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Making College Affordable: 5 Tips for Securing Scholarships

College planning can be both exciting and stressful. While students and parents ...

The Best Strategy for Building Strong Student-Teacher Relationships

When I had to move when I was in college, I did what most people do: I asked my ...

Freshman Social Jitters? 5 Tips to Making Friends in College

As August nears its end and a new school year waits around the corner, a certain...

The Best Strategy for Building Strong Student-Teacher Relationships

When I had to move when I was in college, I did what most people do: I asked my friends for help. And, despite the busy lives they lead, they did. (Or, at least, many of them did. That’s right, I’m calling you out, Genevieve...) Now, I didn’t offer to pay my friends, but they helped me anyway. (I mean, I did bribe them with plenty of pizza, but no one volunteers to help you to move just for a few ...

Freshman Social Jitters? 5 Tips to Making Friends in College

As August nears its end and a new school year waits around the corner, a certain segment of students who recently graduated high school are coming to the same realization that I did three years ago: starting college is scary!  Moving to a new place without parents for the first time where you know few people (if any) is understandably intimidating. Add on a host of new responsibilities, like stayi...

Back to Campus: Insights for Parents' Top 5 College Transition Worries

Transitioning to college is always difficult, but for the semester ahead, students and parents alike are more anxious than ever about the upcoming fall. During a year filled with upheaval and uncertainty, college life shifted dramatically, eliminating the traditional college experience many students had anticipated. But this fall, students are likely looking at a more “normal” semester of in-perso...

Helping Your Child Find Fun in Summer Reading

Though summer hopefully has been a time for rest, relaxation, and reset, it’s also perhaps had some required summer reading for your student (whether they’ve started it yet or not...) This type of homework can feel like the antithesis of fun, especially during summer vacation, and your student may feel like putting it off until the last minute. This is often the moment at which summer reading sudd...

Build Your Student’s Self-Worth: 3 Tips to Conquer Imposter Syndrome

If we were to eavesdrop on the inner thoughts of some students, we might hear something like this: "There is no way I belong in this honors-level class with all these geniuses!" "I got into jazz band on a lucky break. Once they hear me play, they'll know I don’t deserve to be here." "Why did I take AP Art? This class is for real artists, not me." Whether it’s in a specific subject area or with one...

Awkward Adolescence: 4 Tips to Help Your Student Master Self-Care

For most of us, simply thinking about our early teen years can quickly produce cringe-worthy memories of awkward social interactions, questionable fashion choices, and hormonal chaos  - all of which feel best left in the corners of our middle school locker. But what can often be equally uncomfortable is the tough landscape of actually parenting adolescent kids. According to our team of Client Serv...

Blank Page Panic? 4 Simple Steps to Write an Essay that Impresses

Does your child start to panic when they get an essay assignment? As coaches, we see this frequently. Writing can be hard for students, especially when they have challenges in Executive Function areas like organization, planning, and task initiation. Here's a useful guide to help your student overcome that hesitation and write a paper they (and their teachers) can feel proud of. Let's dive right i...

Transitioning to College: What I Wish I Knew in High School

Editor's note: This week, we invited Sara Sullivan, a rising senior at Brown University, to share her experience transitioning to college, and the advice that she wished she had known in high school. 

When Perfectionism Paralyzes: 4 Steps to (Actually) Get Writing Done

Put yourself in your student's shoes: You’ve got an essay due in a week, and perhaps you’re not particularly looking forward to it. You set up your study space, turn on your computer, open a blank document, curl your fingers over your keyboard, and…nothing. You’ve got nothing. 

Support for Adults: New Ebook from an Executive Function Expert

I was cruising down the Massachusetts Turnpike, breeze in my hair, with just enough time to arrive a little early for my meeting, when I realized that I was supposed to be heading east, not west. My arrival would not be five minutes early; it would be ten minutes late due to this nasty thing called physics. How did this happen to me, an Executive Function coach? (And, heck, the owner of a company ...

Beyond Rhymes: How Poetry Can Teach Executive Function Skills

If the spoken-word poetry of youth poet Amanda Gorman at Joe Biden’s inauguration made you think, “Hmm, poetry seems a bit more interesting that I thought,” you’re in luck. April is National Poetry Month, and the fact is that not only can poetry be a fun thing to read, write, or hear, it’s also great at promoting Executive Function (EF) skills. In this week's piece, we'll be taking a look at which...

Why You Should Stop Rescuing Your Partner (and what to do instead)

“If I don’t wash the towels, then make up the lunches, then go get ice for the cooler, and pack the car up tonight, we’ll never get out the door and to the beach tomorrow.” This is just the sort of thing my friend Dylan would say as he prepares for Cape Cod traffic in the summer. Usually, I reply with something like: “Could Geoff help you with some of that?” Dylan laughs and rolls his eyes as he r...

