In this Episode
Are you feeling the holiday crunch time?
Do you wish the kids could help out more, and not create more work for you?
You’re in for a treat with this week’s podcast guest, Sarah Ward. Sarah has over 25 years of experience in the treatment of executive dysfunction, and is an internationally recognized expert on Executive Function who received the Innovative Promising Practices Award from the national organization, CHADD.
You’ll learn at least 5 different ways to leverage your kids’ help while also developing their Executive Function. These strategies develop workability, a top 10 predictor of a student’s success in college.
In this week's episode, you'll learn:
- Real life scenarios to help your kids improve their visualization and task completion skills
- How to use holiday crafts to teach kids and teens how to plan and execute
- Help inflexible kids manage new experiences and unexpected changes
“There is a list of the top ten predictors of college success, like who makes it in college and who doesn't. Ironically, parents, there is not a single academic skill on there.”
- Sarah Ward
- https://www.efpractice.com/about-5-1 - Sara Ward's contact information
- Make Social Learning Stick by Elizabeth Sautter - Strategies on social executive regulation
- https://www.socialthinking.com/ - Top 10 indicators of college success
- A Guide to Executive Function - Developed by Harvard Center for Developing Child
- Executive Functioning Handbook by Jericho School District - Recommended strategies
- The Everything Parent's Guide to Children with Executive Functioning Disorder - Book recommendation
- At Wit's End - Chapter 11 Executive Function
- Take the Stone Out of the Shoe - Chapter 6 What Do Challenges with Executive Function Look Like?
Any tips to catch up on incomplete, missing, and not turned in assignments?
Tune into the Bonus Q&A where Sara Ward shares tips and many more resources for Executive Function.
Jill Stowell: Do you have a child or teen who gets ready to do homework only to realize they forgot to bring their book or paper home? How about this one, you say to your teen, “You need to get ready for school.” Your teen says, “Got it.” And the next thing you know she's sitting on her bed, scrolling through her phone with hair unbrushed and school materials still on her desk and not in her backpack. There's a simple explanation for this and it may not be what you think.
Today, we're going to explore working memory, planning and follow through with executive function expert Sara Ward. And here's a bonus, Sara's going to share some fun ways to use the holidays to improve executive function. This is LD Expert Live.
Welcome to the LD Expert Podcast, your place for answers and solutions for dyslexia, learning and attention challenges. I'm your host Jill Stowell, Founder of Stowell Learning Centers, and author of a brand new book, Take the Stone Out of the Shoe: A Must-Have Guide to Understanding, Supporting, and Correcting Dyslexia, Learning, and Attention Challenges. This book will help you understand why some bright children and teens have more difficulty than expected in school. It provides simple practical tools for supporting struggling students at home and in the classroom. Most importantly, it presents real solutions and the science behind them.
Our guest today is Sara Ward. Sara has over 25 years of experience in the treatment of executive dysfunction. Sara is an internationally recognized expert on executive function, and present seminars on the programs and strategies she has developed with her co-director Kristen Jacobsen. Their 360 Thinking Executive Function Program received the Innovative Promising Practices Award from the National Organization CHADD. Welcome, Sara.
Sara Ward: Thank you so much for having me back today. I'm just honored to be here and really looking forward to chatting all about cool tricks and strategies, and especially using the holidays to build executive function skills.
Jill Stowell: You know, I can't believe that we are already heading into the holidays. And I do want to talk about how parents can use this time of year to build executive function. But before we do that, let's look at some of the realities of this current school year and how our kids’ development in executive function has been impacted by the disruption of the last few years.
Sara Ward: It is a shock that it's been November because it's been such a different school year, and kids are coming in having not had a more typical kind of educational period of time. And so, I think one of the things that's so important to understand is that executive function really requires you to have strong visual forethought, where we're constantly planning into the future and rehearsing what we're going to do before we go do it.
So I always use my thought bubble but it's this idea of being able to visualize, for example, you might be listening now and thinking, as soon as I finish listening to this, I'm going to go into the kitchen, I'm going to take the hamburger out and let it defrost for dinner tonight. I'm going to walk the dog and then I need to send those emails. You are rehearsing what it is that you are going to look like.
Children learn this rehearsal skill in school. So for example, if you're at your desk and the teacher gives you a direction to gather your math manipulatives and a whiteboard and a pencil, you have to visualize moving through the classroom, I'm going to get my whiteboard, I'm going to get my math manipulatives and I'm going to get my pencil. And then you enter the classroom to gather those materials. Or, a high school student who has to transition down the hall up the stairs to their next class. Or, even for all of you, where at home you give a child a directive, get ready for school, and they have to use this mental imagery to pre-imagine their plan of moving through the house to gather those materials.
So the thing is, when we had the pandemic, lots of schools even when kids were in school, we had social and physical distancing, which meant we didn't want students sharing materials so kids were not going through the classroom and gathering materials, materials were being brought to them. We often did not have kids lining up and pre-experiencing that transition and then actually going in line and walking to music class, the music teacher came into the classroom. And our high schoolers certainly weren't transitioning through classes, many of them they were sort of multi tabbing and going from one tab to the next.
So what we're finding is, is that the very skill that really allows you to be successful with task execution in school, kids were not practicing. And as a result, we're seeing a huge delay in the development of executive function skills. And in fact, I was presenting with Jessica Minahan, who's an expert on anxiety, and we shared a really fascinating infographic that, for example, sixth graders, their last normal school year, was in third grade. Yeah, those of you that are teachers or have children in say, like that first grade, there's an infographic. They never had a normal school year, so they never even had an opportunity to be sort of learning those skills.
If you're a ninth grade teacher, imagine this, your high school except those kids coming in are the equivalent of a sixth grade student, who's just figuring out how to transition, just figuring out how to follow a rotating schedule. And they're beginning to learn this ability to sort of pre-imagine and follow a plan. So we're talking a pretty big three-year age gap and this isn't neurotypical children, you know, this isn't even in our students who have some diagnosed challenges with executive function skills. So it's a different year, and we have kids that are lagging in this skill, because they're not practicing in school. So hopefully, we'll be closing that gap.
Jill Stowell: I hadn't really thought about how long it's been since kids have had a normal school year. That's…
Sara Ward: Right.
Jill Stowell: Yeah, that's kind of mind-boggling. And definitely, I'm hearing from teachers and parents that there's a real increase in anxiety among students this year. And if you think about that gap, in incidental self-management learning that happens in a classroom, kids are probably feeling a little bit lost.
