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Thursday, March 29, 2012

10 Easy Steps to Accommodate Students with Executive Functioning Weaknesses

1.     Provide a consistent and structured environment:
a.     At home: Create a structured routine and try to schedule activities that are always on the same days and at the same times.  You can even schedule unstructured, free times.
b.     In school: All teachers should communicate and post homework assignments in the same way and at an expected time daily.  Home work should also be collected in a reliable, routine manner.  Finally, the classroom need to be managed in a consistent way with clear and concise expectations.
2.     Provide reminders:  Use smart phones, ipods, watches with alarms, and PDAs to provide auditory and visual reminders of important dates, activities, and things that need to be done.
3.     Use a large month or two month at a glance calendar to schedule events and post it in a high traffic location.  Review the calendar weekly and verbally highlight each event.  If new activities are added during the week, be sure to communicate these verbally and write them on the calendar in a different color so that they stand out.
4.     Weekly, schedule and organization time:
a.     At home: schedule an hour each week where all family members “get organized.”  Make it a fun time by playing music, having tasty snacks, and helping each other.
b.     At school:  schedule a time once a week where students have an allocated time to get their desks, backpacks, and lockers organized.  Try to make this fun by having contests and prizes for “the most organized,” “the tidiest backpack,”  “the best long-term planner,” “the neatest agenda”…  This too can be a time where teacher’s can play music or students can listen to their ipods.
5.     Praise and reward organization, planning and time management skills that are self initiated.
6.     Exhibit the behaviors you wish to see.  This means that you have to be organized, plan and manage your time too.  Set an example for your kids and students.  If you need help, hire an organization specialist for the family or classroom.
7.     Organize the environment so that there is a place for everything.  You can even label drawers, closets, and shelves if necessary.
8.     Stay calm and supportive when your child or student struggles with planning, time management and organization.  Make a time when the two of you can sit down and devise a plan of action.
9.     Avoid name calling.  Lazy, unmotivated, careless and other negative labels will not help the situation.  In fact, it can create an environment where the child/student feels helpless and it can also damage their self-esteem.
10. When your child or student is “mentally spent,” provide breaks, do an errand together, play a short game, or take a walk.

      If you would like to learn more about accommodating and empowering students with Executive Functioning Weaknesses, look at my recent publication, Planning, Time Management and Organization for Success.  The document comes on CD with many printable handouts that will assist students in the areas of reading, test taking, memory, planning, writing and more.  http://goodsensorylearning.com/Planning,_Time_Management_Organization.html
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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