What is Executive Function? Sounds like something that would apply to a man or woman CEO of a corporation. If you understand Executive Function, you may understand your child a lot better!
The pre-frontal cortex or frontal lobe is the area of the brain associated with Executive Function. It is usually the last part of the brain to develop these skills fully, and the first one to "start going" as we age. The frontal lobe is associated with functions your child must perform such as planning, organizing, problem-solving, self-control, focus and shifting attention. Your child's task initiation, working-memory, self-regulation, time management, and task completion are all effected by how developed his executive function skills are developed.
If you would like more information on this subject you can, of course, google it (who knew long ago that one day "google" would be a verb?!). I also recommend the following book for parents:
"The Everything Parent's Guide to Children with Executive Functioning Disorder" by Rebecca Branstetter, PhD. I purchased the book on Amazon.
"My mom is a great mom. She takes care of me when I'm sick. She is a really good cook. She helps me with my homework. My mom is the best."
The above paragraph is an example of a child's early attempt to put several sentences together to support the main idea or topic "My mom is a great mom." What the paragraph lacks is elaboration or details. When I work with students on writing a good paragraph, I tell them "If you mention something, tell more about it." In other words, if you mention in one sentence that "she takes care of me when I'm sick" - the next sentence should be an example of how she does that. The next sentence should "tell more about" the previous sentence. I tell the student that she needs to support or prove the statement that mom takes care of you. When finished, the above paragraph might look something like this:
"My mom is a great mom. She takes care of me when I'm sick. I always feel better when she brings me ginger ale and hot chicken noodle soup. Mom is a really good cook. My favorite dinner is her spaghetti because she makes spicy meatballs for the sauce. She also helps me with my homework. I have a hard time with math, so mom sits with me and helps me understand the problems. My mom sure is the best!"
That paragraph may still need some work, but it's a better paragraph than the original. In my next blog I'll address how to help your child not begin every sentence with the same word. Take another look at the original paragraph. Three sentences in a row begin with "she."
Adding the detail sentences helped take care of that problem, but there are other strategies for helping your child not begin every sentence with "I" or "They."
See you next time. Jan
( I will use female pronouns this time to make things easier)
Once you have made the decision to have your child tutored, the next step is to tell your child. Start out by reminding her of her strengths - even those that aren't academic. Being artistic or musical, theatrical, physically adept at a sport or gymnastics, good at spatial perception (building things) - all these strengths are equally important. Then tell her that since she is having a bit of trouble in ____ (reading, math, writing) you want her to work with her own, personal coach. Make an analogy to something she can relate to - her coach in gymnastics, for example, helps her with the things she is already good at doing, as well as helping her get stronger in other areas. You can also point out that the best athletes in the world have coaches. Examples include football players and Olympic champions. I think the word "coach' sounds less intimidating. The word tutoring is bound to slip out eventually so it's fine to use the word "tutor" as a synonym for "coach." It's also a really good idea to be present at her first tutoring session so she feels assured because you are there. And you can also listen in from the other room, perhaps, and get a feel for how the tutor is relating to your child. Also, have reasonable expectations. Improvements can be visible sometimes very quickly, but it's usually a progression that is most apparent over a few months.
Some children understand what they read aloud much more easily than text that they have to read silently. When I work with students on reading comprehension, one of the things I teach them is to "read, pause, think, read on." When you are helping your child at home to understand a reading assignment, try this: First have him read a paragraph or so. Then have him pause, even close his eyes for a moment, and think about what he just read. Can he remember what happened in that part of the story, or name some details learned if it's a non-fiction passage? If he doesn't remember much, then reread that paragraph; otherwise continue and read on. Continue to employ this strategy paragraph by paragraph. Your child will remember a lot more about a 3-page assignment in his Social Studies text doing it this way, than if he read the entire 3 pages and tried to recall the content. Good luck!
Welcome to my blog. My goal is to share some information you may find helpful when working with your child at home in the areas of reading, writing, and understanding different learning styles.
To make my postings easier to read I will either use the word "he" throughout the entire post or "she", rather than filling my comments with "he/she." :)
I have over 20 years classroom teaching experience and for the last 8 years have tutored students in grades K-5th one-on-one. Please click "Meet the Tutor" to learn more.