Sara Ward: They are feeling lost. And again, if you're a sixth grade teacher, the last typical year a child had was in third grade. So it's kind of like being a third grader, where you're trying to manage your materials, you're trying to complete things on time, you're trying to get your homework home and in your backpack, and then remember to return it in. That's just a developmental skill. And we have kids that are struggling. And matter of fact, Jessica said that the most current statistic is that 39% of kids in American education are experiencing anxiety. That's a…
Jill Stowell: Gosh.
Sara Ward: That's a pretty high number. And our speech and language, I've been talking with a number of schools that are doing preschool and first grade admissions, remember, those kids haven't even really had any even some cases, preschool experiences, but the majority of their learning has occurred from a teacher behind a mask. And we're seeing a big impact on speech and language.
So it's a different year. But I don't think it's all doom and gloom, I think we just need to be cognizant and aware of it, and really working towards providing some of those skills that they weren't naturally getting because of the physical social distancing, and/or masks.
Jill Stowell: Right. So as parents and teachers, we want to be even more intentional about building skills to support that self-management and independence. And you talked about nonverbal working memory as a key factor in planning as an executive function. Just kind of, incidentally, as you go through your day, how can we help our kids – how can we stimulate that for our kids?
Sara Ward: Terrific question. So nonverbal working memory, again, is this mental thought bubble of what something looks like. And we very typically do what's called a mental dress rehearsal, or we visualize. So for example, if I'm thinking about my day, and I say, “Oh, I need to get dressed today.” I'm going to be situationally aware of the situation I'm going to, whether maybe I'm going to be going to a business meeting, or maybe I'm going to be going into school. And I have to be situationally aware to think about the weather. “Oh, gee, it's really cold out today so I want to wear something warm.”
And with that in mind, that helps me create a mental image of OK, well, I see myself getting dressed, and I see myself wearing something warm and maybe even dressing in layers in case it gets really warm in school. And I create that image of what I'm going to look like. But not only do I imagine what I'm going to look like, I can also rehearse my movement of how I'm going to achieve that goal. So I can literally see myself going from downstairs, up the stairs into my bedroom, to the closet to grab the gray sweater and to the dresser to grab the black leggings that I want. And then maybe I'm going to wear those boots. So that the minute I get upstairs and I go to the closet, I immediately grab the gray sweater.
Children who struggle with using their nonverbal working memory, you give them a directive, “Time for school, go get dressed.” And you might have to give them two or three repetitions, “go get dressed, go get dressed.” They go upstairs and having not pre-imagined that plan, they may walk in their room and notice a bottle of nail polish and sit down and start painting their nails. Or, this is the student who goes up and they open up their closet and they just stare. They haven't quite made a decision. And then they're often what we call a beat or sometimes 22 beats behind and require a lot of prompting.
So nonverbal working memory allows us to see and pre-experience and even play with our future plan. And that play with the future plan is actually really important, because that's what allows us to have what we call plan B thinking. So for example, all of you might be thinking, “Oh, I think I'm going to have hamburgers tonight.” And you envision hamburgers, but then your mind, you're also able to say, “But if we don't have any of that hamburger that's in the freezer, then no problem. I know, there's turkey, I'll do turkey burgers instead.” And you just imagine you can go with a plan A, and you can go with a plan B.
Sometimes our students aren't able to get the plan A or even the plan B. And that's why for example, they might take an approach to doing a poster for school or writing something. And they're really stuck and it's not going well, and we suggest they take a different approach. And they just can't. They get really stuck in that approach, even if it's not effective for them. So that's why we have to really support students in creating mental imagery to drive their planning skills.
Jill Stowell: So if you think about the scenario that I talked about at the beginning of the show, where the parent tells the teenager to get ready for school, the teen totally means to do it and doesn't. So she doesn't have that mental plan. How would you suggest that parents support that without driving the teenager crazy because they don't like to be, you know, [0:12:35] [Crosstalk]?
Sara Ward: Right. Because it's a teen. Absolutely. So really, there's three specific ways. The first one is actually just a little bit of a language change. I think that we tend to say to kids, “Go upstairs, get dressed. Don't forget it might be a little warm in school today, you might want a sweatshirt that you can take off later.” OK. The problem is the minute I use all that language, I'm the one that's visualizing it, not the student.
So just change your language and sort of say, if you were standing at the door, all dressed and ready to go for when the carpool picks you up, what will you look like? And just asking that question, because even if the student looks at you and goes, ah, you know, eye roll, at least we know, we've asked the question that gets them to begin to say, “Well, what will I look like? What does fully dressed actually mean?”
The second thing that you can really do is instead of giving the student the directive and saying, “Go upstairs and get dressed. You should probably put on the gray sweater and the leggings, whatever it is. And don't forget to grab an extra snack in the kitchen, because you're going to need that extra snack for theater rehearsal tonight.” I would simply say, “Imagine you're at the door ready to go for school and theater rehearsal.” And then just say to them, “Show me your plan upstairs.” And even though the child is downstairs, we want them to just be able to say, “Well, I got to head to my room and get dressed. I've got to brush my teeth, and then I need to come down.” Even just having the student sort of begin to point out that plan of what they're going to do in a future space begins to develop that planning across space and time.
And one thing around that with teenagers, because I certainly work with a lot of teenagers is that there's two things. One, I often tell them, “I know your goal, and my goal is you don't want me nagging you anymore. Your goal is to get me off your back. So to get me off your back, we need to kind of have a plan of what it looks like when you're upstairs. Show me your plan.” So sometimes I just tell them that that's the goal is to be dressed to get me off your back. But then within that as well, one of the things that I just often teach my families and teenagers is, I'm just very clear with them, you're working on planning, you're working on organizational skills. Organization starts with an image in your mind of what fully dressed looks like. So let's get that image in mind.
And some students actually benefit from photographs. I will take a photograph of what a student looks like fully dressed for school. And then I will say to them “Time for school, this is what ready for school looks like.” And I show that photograph. But we always recommend photographs, initially, not necessarily a checklist, because a checklist, a child will read the words, but they may not pre-experience. Whereas if you give a photograph, the child sees what it's going to look like, and then has to plan backwards from that. So they're really engaging in that pre-imagination and rehearsal experience.
Jill Stowell: I love that. You know, there's just so much there. And there's a couple of key things that I think are really helpful for parents, sometimes just the slightest change in our language makes all the difference. And so being able to say, “What is your plan?” As soon as you do that, it triggers the brain to look up to visualize and start to plan and think about what they're going to do. So I think that is great language.
And the other thing is, you know, as you said, educate them. I love to tell kids how the brain learns and what they're doing. So if we say, you know, planning, I know we're working on planning, or you're working on planning and being organized, here's how our brain does that. It does it by picturing. So, you know, I'm going to ask you – sometimes ask you questions that are going to help you to picture. So if they know what they're doing, you know, it becomes less like, we're telling them what to do and more like they're engaging in their own process of learning and growing.
