremely intimidating for many students. They may feel inadequate compared to their classmates, or they may not even know what to say to their teacher. It is important for students to understand that asking for help is a sign of strength and shows their support team that they are serious about learning. Moreover, self-advocacy is a crucial skill not only for school, but for post-school life as well.
This past year and a half has been unique, to say the least. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly altered our daily lives, and with a new school year already underway, it can be distressing to manage the constant unknowns. Will schools remain open all year? Will students be safe? Will children readjust to a normal school day or be prepared to adjust to a shift to virtual learning? Attempting to answer these questions can increase anxiety and diminish students’ enjoyment of school. However, one of the key things to help students of all ages navigate these uncertainties is flexibility.
Many students, especially those with ADHD and executive functioning disorder, often have a hard time getting their day started. At times, this can be a result of their internal voice giving them a huge to-do list as soon as they wake up. Faced with an enormous number of options, these children tend to move from one task to the next without accomplishing one or the other, frequently growing distracted and discouraged. Watching from the outside, it is easy to boil this tendency down to a lack of desire, laziness, or even apathy. However, in many cases, this challenge stems from poor executive functioning skills and a lack of routine. When presented with multiple choices, such as eating breakfast, getting dressed, or packing a lunchbox first thing in the morning, children can easily feel overloaded with the demands of making decisions. When they become overwhelmed, their emotional brain takes over and can cause them to start a task but not finish it because they are unsure how to accomplish it. Routines are designed to help individuals prioritize tasks and apply more structure to their day.
Strategies to Build Momentum, Visualize Time, and Overcome Procrastination in Everyday Life
Everyone has expectations that they need to meet in their personal life, at work, or at school. Sometimes, though, these can be challenging to meet. Some of us, especially those with ADHD, may have difficulties managing and tracking time, which can lead to an inefficient work schedule. This poor perception of time passing is known as “time blindness.” Procrastination and low motivation can also interfere with our ability to achieve our goals. Experts believe that there are many reasons why we procrastinate, including a lack of self-efficacy, impulsivity, perfectionistic tendencies, and more. Due to this variability, there is no single solution to time blindness and it must be addressed on an individualized basis. Although losing track of time and putting things off happen to most of us from time to time, chronic issues can have serious negative repercussions on our lives. At Thinking Organized, we recognize that developing effective strategies to counter these difficulties can have positive, life-changing consequences. Here are several tips to start difficult tasks and stay on track.
Although students want their summer to be a well-deserved break, it is important to keep the academic ball rolling throughout these carefree months. While summer reading may seem optional, it is actually an essential tool to prevent the “summer slide,” or the loss of academic skills that occurs while school is out of session. In fact, the effects of the summer slide are cumulative. Researchers estimate that by the time a struggling reader reaches middle school, summer reading loss has accumulated to a two-year lag in reading achievement. Particularly for students who struggle with comprehension, these summer months are imperative to keep up with the reading skills they learned throughout the year.
Problem solving is one of the most important skills for success in both academics and life, but it is a skill that few people understand. Many adults struggle to teach their children how to effectively approach a task from multiple angles, and schools often do not offer classes that teach students how to solve problems. Instead, students are supposed to build this skill organically through the many challenges they face while navigating their coursework. Yet the tests that determine so much of their academic futures, such as the SAT, ACT, LSAT, GRE, and countless others, all heavily emphasize problem solving. So, what can parents do to help their children build this essential life skill?
The COVID-19 pandemic drastically altered our lives. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the student population, who have engaged in virtual learning for almost a year. With the rollout of vaccines and increased public health measures, though, many students are preparing to return to the physical classroom. However, this shift comes with various changes to both home and school routines, as children and parents must adjust to this new situation after a year of developing and revising habits to make virtual learning go as smoothly as possible. Adapting to changes is challenging for everyone, but particularly so for elementary school students with executive functioning weaknesses, as they often find it difficult to manage new transitions. Some routines will need to be re-established, like packing their backpack, while others involve new elements, like remembering their face mask and hand sanitizer. While we expect the adjustment to take time, you can support your elementary school child’s executive functioning skills by identifying new or difficult routines and providing opportunities for practice.
The end of the academic year is fast approaching, and many students are looking forward to a summer break filled with hours of gaming, socially-distant get-togethers, and more. This relaxation is needed now more than ever, as many students are wrapping up a challenging year of virtual or hybrid learning. However, while it is important that they recharge over the summer, it is just as crucial to keep up with academics to ensure they are prepared for the upcoming school year. Enrolling in one of Thinking Organized’s summer programs is a great way for students to keep their skills sharp without feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of more work. If your children ask why they should sign up for our summer programs, we have the answers for you!