Executive Function Strategies Blog

The Anxious Middle Schooler: An Executive Function Connection

Middle school. For some of us, those three syllables can elicit chills of recalling social slights, embarrassing faux pas, and other growing pains of adolescence. Decades later, things haven’t changed much. In fact, it’s still about lunchtime and who you manage to sit near. As if that whole scene isn’t stressful enough, add in Executive Function challenges for a 6th, 7th, or 8th grader and you can see why kids this age can be a ball of anxiety. Heck, elementary school was a piece of cake compared to this new setting. Now they’ve got all these different teachers who talk so fast and seem to expect you to just know how to do stuff like take notes and reach out for extra help. Let’s follow a student who is having a tough time in middle school and see how some Executive Function tools might help calm the stormy seas a bit.



Do Your Child’s Academic Strengths Mask Executive Function Deficits?

In my work supporting gifted students, I see many high achieving children who make it to middle school, and sometimes beyond, without exerting significant effort.  Their cognitive abilities or remarkable memories put them in the highest reading and math groups, earn them advanced scores on standardized tests, and make completing homework packets a breeze. They often excel in afterschool activities as well, winning accolades from club leaders and top prizes in a wide spectrum of competitions. These same children might have Executive Function deficits such as cluttered desks, not being able to find their papers or materials, and perhaps they do all of their homework in a rush the night before it is due. But, who cares? They’re fine, right? Don’t mess with success. 



Advocacy for Your Child: Knowledge is Power

Editor's note: Guest blogger Beth Walsh, MS, OTR/L is an educational advocate and consultant from Massachusetts. Here, she provides a professional educational advocate's perspective on how parents can make the Special Education system work for their children.

Congratulations!  If you’re reading this article, you are likely feeling worried, frustrated, maybe angry, and probably at least somewhat out-of-control.  So, why congratulations? Because you are taking an important step in your ongoing work in advocating for your son or daughter. Take a breath, because you are on the right path. As the English philosopher, Francis Bacon, said:  “Knowledge is power”.  By doing your research and reading this blog, you are empowering yourself by gathering critical information that will help your child.

Advocacy work is not easy - you know this - you’ve been at it on your own.  Parenting is not easy either. Having a child with learning differences or any type of disability, big or small, can make it even trickier. You may just be starting out…or you may not even know how to start out in negotiating the world of Special Education. You may not even know what your exact concern is for your child, but you are the parent- and YOU know that something is not going right.  Some of you may have been at this for years and might feel weary…. or furious.

 



The Transition from Middle School to High School: Why Parents Lose Sleep

Few phrases are more fraught for families than “now that you’re in high school...”  As if middle school wasn’t challenging enough, with bad hair days, projects, hormones, and science labs that actually expect students to construct a device to prevent a raw egg from breaking from a drop of 20 feet...with JUST STRAWS AND RUBBER BANDS! Well, you get the picture (probably all too clearly).

Turns out, there’s a darned good reason for parents to feel anxious. Even when the curriculum in middle school has been rigorous, in high school the expectations get amped up in ways that put students with weak Executive Function skills in peril.