Sara Ward: Absolutely, absolutely. And another really simple easy language change, in addition to that is, and I think we chatted about this before, but it's always a really important quick reminder, regardless of the age of the student. Oftentimes, as parents and as educators, we give kids directives and directives are things like, pack your bag, brush your teeth, get dressed, grab the snack, empty the dishwashers, sweep the back deck, you know, manage the recycling.
The problem is the minute I say, “Brush your teeth, manage the recycling, pack your bag.” I'm actually the one picturing packing the bag. I'm actually the one picturing the recycling. So instead, we recommend you take that action word and you turn it into a noun. So take it from a verb, “pack the bag” and turn it into a noun. Now, the easiest way to do this is we call it the -er strategy, or job talk. Turn it into a job, “I need you to go be a toothbrusher.” Because immediately a student has to be like, “Oh, well, what does a toothbrusher look like? What does a toothbrusher do? Or I need you to be a dish emptier, or the deck sweeper, or could you go be the recycler? Now, the one thing about this is, full disclosure, it is a little bit of a magic trick, and it really works. But if you overuse it, your kids will be on to you.
Jill Stowell: Right.
Sara Ward: So try it like one or two times a day. Don't overuse it. But the other thing is don't hesitate to feel like “Oh, that's a baby strategy. I can't use it with teenagers.” I use it with teens all the time, but you're just very casual about it. So, “Hey, I'm going to head upstairs and finish being a dresser. Why don't you manage being a bag packer and I'll meet you by the front door?” Just the simplicity of that immediately gets a kid thinking, “OK, well, what does a bag packer look like? What does a bag packer do?” So “Hey, glad we finished up dinner, I just need you to be a dish emptier before you head downstairs.” So you can keep it really casual, but it has a huge impact. It actually really works.
Jill Stowell: That's great. Hey…
Sara Ward: It works on husbands too.
Jill Stowell: I have to give that a shot.
Sara Ward: Just saying.
Jill Stowell: So, at the beginning of the show, I had used that example of the child who for always forgets their homework at school, or they have some of it but they forgot their book or their paper. And so I wanted to think about how does nonverbal working memory play into changing that? Using that nonverbal working memory, how does that help us remember stuff?
Sara Ward: You bet. So, the fact of the matter is, is that we're always planning over the course of time. And that's really important to understand because it is the keystone thing that makes executive function skills inherently more difficult. Right? Executive function doesn't become more challenging because the academics got harder. We knew the academics were going to be harder.
What's different about it is when you're a little kid, all you have to do is get your homework in your homework folder. It's literally like the distance between here and the future, which is called that temporal window or that time horizon, it's from, you know, homework into the folder. Then as you get older, it's take your homework and get your homework in your backpack and take your homework out. But the next day, when you're in like, still, second, third grade, the teacher will say to you, “Take your homework out.”
But then fourth, and fifth grade, it's, “Do your homework, remember to turn your homework in in the bin.” And then all of a sudden, sixth, seventh and eighth grade, “I have homework to do in English and Spanish, not math, and then in history.” So I'm planning over greater distance of time. And then all of a sudden, I'm in high school, and “I got calculus homework today. I don't have to do it until tonight or tomorrow, because it's not due until Thursday. And I need to remember to turn it in on Thursday.”
The only way that we have that ability to plan over time is if we really visualize what that's going to look like. So we need to use a number of support strategies. One is, is actually really talking about the fact that kids need to visualize that. And we have a magic phrase for that too. We have a program called our “Get Ready, Do, Done” method where we teach students how to plan backwards from that future goal. What will it look like when I'm done? What do I need to do to make it look like that? What will I need to get ready?
But here's what's important about that is, is that a lot of students might be done with something. So, for example, they might be done with homework, or they might be done eating dinner, or they might be done with their shower in the bathroom. But just because you're done eating, you're not actually done with dinner. Just because your homework is done, you're not actually done, you need to submit it and maybe clean up your mess. And we call that the “get done”.
So one tricky thing that we can do with kids is we can say to them, it's great that you're done with your homework but to get done, you need to submit or turn it in. So, a little language change again, can make a big difference. If your child gets out of the shower, it's great that you're done with the shower. But to get done, we need to put our dirty clothes into the hamper. Great that we're done with dinner but to get done, we need to clean up. So that's one thing.
The second thing is, is really talking with students about what they visualize their plan is to turn in the homework. Because when you really talk about what it actually looks like, all of a sudden the student is using that imagery to rehearse it. So I don't want to simply say, “Turn in your homework.” I might say, “OK, when you turn that assignment in, what does that actually look like? Where do you see yourself turning it in, in the classroom?”
And have the student know what that teacher usually does. Do I turn it into the basket labeled third period? Does this teacher always collect it? Does the teacher always check it off, which means I need to have it open on my desk, ready to be checked off? Does the teacher only require us to submit it? So you know, sort of strategy number two is really getting kids to visualize. All right, I see myself going in class. As soon as I get into that Spanish class, homework is always due in the third period bin. So picturing that.
One other quick trick is if students are using an agenda book, I like to have kids check off the work when they're done, like I did the worksheet or I did the reading. And then when they take that worksheet, and they put it in the folder and the folder goes in the backpack, and they've made a plan for turning it in to get done, then I have them highlight it, so that they're really recognizing the two steps of being done with homework, but the get done remembering to turn it in. So I find that even just getting kids to recognize that those are two distinct parts of being done with homework can make a big difference with respect to planning.
Jill Stowell: Well, those are great strategies and, man, I lost my train of thought there. But there was something really I want to comment on.
Sara Ward: Well, I'll actually make mention of something because I saw in one of the comments, Ellie asked, “Can you talk about these strategies like pre-imagining and rehearsing for longer term events, like graduating at the end of the year and how to plan for that?” That's a really great question. Because for a lot of our kids, especially if it's November now, and graduation is at the end of the year, that is so far outside my spatial temporal window that a lot of kids, honestly, they neurologically, it is outside their developmental window of planning, and they just can't do that.
But if you create that visual imagery of maybe and even in a done image, have an image of what done looks like. We're in our cap and gown, maybe it's a graduation party, maybe the done goal is, is that we have a plan for school. I mean, it depends on what you're looking for as being the planning they need to do for graduation, or maybe they have a certain number of credits. That's where I would back up then and talk about what are all the things that we need to do to get the credits? What are the things that we need to do for cap and gown? What are the things that we need to do thinking about a party already?
But the beauty of say the Get Ready, Do, Done model is, is that that done stays is an image right there that they are planning backwards from. Because even if a student, I mean, a lot of kids, right now with homework, they're like, “Ugh! Whatever, it's just not that big of a deal.” They're not putting it in how those little points add up to impact your GPA, to impact your graduate. I mean, it's just too far outside their spatial temporal window.