Your Child’s School is Reopening: a RoadMAP for Student Readiness

We can feel the buzz in the air and vibrance in everyone’s step. I’m not talking about spring fever, I’m referring to our hope and excitement as we begin to imagine living in a post-pandemic world. As vaccinations become more widespread, so does everyone’s anticipation for a life resembling what we once had prior to COVID-19.  But will your child be ready?  We will never forget the fear as the pan...

Answers to Parents' 5 Biggest Questions (From Student Success Experts)

One benefit of having over 400 coaches at Beyond BookSmart is the ability to gather insights from such a wide field of Executive Function experts. And given how chaotic this past academic year has been, our coaches have become accustomed to answering some of the most pressing concerns that parents have about their kids’ learning. In this week’s article, two of our coaches, Diana Horan and Sarah Va...

How to Keep Your Kids On Track (Without Being a Helicopter Parent)

Picture this - you just finished your second Zoom meeting of the day. Your daughter is in the kitchen attending school remotely. She is a bright kid, but tends to be get distracted and off track during her remote classes. You walk into the kitchen to refill your coffee, but really your objective is to check in on her. As you walk in, she frantically closes a couple tabs on her computer.

Inside a Master's Mind: How Chess Builds Executive Function Skills

2020 was a year filled with discovering (or rediscovering) new activities to keep us occupied in a COVID world: the joy of baking banana bread, learning a new instrument, decluttering long-neglected areas of our homes - and, more recently, the mental workout of playing chess. Thanks to the popular Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit,” chess has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. And unlike the ext...

1000 Calls in 2020: Insights from Frontline Executive Function Support

Moments of quiet and calm - and eruptions of tears and frustration. At night, a tangle of worried thoughts instead of restful sleep.  While this could describe daily life for many of us in 2020, our team has been particularly attuned to the new challenges that parents and professionals have been facing this year. How have we kept our fingers on the pulse?  During the past year, our Client Services...

Why You Should Stop Rescuing Your Teen (and what to do instead)

It’s 7:45 on a Thursday night and your son finally gives his eyes a break from the TV just long enough to remember that he has a major essay due for English tomorrow. He might not admit it, but the frantic pacing and backpack digging already reveal everything you need to know - it’s not the first time he’s had a last-minute cramming crisis. Without asking details, you sigh and abandon your own pla...

Toxic Positivity: Self Esteem Costs of Poor Executive Function Skills

When I was in grad school, I worked at a gym. One of the things I recall vividly about my time there were the encouraging vibes from personal trainers, group fitness instructors, and the members themselves. People clung to mantras such as “The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow” and “The only bad workout is the one you didn’t do”, and “Be stronger than your excuse.” Phrases...

6 Simple Motivation Hacks for a More Productive Life

“Not another meal to prepare!” “I wish I was motivated to work-out.”  “I just didn’t have the time to do that today." Sound familiar? You're certainly not alone - getting motivated isn't always easy. We all have those days where the routines get stale and even getting out of bed becomes an arduous task. In this article, I'm going to share my six simple motivating hacks that I use every day to live...

The Best 15-Minute Strategy for Overwhelmed Parents

Ah, the pandemic... Overnight, many of us parents became a nurse, a short-order cook, a guidance counselor, a teacher, and - most of all - a multitasking pro. From worried, sleepless nights to tired workdays, life as a parent in 2020 has been a challenge with seemingly no end in sight. How can we as parents possibly help our children when we are feeling totally overwhelmed?

Executive Functioning Isn’t Just Kid Stuff: A New Resource for Adults

Mia, a curious 6th grader who was into dinosaurs and art class more than anything else, had been working with me for about two months when she finally settled on her organizational system: Triceratops stickers on her math folder, Ankylosaurus stickers on the English folder, and Velociraptor stickers for the social studies folder. Science and art -- her favorite subjects -- were already well-decora...

2 Executive Function Skills to Help Parents Beat Back to School Stress

There are many things people never tell you about parenting. For instance, how many fingernails you’ll clip, or that you may have to tell your son to stop chasing his sister with moldy bread (okay that second one may be a “me” thing)...  However, the one quirk that we all were definitely not told about is that we’d have to parent through a pandemic. As many of us have discovered, there’s no handbo...

Activating Teens with a Summer Project to Build Executive Functioning

This turbulent school year has finally reached its end! But now that summer is here, many of you may be shifting into this new season with some concerns: What will my teen do if they’re not returning to camp? Will my teen be screen-bound for hours on end? Will my teen sleep all day and stay up all night, messing with their circadian rhythm? All of this upcoming downtime provides a host of new chal...

Adulting in 2020: 5 Key Tips for Resilience from a Recent College Grad

We’ve finally reached the halfway point of 2020, and I think I speak for just about everyone in saying that these past 6 months have felt more like 6 years. A global pandemic, widespread economic uncertainty, mass unemployment, and now, historic protests against police brutality and racial injustice in every major US city - all of which have already cemented 2020 as an infamous year in the history...

