Back to School, Executive Function

Getting Off to a Good Start

The first week of the school year can be a frantic time! Students have new routines to learn, new assignments to start working on, new relationships to build, and new skills to develop. Sometimes, once the initial excitement of returning to the classroom fades and the school work begins in earnest, kids start to feel overwhelmed and may need help managing the expectations being put on them.

Establishing effective routines and strategies for things like goal setting and time management can be crucial to helping your child feel secure and confident as they move forward. No matter what age your student is, there are skills you can teach them to build helpful habits, and the key to doing this effectively is to break things down into manageable chunks and then practice them consistently.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier

Try to help your child establish a clear and consistent routine for homework, checking their agenda, and organizing their learning and studying goals. For younger children, you can make a simple, laminated task chart that they can check off after each task is completed. For older students, you may need to offer verbal reminders or check in with them via text to help set up these routines. Have them use the calendar in their agenda, or create a simple reminder chart that they can post in the area where they do their homework. This chart can include things like school assignments, work schedules, extracurricular commitments, break times, family events, and activities with friends. Some families find it helpful to make a family calendar that gets posted in a central location. Putting everyone’s schedule and commitments in one place can go a long way in helping with accountability and organization.

Parents have busy schedules too, so keeping yourself organized may also need to be part of helping your student! Setting aside dedicated check-in times during the week will not only offer your child consistency, it will also help you keep track of what your child is up to, both academically and socially. Try to look at your student’s agenda every day and ask them about their goals and plans in school or with extracurriculars. Use their agenda to communicate with their classroom teacher and keep a pulse on what’s happening during school hours.

There are many useful apps that can help with organization, planning, and time management. Programs like Google Drive, Google Calendars, Dropbox, and the basic note-taking apps already installed on phones, tablets, or computers can all be excellent tools that your student can learn to use. Some apps include features like sharing files or collaborating on calendars, so you can see in real time what your child has going on and they can feel accountable to getting those things done. A quick internet search will yield hundreds of other app options; take time to look for reviews or get referrals from friends, colleagues, or family in order to find what will work best for you and your child.

If your child has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), it may identify specific needs and strategies being used in the classroom that can be carried over into your home. Part of the IEP process includes regular  check-ins throughout the school year to make adjustments or identify successes. Consider checking in with the IEP accomodations and goals more frequently, and reflecting on how your student seems to be doing. Asking your child questions about how they feel about their learning can also provide essential insight into their school experience and the work they are doing.

No matter what school your child is in, whether they are in kindergarten or grade 12, whether they have an IEP or not, what they do at home has a significant impact on how they perform at school. Taking an active role in helping your child develop good study and organizational habits will be setting them up for greater success in school and in life. So break things down into small parts; create a toolbox of helpful strategies and skills for your child to draw upon, be organized, be communicative, and make sure that your student feels supported as they continue their learning journey.

Access Learning has tutors who can help with things like time management, goal setting, organization, and other executive function skills. Contact us here for details!

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