So really talking with kids about, this is what that done goal looks like on your GPA, you have X number of credits. What do we need to do to get those credits? How do those points impact us? Because – and I have a lot of kids that have missing assignments, and even just helping them know, even getting 20 points out of a 40-point assignment is going to raise your average grade than getting a zero.
And some kids literally need to see how the averages of scores impact in over GPA. They need to see it. I mean, that's part of that nonverbal working memory. So I'll show them, here's all your grades, like if you were to choose to not turn in five things, here's what happens to your grade. If you just choose to turn in five things, even if it's, you know, 20% of the 50 points, it will raise your grade significantly.
Jill Stowell: Yeah. And you know, that brought back to mind what I had lost for a second there. And that is the fact that we make a lot of assumptions. And so, there's just a lot of just teaching that has to go along with this. And so having that goal there that you can see, and what are the things that are going to help me to get there is really, really valuable. And when you talked about kids who get their homework done, but to really be done. It includes turning it in.
And a lot of times, it's like, “Hoo! Got my homework done, I'm awesome.” And it's in their backpack, and then it never gets turned in. And so we all make the assumption, well, obviously, if they got it done, they're going to turn it in. But that's another step and so, you know, that's an important piece of teaching, too, is – and what does it look like to be completely done? So I love that.
Sara Ward: Yeah. I mean, I have a girl that I work with who is a junior in high school, and she has a ton of missing assignments. And I said to her, “Did you do the work?” And she said, “Oh, absolutely. It's in my backpack.” And I said, “Well, why didn't you turn it in?” And she's a girl who has a very high IQ, but slow processing speed. And what happens is she gets into the classroom and because it's a rotating schedule, every day the bin period changes. And so she doesn't know where it goes and what the expectation is and she's too embarrassed to ask. And she doesn't want to – I mean after all the kids have turned it in, she doesn't want to be the last one getting up to turn it in. So she's just not turning it in.
And so what it took for us to do was to go through her entire schedule, period by period and visually rehearse. OK, when you're in math, what does it look like when you turn it in math? And she really had to go through and realize, well, it'll still always be in this area, and we just put that on our schedule. And then we said, All right, how about in Spanish? OK, well, it's always online but it's acceptable to turn it online at the start of class. So we would just put, did you get it online at the start of class? And then in chemistry, it was always due on the counter in the back of the room.
But by seeing that on her schedule and pre-rehearsing it, she no longer had missing assignments, because it took away that processing demand when she got into the classroom, and all these things are going on, and she's too embarrassed to ask or to be the last one turning it in.
Jill Stowell: Right. And, you know, so often, especially, you have these really bright kids, and they don't turn it in, and we don't automatically think, “Oh, they're too embarrassed to do that.” We think, “Oh, they're talking to their friends. They're not paying attention.” And, and so really doing that exploration and then that visualizing that is just huge. And we've seen it turn around for kids, really in a matter of a week or two weeks. They're getting everything in, because now they mentally are rehearsing that, and they know what they need to do.
So I know all of this, I'm sure you know, with busy families and busy kids. You know, it seems like a lot, a lot of time, but it really pays off. Because it's like front loading, you put a little bit of time in here and then it pays off for the rest of the year.
Sara Ward: That’s true.
Jill Stowell: Hey, Sara, I want to jump into talking about the holidays. Because you just have such fun ideas here. So moms become major planners and organizers during the holidays, how can we involve our kids? And I know we had a slide up earlier with some kids in penguin costumes,
Sara Ward: Yeah.
Jill Stowell: Talk about that a little bit and how we can help our kids build these skills in holiday times.
Sara Ward: You bet. I do actually love arts and crafts for building executive function skills. Because in a couple of different ways, I think one of the things that happens is some of our kids right now, they often will get prebought costumes, or premade kits of things. And yet, we actually want kids to be able to learn problem solving and planning from things like craft activities.
So for example, I did have a student and I'll show you with the penguin costume where it was Halloween, and he really wanted to do a penguin costume. And this is a student who every year has grandiose ideas of what he wants, but he can't really pull that visualization to fruition. And then it would be like the night before Halloween, and he'd be very frustrated and very upset that he didn't have kind of the costume that he wanted.
So this year, what we did is we went online, and we said, “OK, let's just look online at lots of images of possible penguin costume.” So if you don't mind sharing the picture again, I'll walk you through this a little bit. So what we did is we printed out a whole bunch of different costumes. What could a penguin costume look like when you're all done? What are all the possible options?
And so we printed all those and then what we said to him is, “All right, well, of all of those options, what are the things that you like out of some of them to make your own costume?” So he's sort of coming up with his own ideas, too. And he said, “Well, I definitely want to have a painted face. I really want to have wings of my penguin. I want to have a white belly and I want a pink shoes and have orange socks.” So he put them together all those pieces and decided that if his penguin costume was done, this is what done would look like.
Then what he did is he worked backwards to the do. And the do is where he really identified the steps and I thought it was really fabulous. He said, “OK, well, I have to paint the shoes yellow. So maybe I'll paint the shoes yellow and while they're drying, that's when I can cut out the black felt.” And he would identify, “I'm going to cut out the black felt for the wings and for the part of the body suit. Then I'm going to cut out white felt for the middle of the belly, et cetera.” And he just kept working backwards from that imagery of what were the steps that he was going to do.
Then to get ready. I know you can't quite see it on here, but it's really fabulous. He said, “Oh, OK, well, if I'm going to wear a black hoodie, I'll use my hockey hoodie. It's in the basement. If I'm going to get white felt, I could get that at Michaels. If I were going to get orange socks, I could get that at the dollar store.” So all of a sudden he was not only imagining the materials he needed, but where he could go to run errands to get all of those things. And by laying that out it was really fabulous because he then went and ran those errands with his moms, got his materials. He knew exactly the steps of what he was going to do and what done would look like.
So crafts are great for kids because it encourages planning. But there are other things like don't feel like crafts are just for little kids either because, my goodness these days, Pinterest has amazing crafts for teenagers. And teenagers can make gifts for friends and family members. And if you are just looking to use crafts as a means of planning, I have to tell you my favorite crafts are Do-It-Yourself pet toys. I know that sounds funny, but you know, kids are so motivated by their pets. And oftentimes they don't even realize, “Wow! I could make a really great present for our dog or for our cat.” And so I have a lot of kids who will do backwards planning for that.
