In our center we have a number of middle school students with executive functioning difficulties like Emily child.
Another great resource is Gaskins & Pressley’s chapter on metacognition in Executive Function in Education, 2007.
So, how to help the unorganized middle school student who is  “not writing down assignments, not handing in reports, not giving notes to parents that need to be signed or not returning the signed note”?
That second part of the checklist included the items that needed to be taken out of his backpack and handed in once he got to school. And finally, the last part of the list was the before-bedtime checklist of things that needed to be in his backpack and ready to go to school the next morning. Now the most important part of the system is that the checklist needed to be signed by both the parents and teachers daily.
This is important: Set your child up for success by implementing a program that is broken down into steps that are achievable. If the goal is just to have the checklist list signed daily, it means the student doesn’t have to have everything in the backpack before they take it to get it signed. Children with executive functioning difficulties need to have tasks broken down into manageable parts.
We have seen so many children with this area of difficulty that we are currently developing a workbook that parents and children can use together to build the skills. Director K&M Center, helping students with learning differences achieve academic success.


Targeted Learning ProductsFor over 20 years The K & M Center has been guiding students' cognitive development by focusing on underlying learning skills.
Her daughter, Emily, was a strong student all through elementary school so she wasn’t prepared for Emily to fall behind on her work in middle school. One great resource is the book Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare. We needed to figure out something that will make him want to complete the checklist that we were going to give him. The first part of the list included the items that needed to be in his backpack and taken to school each morning. It is important to figure out what percent of the time your child is completing these tasks now. The parent and the teacher should reward the child for consistently presenting the checklist for their signature.
That is the goal (being able to break tasks into small achievable steps) for parents and teachers to set in order to help these children achieve. The important thing to remember is to discuss strategies to make using the checklist successful.  That is the Stop, Think, Plan, and Do mantra. So, you need to figure out what that will be for your child, something that you can give to him every week if he completes the checklists that are created for him. If your child is currently doing these things 50% of the time, make the goal that he complete the task 80% of the time to receive the reward.


Then the parent and the teacher, can gently remind the student to either write down assignments that are missing from the worksheet, turn in assignments that are missing, or add any materials to the backpack that should be there and aren’t.
Generally, students that are not organized tend to become overwhelmed by the prospect of the task ahead. Building executive functioning skills need to start with an external structure guided by a coach, who can be a parent or a professional, who helps them consistently review the steps needed and follow them, until the external structure becomes an internal monologue.
By teaching students how to look at a task and mentally, or physically by making a list, and breaking it down, you are teaching your child executive functioning skills. Think: Yes, I do, because I want to make sure everything I need from homework tonight gets home. I think the authors’ explanation of developmental trends and brain development is wonderful.
I sometimes tell parents they just need to help their children learn the mantra: “Stop, Think, Plan, Do, Check”. Most children with executive functioning issues go straight to DO without taking time to do the other four for steps.



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