Students Who Benefit from Some Extra Support:
Executive functioning skills are a very broad range of skills and abilities, and continue to develop throughout the lifespan. It is exceedingly rare for any individual to excel in all areas of executive functioning skills, and even for adults, we can typically identify one or more executive functioning skills that could be improved. Typically, students will also demonstrate some executive functioning strengths and some executive functioning skill deficits. When teachers note an executive functioning skill weakness in a student, they work to explicitly promote and monitor development in that skill with the student. At times, these executive functioning weaknesses considerably impact a student’s ability to be successful in their classroom and with their peers, and for these students, additional support in the area of executive functioning becomes necessary.
At Assumption-St. Bridget School, we typically use one or more of the following options to provide opportunities for students to have access to additional support in executive functioning:
- Completion of individual Goal Books, where students are receiving daily feedback from teachers on executive functioning skills;
- Individual or small-group meetings with our School Psychologist and Counselor;
- Check-In/Check Out (CICO) Program; and
- Reinventing Achievement & Development (RAD) Program.
Students Who Benefit from Some Extra Enrichment:
For students who are currently demonstrating solid executive functioning skills, this area will still need to be nurtured and promoted: a 2nd grader with excellent 2nd-grade level executive skills will still require much growth and development in these skills to be a successful 4th grader. For that reason, these students continue to be enriched in our continuous instruction and promotion of these skills in the classroom. In addition, teachers and parents may use the following strategies to promote enrichment in executive functioning for these students:
- Additional responsibilities at school (i.e. classroom jobs) and home (i.e. chores);
- Modified homework and project expectations (i.e. requiring more advanced work);
- Extracurriculars (i.e. clubs, sports, arts);
- Participation in band or choir;
- Plenty of opportunities for free play with a variety of sensory materials;
- Encourage creative storytelling as a family; and
- Establish more advanced routines at home and encourage independence (i.e. getting ready for bed, getting dressed in the morning, making dinner).
For our students who benefit from enrichment, we often see significant benefit from things that happen outside of the classroom, like learning a new language, karate, dance, or a musical instrument. These skills challenge executive functioning in a new and different way, and serve students in enriching their application of their skills to new and complex situations.
In addition, during the 2018-2019 academic year, all of our teachers and classroom aids are participating in a year-long professional development opportunity to improve their ability to work with students on executive functioning skills with Beth Peterson, a local expert and executive functioning coach. During this pilot year, teachers had the opportunity to work as an Executive Functioning Coach, and invite one or two students to work with individually on executive functioning skills. For these selected students, their Executive Functioning Coach meets with them regularly to identify executive functioning strengths and weaknesses, set an intervention plan in place for selected executive functioning skills, routinely monitor the student’s progress on that skill, and provide feedback for continued improvement. Our teachers are enjoying learning more about coaching students on their executive functioning skills, and look forward to using this expertise in both their classrooms and in work with individual students. After this pilot year of training, we look forward to offering more Tier 2 support for students in executive functioning coaching. For more information, you can check out this Coaching Students with Executive Skill Deficits, and Smart but Scattered, which are two of the many resources our teachers are using for improving their skill set.