So I think I even had an image of there was a really great cat toy that was – where you could take a cardboard box and you could cut out the box and wrap – oh, this was a different one. This was a dog toy. But I like this for a really specific reason, because – I'm going to show you two different things with this image. This was a dog toy where you could wrap a t-shirt around a tennis ball, and then you could tie up the t-shirt, and it would be a great dog toy to throw. So this student had an image of what done looked like then he sketched out his own, identify the steps of what he needed to do, and then worked backwards to the materials to get ready. He needed a different size tennis balls, maybe an elastic band to hold the tennis ball in place and an old sock. He was going to put it in a sock and braid the sock. And then the get done, of course is give the toy to the dog but clean up. Like we always want kids to know, it's great that you're done. But you're not done until you get done.
But there's another picture with this I want to show you, which is that we do you have a lot of kids that can be rigid, and we want to develop cognitive flexibility. Crafts are a great way to develop cognitive flexibility. Because if I don't have a tennis ball, what could I use that would be the same but different. Maybe I could use a lacrosse ball. If I don't have an old sock, what could I wrap around the ball that would be the same but different? Well, maybe I could use a t-shirt.
And helping kids to come up with, you know, plan A and plan B can really reduce a lot of anxiety, enhance forethought and enhance planning. And you can even do that for all sorts of activities with your students. So, if you are planning to go out shopping for Christmas presents, you can say plan A today is I will pick you up from school and we're going to go to Target. However, there is a slight possibility that Auntie Jo is going to need, you know, me to run an errand for her. If that happens, then plan B is we'll run the errand for Auntie Jo and then we'll go to Target. So the students are already pre-experiencing plan A and plan B. So that's kind of an important language to be bringing in with your students as well.
Jill Stowell: Yeah, I love all of this, you know, I just think so often, executive function gets thought of as doing the tasks and planning and organizing that you need for school. And certainly, you know, that does involve a lot of executive function. But executive function is just how we live life and plan our way through it.
And so, I love this whole thing about the crafts because a lot of our kids do get, you know, kind of rigid in their idea. There's one way to do something. But if you take a craft and you look up all the picture – possible pictures and then pick pieces that you like, well that's mental flexibility. And it's being done in a fun way. And of course, that idea of starting with the end in mind, and then determining what are the things we need to do to get there.
Sara Ward: Absolutely.
Jill Stowell: That's just tremendous, you know, it's tremendous learning that applies to everything.
Sara Ward: And it's so easy to just take a red, yellow and green piece of construction paper and put it out on the counter in the kitchen and say “OK, our done goal is to make cupcakes. What are we going to do?” And really talk about we're going to need to mix them, we're going to need to bake them and kind of lay out those materials, the mixing bowl and maybe the cupcake pan. And to get ready, well, we're going to need our box cake mix and then we're going to need our milk and our eggs and all those things.
And, you know, I laugh about that because those of you who know that know me, my own daughter has really significant ADHD and is very dyslexic. And she used to crack me up because she was little she would go into the cabinet and she would take out a box of cake mix and she would pour the box cake mix into the bowl. And then she would say, “Do we have any eggs?” I’ll be like, “OK, well, wait a minute.”
Jill Stowell: I've been known to do this.
Sara Ward: Right. Yeah. And so there's sort of that backwards planning of all right, well, what is the done goal? And then part of that get ready is what are all the things that we need to get ready for this? But it always kind of made me giggle about that, that – I mean you got to do a little bit of that backwards planning.
Jill Stowell: Right. Right.
Sara Ward: It really helps.
Jill Stowell: All right, I want to tackle workability. You alluded to it earlier. What is it? Why is it important to establish it in childhood?
Sara Ward: Oh boy, this is a big one. And it's really important. As a matter of fact, there is a list of the top 10 predictors of college success, like who makes it in college and who doesn't. Ironically, parents, there is not a single academic skill on there.
The number one predictor of college success, believe it or not, is managing your own sleep hygiene. You need to go to bed, you need to get up with an alarm by yourself and get sleep that you need. But number seven on there is you need to do your own laundry. And number eight, I believe is you need to have a job before you go to college. And job doesn't necessarily have to be like full-time job. It can even be, you know, doing a “job at home”.
But workability means the following: You have to again know, well, what does a done job look like? So if you say to a child sweep the deck, you don't just mean do a little sweeping and that's it. Done means the entire deck is swept that the broom is put away, that maybe if you swept all the leaves off of it, that the leaves are bagged up, and that bag of leaves is by you know the front driveway, whatever it is.
That if we ask a student to pick up their room, that that is workability. And the fact of the matter is, is that as humans, we just have to do tasks that we don't want to do, simply because we are generally part of a unit. And here's what I mean by that. You might be part of a family unit or you're in college, you're part of a unit meaning that you've got a dorm roommate, and there are things that we just need to do that we may not like to do.
But workability is your ability to know, well, if the job is done, what does done look like? What do I need to do to complete that job? And what materials will I need to get ready? So it works on task completion, it works on task persistence, it works on sort of can – what's the word I'm looking for? I'm looking at the word contributing but that's not what I'm looking for, committing. It's committing to what somebody asked you to do and completing it and doing it according to what their expectation is, and that their expectation matches your expectation. Because at some point, we all have to engage in tasks and do tasks that we don't really like to do.
I handle email, I don't love email. I do laundry, but truthfully, I'm actually allergic to laundry, I just want to say that. But nonetheless, you know, your kids have to be able to do those skills. And some of them I really believe, should not really be for allowance. I think that some of them kids should just do because that's part of being a family unit, like setting the table, doing your laundry, cleaning up your room, because those are things that you're just going to have to be responsible for as a young adult emerging into adulthood.
But there are some ways that we can make workability easier for students. And for that reason, because it is so important, I actually believe in “child labor”. And I think hiring your students is a really great thing to do to teach workability and it can be a lot of fun. So you can use that job talk. And sometimes we recommend creating Help Wanted bulletin boards. And Help Wanted bulletin boards can be for all sorts of different ages.
So a Help Wanted bulletin board can be where you post jobs. Now, this would be a really great example for younger children, where jobs could be things like a towel folder. I mean, you have very young children that can be a towel folder, especially after the holidays where there's all those boxes, they can be a box squisher [0:44:31] [Phonetic].
One of my favorite jobs that my kids always did was to be a chef. And here's what the chef's job was. And there's two different ways. I would go to the grocery store on say like a Sunday and I would buy that big box a Goldfish, I would buy a whole bushel of grapes, I would buy a whole bag of carrot sticks. And then I would hire one of my kids to be the chef and they would take the Goldfish and pour it into smaller baggies or they'd cut up these grapes into individual snack packs. So then I suddenly had a bunch of snack packs, and my kids could just make their own snacks and can add to their lunches during the week. Little kids can be sock sorters I mean they can put socks together. It’s around a birthday and Christmas, you can hire your children to be a wrapper help you to wrap. It's a great way to spend time with your kids and partner with your kids, but also to teach workability.
