It’s September and everyone is excited for a great school year! However, some parents might be dreading the routine. Nobody wants to be their child’s alarm clock in the morning, or always remind their teen to complete homework and chores. Let’s face it: the school year has just begun and your child may be struggling with some executive functioning skills. Here are some tips to help your teen get started on the right foot this year.
1. Help your teen get organized. How many times have you heard your child say, “I can never find my stuff!”? Instead of searching the house time and time again, you and your child should create a system to keep track of things that are important. You can help establish your teen’s organization skills by going through a checklist of where personal items and academic materials belong. You can work together to organize textbooks, electronics, notebooks, and folders. Consider purchasing a daily planner, folders, storage bins, or a bookcase to help keep everything in its place. Your teen can even make to-do lists on his or her phone (Unlike a paper list, they will never get lost!).
2. Encourage your child to improve his or her time management skills. It may be difficult for your child to manage his or her time with the demands of school, extra-curricular activities, and social life. You can help your child with time management skills by modeling good time management practices. If your child is struggling with getting up early for school, use an alarm clock and/or cell phone to set the alarm. Also, you can coach your child on how to allocate time for each activity and task. Come up with an estimate of about how long each task should take, so that your teen can keep track of time and make room for all of his or her activities.
3. Provide encouragement to get your teen started. If your child struggles with starting a project or task, he or she may become overwhelmed. Your teen may put off the task to do something more enjoyable—something that offers instant gratification. Encourage your child to begin a project by offering incentives and rewards. For example, you can tell your teen that once he or she finishes that big science project, he or she can pick the takeout restaurant for dinner tonight. Some other helpful incentives could be money, extra screen time, social outings, dessert, etc. If an assignment increases your child’s anxiety or stress, you can help by breaking it into smaller sections. Then, your teen can focus on completing each smaller task, one step at a time, without feeling overwhelmed.
4. Help your child plan and prioritize. As your child gets older, planning and prioritizing skills become even more important. These skills increase your teen’s productivity and time management. You can help by working with your teen to create a roadmap for their tasks or a step-by-step guide to meet their goals. If your child has several projects, exams and writing assignments due, you can coach them on planning what needs to be completed first. With practice and with time, your teen will learn to this on his or her own.
You know your son or daughter best—so affirm your child’s strengths and recognize areas where he or she could improve. By using these tips on executive functioning skills, you can help your child gain more confidence and reach greater academic achievement this school year!