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Executive Functions 101- How to Get them Started!

Posted by Mollie Shaw on

Getting students to work independently is a wonderful goal.  But how do you get them to start working, especially if they can find lots of other things to do beforehand?  


First, as the parent, you set the atmosphere.  Your positive expectations will set up an environment of success for your student.  When you transition into your schoolwork time, be sure that each new day is a fresh slate with freedom for your student to choose well.  

Here are some tips: 

1. Ask organizational questions such as:  What materials do you need?  What subject is first?  What is the lesson over?  What page is that on?  Where is the assignment sheet?

2.  Next, have your student read the lesson to you and narrate it back..You will say things like:  "Read the directions and then tell me what you will do."  If they cannot tell you what they will do, then ask them to define the words in the instructions, or to explain the examples in the lesson in their own words.  You are able to understand the parts of the lesson that your student comprehends and the parts that he or she is just getting a grasp on, as well as those parts that are not understood yet. 

3.  Once your student has read you the directions and the lesson aloud, and has explained to you what he or she will do, then your response is: " Off you go!" Turn and walk away and use your body language to communicate absolute confidence that they are going to complete their assignment.  

4. After you guess that the student has had time to complete half or more of the lesson, check back.  See if they have used their self-regulation to work diligently.  If not, take the position that they didn't understand and make them repeat the steps of reading the whole lesson aloud to you, explaining it in their own words  and redoing the assignment.  This will support the kids that truly need more review and it creates a negative consequence for kids that are dawdling.  Now they must rework and rethink the entire lesson a second time.  Over time, this will become a deterrent to dawdling and prevents scolding and fussing over schoolwork.  Stay positive and don't forget to walk away when they are working well.  This trust is a reward and builds responsibility.  



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