Now, I think I also might have had Help Wanted bulletin board for older students. You can hire things like recycler, deck sweeper, one of my favorite ones is the event manager. And I'll tell you about the holidays and all those. If we had friends coming over for say, a Super Bowl party or friends coming over for a holiday party, if I had asked my daughter to help me with, you know, kind of the food, I'd probably get the teenage eye roll.
But if I hired an event manager, holy moly, my daughter can make an appetizer tray like nothing you've ever seen. And she found it to be really fun. I mean, she would enjoy that. And it was a help to me. And so I would reimburse her for that. So, you can decide whether you want it to be money like this or something else. But again, my number one request for you, and I'll show you this and distinguish it from something in a minute is make sure that if you do create a Help Wanted bulletin board, make it a job title, so that it's sweeper, stacker, organizer, wrapper. You don't want to just sort of say, “Wrap the presents.” because if you say wrap the presents, they're not really owning it of like, “Well, what does a wrapper look like? What does a wrapper do?” So again, if you're going skiing, hire a packer.
I do have a funny slide of how one mom interpreted it. She actually put the money right there on the bulletin board, and then put the job. I thought that was really clever. It looked a little bit like this. But my only comment on this one is I would have put like dog bather, there's pooper scooper, you know, cleaner, you know, put it into the job talk, that helps a lot too. But it really does create workability.
And I'm going to just chat for one second and give you one other strategy around this that I think is important. And I don't know if I included a picture of this or not. But many times, if we say, we want a student to do the recycling, we will give a lovely “verbal statement” on what to do. “OK, honey, you've got to manage the recycling, don't forget to take the barrels all the way to the end of the driveway. Remember, they've got to be four feet apart, or the recycling guy won't take them. And you have to make sure that the barrels are at least four feet from the mailbox so that when the mailman comes, if they come before the recycling guy comes that they'll still deliver our mail.”
Wow! I wouldn't do that. Because the problem is all of that is wa wa wa wa wa wa. It's just too much language for a student. What would be far more effective is on a day that the recycling gets done and is accurately complete, grab your phone and take a photo of what the organized recycling looks like. Have the barrels at the end of the driveway, show that they're four feet apart, show that the barrel is four feet from the mailbox. Then when it's time for that student to do the recycling, say, “Hey, I need you to be the recycler…” and just point to the picture. Because when you point to the picture, and that child can see that gestalt photo of bins are at the end, and they’re four feet.
And we can even talk about the get done. I mean, it's great that you took the barrels out but to get done, you need to put a new bag in the recycling trash in the kitchen, whatever it is. That – we know that photographs are way more neurobiologically enduring. They stick around and they last longer in your brain. So that eventually that will hold in. If you just repeat the direction every single time it doesn't stick as much. So get a photograph of what done looks like.
Jill Stowell: And, you know, I think it's really helpful. I was thinking I was visualizing the recycling bin and the mailbox and all of that, as you were talking about it. And I think as you set up your photo, you know, set that up together so that you're exploring how far four feet is and you know, kind of seeing how everything has to be you know, and then get your photo and you have that visual reference.
Sara Ward: Absolutely. Pre-experiencing it with students and walking them through the steps of what they need to do, and then getting that photograph of what it looks like when it's done. I mean if you want your student to clean their bedroom, get the room cleaned up with them and take a photograph of it. And show them what a clean bedroom looks like. And, you know, there's another value of that, besides just the fact that the picture is really helpful. It's that when students see that image of a clean bedroom, it actually reminds their future emotional self. I actually like it better clean.
But if you just say, go clean your room, go clean your room, and you give them a checklist. Here it is. Kids are just like, “Ugh. But really seeing it, actually, yeah, I kind of like the way that feels. I remember that, like, it's not so bad.” It can really calm emotions. And talking a lot about students with the benefit of that future emotion is really encouraging and support student’s motivation.
Jill Stowell: Absolutely. Well, I want to get into the chat in – but I have just one more thing I want to talk about. And that is that coming up to the holidays, schedules tend to get disrupted at school and home. And they might be disrupted in a good way, I hope, this year that kids and families will be able to participate in more of those disruptive fun things.
But if your child doesn't have a good understanding of the volume of time, they may end up having meltdowns, or frustration that you don't understand. And Sara, I know you have some really good examples of this and how to help kids through it. So I'd love to just have you talk about that a little bit and then we'll jump into the chat.
Sara Ward: You bet. So I think there's really two components of what you were talking about. One is tolerating novel unexpected experiences. And the other is, how do you handle that volume of time for that? And both of those are really rooted in situational awareness. And situational awareness, we call it the STOP and read the room scale, because STOP stands for Space, Time, Objects and People.
So space, where am I going to be? What's the time? What's my timeframe? What objects will I need? And then people is actually like, what's my role? What job am I going to be doing? So there's really two ways that we can address this. And the first is, is absolutely making time visible. And making time visible is going to occur in two different ways, because we have hourly time, but we also have daily time. So with hourly time, and again, those of you that have heard me speak before know this is always our favorite strategy. Let me just grab one thing off my desk. Here it is.
We absolutely love to use analog clocks. And the whole purpose behind using an analog clock, we don't want to hang it on the wall, we want to get it off the wall. And we call it a working clock, not because it has a battery and it's working. But it's a clock that we can use when we're doing “work’ and to visualize time. So I can use it if I'm doing homework. But I can also really use it to help a student understand planning and how time will fill up.
So for example, if it's 10:15 and we're going to leave the house at 10:30, we're going to leave in 5, 10, 15 minutes to go to Aunt Barbara's whatever it is, I can actually shade in that volume of time right there on the clock. But not only can I shave the volume of time, I can also really help that student do that planning. So if that student knows, “Oh, OK, I only have 5, 10, 15 minutes, what are the things that I need to do before we leave for Aunt Barbara’s? Well, I know that I need to brush my teeth and go to the bathroom. That'll probably take about five minutes.” And we can talk with the student about that.
We're going to brush teeth and we're going to pee. Then we know we need to get changed because it's going to be maybe like a little bit of a nicer party at Aunt Barbara's, so we need to do that. All right? I'm going to need probably only about five minutes to change clothes and then that'll give me about five minutes to put a few things that I want into my backpack to take to Aunt Barbara’s with me. Like maybe I want to bring my, I don't know, a book or maybe I want to bring a coloring something like that, whatever it is. So I'm going to pack my bag.
And that's great because, remember, it's a clock that is working as time passes the student can now see how much time they have left and then they can also reflect back on how did they utilize this time, because the student that is sort of sitting there on their video game and you say. “We got to go, we got to go. Come on, we got to go. Five-minute warning, four-minute warning, you know, like three-minute warning, we got to go.” A lot of kids can't shift and they don't really see that volume of time. This allows a student to see time.
