Frequently Asked Questions about Executive Function Coaching
What are Executive Function skills, and how do they relate to academic success?
Executive Function skills are self-management abilities that help people achieve goals. In order to effectively meet the challenges of ever-increasing school demands, students must be able to manage their emotions and attention, organize and plan their work and time, and reflect upon and revise their tactics as circumstances change. Our goal is for students to become more effective by teaching them skills that apply well beyond the current challenges they face. Coaches use students’ current schoolwork and challenges as vehicles to build these Executive Function skills.
What does it mean that you are coaching students instead of tutoring them?
As coaches, we teach students the skills that allow them to become effective and independent. We use their current challenges - a night of homework, preparing for a test, writing a research paper - as a springboard to teach them how to approach the next challenge. We employ a gradual release approach where we begin with considerable support and then focus on their acquisition of tools and strategies so that our students become more capable of doing the work on their own. As they see success, they become more confident, more willing to invest greater effort, and more capable of working independently. In addition to the school-specific skills that this sort of academic coaching provides, the Executive Function lens allows us to build broader skills, such as time management, organization, sustained attention and self-awareness, that generalize far beyond school to success in life.
Who benefits from coaching?
We work with many students who are struggling to manage their schoolwork, due to ADHD, diagnosed Executive Function deficits, or other learning differences. We also coach many students who do not have formal diagnoses yet are encountering challenges with managing their academic demands. These students are often frustrated and discouraged, especially when their challenges are perceived as laziness. Most of the students we work with are very bright but haven’t been taught the tools and strategies required to achieve academic success. Our coaches provide students with the encouragement, strategies, and insight they need to become more effective and more confident learners.
Students aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits of coaching. Parents often tell us that household friction is reduced with coaching in place, and they no longer need to fulfill the role of “Homework Police.” Teachers also note positive shifts in students who receive our coaching.
How long does the coaching process typically take?
The coaching process can be transformative, which can take time. For many students, we’re teaching entirely different ways of viewing themselves and helping them to find motivation, often for the first time in a while. Beyond the skill-building, we’re helping them to take responsibility for how their lives go. For work at this level, coaching typically lasts about a year, depending on a student’s readiness for change and the scope of a student’s needs. Progress is highly dependent on several variables such as how motivated the student is, how self-aware the student is, how narrow or broad the goals are, and how long the challenges have been present. A highly motivated but disorganized student may need just a couple of months to learn, practice and internalize a new plan for managing a backpack and binder. By contrast, a student who is easily frustrated, struggles with attentional challenges, and doesn’t know how to get homework done on time, might need more than a year to learn the specific skills he or she will need and to apply them independently. Our goal is to help students achieve confidence, competence, and independence as quickly as possible. Our reputation is built on that premise.
How frequent and how long are coaching sessions?
For students up until 8th grade, we recommend an hour-long session every week. For students in 8th grade and above, we recommend a 75-90 minute session every week. In addition to the coaching time spent with students, coaches connect with them a couple of times in between sessions by phone, text, or email to see how the week is going and to check in around the students’ weekly commitments they set for themselves during sessions. Those check-ins are brief but important and are typically not charged.
How much does it cost?
Coaching is a significant investment in your child’s future. Usually, it takes about 12-15 months of weekly sessions, and the average total is in the $5000-$6000 range. The hourly rate begins at $180 per hour ($225 in the NYC area) and includes the coaches’ travel time and follow up with the students and parents.
Are there other costs?
We conduct an intake, which includes a thorough review of all records and a consultation with both the parents and the student. The intake costs $450 if it is in-person and $300 if it is conducted online.
How do I pay?
Initially, you just pay for the intake. Then, if you are thrilled, you pay a deposit of $1000 and we simply bill you each month for the coaching you do. Your deposit is applied to your final invoice.
Where do the sessions typically take place?
In-person coaching sessions are typically held at the family’s home. If your child lives away from home, if we do not have a coach in your location, or if it’s simply your child’s preference to meet with a coach online, we also offer coaching online via Skype.
Why do coaching online?
A number of students prefer to receive coaching online as the work involves shared Google docs, and the online format provides greater flexibility for scheduling. We also can have shorter sessions, which makes coaching both more economical and allows for additional checkins between sessions. Your Intake Coordinator will provide customized recommendations for session frequency and duration.
What days/hours are sessions offered?
Coaching sessions can be conducted any time: during school hours if the school is amenable to it (most private schools are) or after school in the afternoons and evenings. Depending on the coach, he or she may be available to meet during the weekend.
What are the backgrounds of the coaches?
Our coaches have Master’s degrees or higher and are also usually teaching or otherwise working full-time in a school or have taught for many years. Most are certified special education teachers, speech and language pathologists, school psychologists, and administrators. All of them have experience working one-to-one with students. They are trained by Beyond BookSmart in Executive Function coaching. Coaches also receive ongoing supervision on a regular basis from supervisors and receive ongoing professional development through Beyond BookSmart’s Research and Professional Development Team.
How will you measure my child’s progress?
Beyond BookSmart has developed a secure, online portal that parents can access to view their child’s priorities, tools, and strategies addressed in coaching sessions. Coaches also include assessments in two areas: student mindset and mastery of a particular skill. We track progress along both of these lines. Parents see updates as their child’s mindset about making a change in a particular area begins to move through the Stages of Change model that we base our coaching on (James Prochaska’s Transtheoretical Model of Change). Mastery of tools is shown in both notes and a drop-down menu.
How do we get started?
Our first job is to get to know you and your child’s situation during a free phone consultation. We tell you about the Executive Function coaching services we provide to make sure they’re a good match for your child. Our thorough intake process ensures that effective coaching begins immediately. Before the intake meeting, we review all relevant paperwork, including the neuropsych report if applicable, our own forms, and school records to get a better understanding of which Executive Function skills and/or academic areas are of concern. We typically conduct intakes online, unless you prefer it to be in-person, or, after reviewing your intake paperwork, we decide an in-person meeting would better serve your child. During your intake meeting, one of our Intake Coordinators interviews you to learn more about what challenges your child is facing and his or her mindset toward making changes in his or her habits. Your Intake Coordinator will discuss expectations for coaching, explain how we measure progress, determine coaching priorities, and answer any questions you might have about coaching. After reviewing the data gathered during the intake process, we carefully select the coach who is the best match for your child and his or her specific needs. Prior to the first coaching session, your coach reviews the Intake Coordinator’s notes and decides on the best approaches and strategies to implement in order to help strengthen your child’s Executive Function skills.
Find out more about how Executive Function coaching can help your child.