How Martial Arts Training Helps Develop Executive Function Skills

Editor’s note: This week, we feature guest bloggers Michael Keesler and Jason Navon of Fox and Ferns Mental Health in Philadelphia, PA. Please read more about Michael and Jason below. In fall of 2000, a 16-year-old Michael Keesler took his first class at the Asheville Taekwondo Academy. It would be the first of many classes to follow, each beginning with bowing in and reciting the tenets of the sc...

The Anxious College Student: An Executive Function Connection

College students have plenty of fuel for anxiety. They’re in a social and academic environment that’s significantly different than any that they’re used to. They’re often trying to balance course work with a job - in addition to social and family obligations. And they’re doing all this while also trying to chart out a plan for their entire future (and trying not to think too hard about all the stu...

Why Smart Kids Can Struggle in School

The first part of the school year is almost in the record books, and already you see the writing on the wall. Your bright, funny, curious child brought home a backpack crammed with crumpled worksheets, last week’s hummus snack, and teacher comments that were less than stellar. You know she can do better. Her teachers know she can do better. Your child wants to do well - but is at a loss as to how....

Pets, Chores, & Other Nuisances: Negotiating Responsibilities at Home

Even though much of our work as Executive Function coaches focuses on helping students and adults work more effectively, you may be surprised to learn that we get a fair amount of questions during our presentations and talks that relate to managing a household, as well. And why not? After all, we use skills such as time management, emotion regulation, planning, and persistence in our everyday live...

Summer Tips to Build Executive Function Skills

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 ...

Why Do Gifted Students Often Struggle in School?

School should be easy for a child who is gifted, right? On the surface, that's a simple answer: "Of course!" But if we take a closer look at a typical school experience for a gifted child, we often see some version of the following scenario...

Back to School Tips for the Family with Executive Function Challenges

The lazy days of summer are nearing an end and the kids are finally heading back to school. This time of year can be a relief for many parents, but it can also feel overwhelming: How will we be ready for that hectic first day? Where is that school supply list? Did my child complete their summer reading log? If your child has Executive Function issues, much of the burden often falls on you, as a pa...

Can Spending Time in Nature Improve Executive Functioning?

Editor's note: This week, we feature guest blogger Michael Keesler, J.D., Ph.D., a neuropsychologist who practices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Please see his full bio below. With spring’s arrival, parents and children are shaking off winter’s cabin fever and returning outdoors. On the one hand, it is no great insight to observe that we enjoy spending time outdoors in nice weather. But there may...

Yoga and Executive Function: A Combination for Student Success

Lately yoga has been paired with everything from goats to beer, but the most natural pairing may well be yoga and students. For a fun activity that has no specific goal, yoga can certainly pack a punch when it comes to helping with self-management skills. How could a non-competitive exercise help students to sharpen their Executive Function skills? Practicing yoga not only helps develop confidence...

A Day in the Life of a 4th Grader With Executive Function Challenges

As an adult, you may think that being a fourth-grader is the easiest life around — no bills to pay, no worries about your career, no responsibilities other than some homework and a couple simple household chores. But can you imagine being a fourth grader whose everyday world of school and home feels overwhelming because they lack the Executive Function skills needed to keep focused, manage their t...

Infographic: When Do Executive Function Skills Typically Emerge in Children?

As Executive Function coaches, parents frequently ask us what skills are typical for students to have mastered by a certain age. The answer is often complex, as each child is unique — a child's learning profile, developmental history, environment, and life experiences all interact to influence how and when Executive Function skills emerge and solidify. We've created this handy infographic below to...

4 Ways to Help Your Child Build Executive Function Skills this Summer

Summer is a great time for sitting on the beach, splashing in the pool, backyard barbecues, and you guessed it: developing Executive Function skills. This time of year, we hear a lot of parents worry that summer won’t be a productive time to learn (or continue to build) these important foundational skills.

When is the Best Time to Work on Improving Executive Function Skills?

When does a minor problem become a major problem? Sometimes the tipping point is just out of view, but it creeps up over time. In 2013, my primary care doctor came into the room and said to me, “You’ve gained six pounds since you were last here.” Yup. That sounded about right. Seeing as I’m not a scale-watching fanatic, the comment didn’t really affect me. But that wasn’t the end of the discussion...

Why Can't My Child See the Big Picture?

Has your son ever lost points on a test or assignment because he did not follow all the directions? Does your daughter highlight everything when she reads and as a result can’t figure out what to study? Does your son complain about how his teacher is “torturing him” because he does not see the point of the assignment? If any of these common scenarios sound familiar, you may find yourself wondering...

The Adolescent Brain: Why Executive Functioning in Teens Is a Challenge

Editor's note: This blog is an excerpt from a longer article The Adolescent Brain: Primed For Thrills And High On Life. Reprinted by permission from The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, a division of Massachusetts General Hospital. Teenagers are convinced they are ready to take the reins, no longer wanting to be held back by overly-cautious adults who don’t really "get it," who don’t understan...

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