And a very important language changes, Jessica Minahan, who does specialize in anxiety says, it's not very helpful to use the word warning. It's much more helpful to say to the student, we have 15 minutes, tell me your 15-minute plan. And get kids to begin to understand what can they fit into 15 minutes. Or say we have 10 minutes, and tell them a 10-minute plan would be watching one YouTube and then brushing your teeth. Tell them what they can fit into that.
So, if you're going to make daily time visible, one of my favorite tricks is I love to use calendars that are daily schedules that have 15-minute increments in it, because 15-minute increments really allow kids to see how time will fill up. I have to grab one thing by me right here. And what I like to do is make a usual schedule for students. So I might only put on there, what are the usual things that you do on like a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, whatever it is. So it looks a little bit like this, where you can see it's kind of got like those 15-minute increments. So I know I have school, then I have tutoring, and then I have soccer practice. And I only put the usual. So that's Monday. Then I can show a student OK, what is my usual Tuesday look like, you know, and then what is my usual Wednesday look like?
So here's what's great about unexpected changes. I can sit down with a student in the morning – and I like to put these in plastic sleeve protectors, like you can see, and have it out on the kitchen table and say, “Let's see what your Wednesday looks like. You have school, then you have time at home, then you have gymnastics, then you have time at home. And today is Wednesday, Project Runway is on tonight. I know you always love to watch Project Runway.”
But if there's going to be a change in the schedule, then what you can do is use a dry erase marker and actually draw on the schedule how the day is going to look the same, but different. So I can now say to a student. “Today is a Wednesday, usual day, but there's something that will be the same but different.” I will actually pick you up at noon, we're going to drive to the orthodontist. You have an orthodontist appointment. But the orthodontist happens to be near TJ Maxx and we're going to spend a little time at TJ Maxx to avoid traffic. We'll go to TJ Maxx, and then we'll drive home. It's the same but different.
And we find – I mean, I'm always amazed every time I show a kid, what their day is going to look like in 15 minute increments. And I say, “Is this what you thought your day looked like?” How many kids are like, “I had no idea.” Kids are not taught to see schedules of time. They're taught to think in agendas, which are written words, they're not visuals of schedules.
All right, now, I know I'm on like a roll but I want to answer your other question about unexpected changes, like we're going to a new restaurant, or we're going to Auntie Barbara’s for a Christmas party. And kids are like, “I don't want to go, I don't want to do it.” I mean, I have a lot of kids that will say to me, “I want to go to IHOP. Like we only go to IHOP, that's where we go, I'm not going to go to this new restaurant.”
Well, the thing about it is, is that our prior experiences are what guide our future thinking for something that is novel and unexpected. So if I invited you to Red Dragon restaurant tonight, and you've never been to the Red Dragon restaurant, you don't become anxious because your brain says, “Well, I have been to a restaurant. And I can use that restaurant experience to imagine and visualize and make a smart guess of what Red Dragon restaurant would look like.”
So my favorite trick with kids is if there's something unexpected, like a Christmas party or going to a restaurant, I'm actually going to first start with what they know. You love IHOP. Let's just talk about IHOP. And we wait, and we get seated. Then there's all those things on the table you like, like the maple syrup and the ketchup and things. And then we order – and your favorite meal is pancakes with whatever, or you like this. So we know that restaurants have waiting, tables, condiments on the table and menus with things that we like.
So guess what? We're going to be – we were invited to Red Dragon restaurant. It's exactly the same as IHOP. It has a place where we wait, it has a table, but because it is you know Asian Chinese fusion food whatever it is, instead of maple syrup, it's actually going to be soy sauce. And on the menu, same thing it actually has favorites. It actually has chicken nuggets that you really like. So this restaurant is exactly the same, but different.
And you just kind of use that phrase “same but different.” So if I say, “Oh, you've really enjoyed birthday parties. Remember when you went to Mark's party and it was so much fun. They had all those decorations up, and there were the activities and games and you got a really cool goodie bag when you left. Auntie Barbara is having a Christmas party. It's exactly the same as the birthday party. But instead of being you know, blue balloons, it will be probably Christmas decorations like garland. Instead of being activities like a piñata, it'll probably be gingerbread houses. It's the same, but different. And that's just a really great way to reduce anxiety for kids who have a hard time visualizing a novel future.
Jill Stowell: That is… yeah, this is tremendous, all of it. I love all these practical strategies and tip. Well, thank you so much, Lauren, and thank you everyone for participating with us. This is LD Expert Live. I'm Jill Stoll here with our guests Sara Ward. Sara, I can't thank you enough for being here.
At Stowell Learning Centers, we work with children and adults doing targeted brain training to permanently eliminate struggles associated with dyslexia, auditory processing, and other learning differences so that students can become independent learners and thrive in school. If you would like a free consultation for yourself or your child, give us a call and/or visit our website at StowellCenter.com.
Thank you again, Sara. This was incredible. We always love, love, love having you on the show. Thank you, all of you who have been sharing, subscribing and joining us each week. We'll see you next week.
Lauren Ma: Yes. I’m resonating with a lot of this as well. As a mom of a 6-year-old, I will say that when you were on our show last time, I started the jobs talk with my daughter. She just turned 6. And she loves that first of all. I mean she has just become so responsible even though she is young. But kind of the other element that I’ve really seen it be very effective is because she is – relationships are really important to her. She is kind of empathetic. She is – I call her a feeler. She is a feeler. And for her, having a role is – it’s like a role in our relationship, “Oh, I am your dishwater/loader. I’m that to you.”
And so, I always think of our – because we work with a lot of feelers, kids that are bright and creative but very relational and they love that. They love that element of like I get to have this as – when you were talking about unit as like our unit in our relationship, “I am this and you are this.” And it just gives her definition. So I’ve definitely seen that be very helpful in just getting her to be responsible. So, that’s my little mom addition.
Sara Ward: I love that. That’s great. Yeah. No. Especially that relationship-creating, it’s terrific.
Lauren Ma: Absolutely, yeah. When she was 4, when you ask her, what do you want to be when you grow up? And she would be say, “A helper,” not that she wants to be a helper forever. Now, it’s a magician. But it was a helper for a long time. [Laughter]
Sara Ward: There’s a really – I should make a quick mention. There’s a really great book called Make Social Learning Stick! by Elizabeth Sautter.
Lauren Ma: Yeah.
Sara Ward: And that has tons of strategies on social executive regulation. It includes a lot of examples of job talk and get ready to be done [0:01:50] [Phonetic].
