When I polled our coaches for their best ideas they've used to work with their clients in the summertime, I shouldn't have been surprised at the responses - but I sort of was! It turns out, the more relaxed mode of summer is fertile ground for all kinds of in-depth projects and explorations for our clients - and that intensive work allows for several Executive Function skill areas to be developed within a single project.
Let's take, for example, a couple of our coaches who worked with students who had a passion for cooking. Each of them decided to create their own cookbooks during the summer, featuring original recipes and photos of their creations. Aside from being a finished product to be proud of and to share with family and friends, they exercised some serious Executive Function muscle as they learned to:
- Plan out a timeline for each phase of the cookbook creation
- Brainstorm and organize recipes by categories
- Self-monitor details such as measurements and ingredients for accuracy
- Sequence the steps in each recipe
- Write clear instructions with their audience in mind
- Proofread and edit the book before printing
- Persist with completing the project (even when something didn't go as planned!)
It's probably not hard to imagine that when these students were assigned a science project or a history paper the following school year, their coaches helped them reflect on their summer cookbook project and how they might apply those skills to the new assignment.
Students have worked on creating their own blogs, board games, how-to videos, and creative writing compilations during their summer sessions with their coaches. They've done research on electric cars and created PowerPoints to convince their parents to buy the family a pug dog. Some clients have taken the summer to rearrange their living space and create systems to organize their belongings. Students preparing for freshman year of college have researched how to get around campus, where to access supports they may need, and created their own packing lists to prepare for move-in day. Regardless of the focus of those sessions, clients walk away with results they feel good about and set them up for a successful fall.
Our Top 4 Tips for Parents
Looking for some ideas to build Executive Function skills this summer? Below are 4 projects that parents can do with their kids, as a starting point. I'll bet you can come up with many more ideas (and we'd love to hear about them!).