Lauren Ma: I love it. I think we’ve posted her things in the past in our Mom Squad. OK. Going back to – you talked about top 10 indicators of college success. Ellie is asking, “Where can we find that list? Can we post it in the chat? Do you know who publish the list?”
Sara Ward: Yeah. I’m about 95% sure it’s on the SocialThinking.com website. So there’s a lot around that because part of being successful as a young adult is a lot of those social executive skills. And of course, Michelle Garcia Winner who is the owner of Social Thinking does a lot of that. So that’s – I’m about 95% sure that’s where that list is.
Lauren Ma: OK. Thank you. And if we can find it, we can post it in the chat. If not, we can post it in Mom Squad or our support group.
Candy is asking, “Any tips to catch up on incomplete, missing, and not turned in assignments especially so we are about three, four months into the new school year, progress reports have just kind of gone out and some kids are already in over their heads? Any advice on helping me to kind of crawl out of that hole?”
Sara Ward: Yeah. It’s a tough one when they really get way, way, way behind. And I’m curious what all you all do too. But I find that one of the most important things that I can do with students is I have so many students that are very now and not now and all or nothing thinkers. And so, there’s so much of this sense of, “I have all of these missing assignments and I have that assignment and I have this assignment.” And what they aren’t necessarily stepping back to consider is how that one assignment fits into the larger scope of the grade for the entire semester.
So for example, some of those missing assignments are like 5-point value assignments out of, I don’t know, 50 assignments that are due over the course of a semester. And so, it’s not a high point value. I mean it’s like you don’t have to go to extreme ends to have it be just right. You just need to get it turned in and have it be – meet the expectation of the teacher.
So for that reason, when I really find kids that are falling way, way behind, the first thing that I do is I ask the student, “When the teacher gave you this assignment, what did the teacher want to know? Did the teacher want to know that you just knew how to do reparations? Did the teacher want to know that you just understood figurative language? Or did the teacher want to know what your arts and craft skills were?”
Because some kids, let’s say they have to turn in a figurative language poster, they are completely wrapped around making the poster look so amazing with all of these extra things, which are interesting but that was not the learning objective of the teacher and that’s not where the point values are coming from.
So I find helping students be realistic about what are they demonstrating with this assignment and then I’ll say to them, “What’s point value?” And sometimes just having kids sort of really bang through low point value assignments can really give them a little confidence and help them feel relief of just getting them off their plate because otherwise, I find they just keep saying there’s so much to do, there’s so much to do and they don’t do any of it.
So that – and then the other thing I find is shaving on a clock and saying, “Let us spend 10 minutes and see what can we do in 10 minutes.” Because a lot of kids are surprised how many assignments they can actually get done in a short amount of time.
Lauren Ma: Right.
Sara Ward: So I hope that helps a little bit.
Jill Stowell: Those are great suggestions. Kids get so overwhelmed when they get behind. It’s like, “I can’t possibly do any of this. It’s just too much. I don’t know where to start.” And so, really being able to just start to dialogue in a different way as opposed to you have to get this done, you have to get this done. Starts to add some rationale thought into the picture. Yeah.
Sara Ward: Yeah. I find so too. I think it helps them a lot.
Lauren Ma: We have Anna asking and we are going to post your contact information at the end but do you – have you written a book? Do you have a book or anything that you recommend in regards to executive functioning?
Sara Ward: Yeah, I always say this. We have – we actually have three books with editors. One is really close. We were hoping to have it out by December 1st. We are still hoping it will be out by the end of the year, which is great and it’s all around especially building time management skills. It’s a workbook for families and therapists for working with students and educators.
I do have a couple of recommendations. So the Harvard Center for Developing Child I think it is, has an unbelievable course called Executive Function 101. And it’s an all-online sort of reading course. But then what it does is it also has an entire list of all the practical strategies that you can do to build the executive function skills in students, but it’s broken out by age.
So what do you do with the 5 to 6-year-old? What do you do with whatever, a pretween? What do you with a teenager? What do you do with a serious adolescent who is close to 18? I really recommend that. It’s just absolutely wonderful. I think it’s really fantastic.
The other thing is if you are here as an educator and as a parent actually, I don’t even know where this is located but Jericho School District, if you Google executive functioning handbook by Jericho Schools, they’ve written an incredible handbook on developing executive function skills in school at the elementary, middle, and high school level. And it really has some nice things in there. Particularly what I like is it gives a really understanding of what can kids be doing at elementary versus middle, versus high school with respect to executive function and what the expectations. I think those are pretty great resources.
And then – oh my gosh! Her first name has just escaped me. I think her last name is Branstetter. I may not be getting it right. But she wrote a book called, The Parent’s Everything Guide to Executive Function? And that also has a lot of really nice strategies in it. I can’t believe I can’t pull her name. But you’ll have to get that one.
Anyway, The Parent’s Everything Guide to Executive Function, I think that’s really terrific for parents as well.
And the final book I would recommend is of course, any of the Smart But Scattered series. And the reason why I say this is, smart but scattered is excellent. They also have Smart But Scattered Teen. But the one that I find I’m recommending more and more is they now have a book called Smart But Scattered Your Executive Function Skills because I can’t tell you how many families come to me and I’m probably fall into this too that will say, “How can I help my child with organization when I’m the one with organizational executive function challenge? It’s like this is hard for me. And this is a really great book. If you as a parent or an educator struggle with your own executive function skills, it’s a great book. So Smart But Scattered Your Executive Function Skills.
Lauren Ma: Perfect. Thank you so much. We do get that question a lot from parents saying like, “How in the world do I help my kid when I struggle with the same things?” So that’s a great resource.
Our elves are busily working back stage to find links, our magical elves behind this, they are amazing. And so, we will either post those in the chat. They are researching everything. Or we can also post – we have a private Facebook group, Mom Squad, which is a community of parents, of kids and teens with learning and attention challenges. We will post. We have guides in there.
So you just need to request to join Mom Squad. You can go to Facebook group and search the keywords SLC Mom Squad or we will post the link in the comment section to join. And I can follow up and post. We have an executive function guide and I can list all these resources that Sara has listed in our executive function guide in Mom Squad.
And another resource for parents that kind of want to continue this conversation, we are going to be – we have a monthly parent support group that we meet once a month and we discuss a variety of topic.
- Episode 64: Brain Training for Self-Care, Focus, and Productivity – Alex Doman
- Episode 63: Dear Moms of Neurodiverse Learners… – Megan Champion
- Episode 62: 2E and Misunderstood – Lauren Ma
- Episode 61: School Refusal, Digital Media, and Medication and ADHD – Dr. Keeban Nam
- Episode 60: Mental Flexibility Tools for Neurodiverse Learners – Jill Stowell
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