Executive Function Strategies Blog

Gaining Calm by Organizing: How to Clear Your Space & Mind

We are living in an unprecedented time. As easy as it is to become overwhelmed amidst the chaos, there are things we can do to take control of the world around us in order to bring about a sense of security and calm. One of the most effective steps we can take to do this is by first getting a grip on our organizational skills. With so many of us being stuck at home, this may present the perfect opportunity to do so (spring cleaning, anyone?).

If the thought of organizing and decluttering your home is enough to make you cringe and shake with anxiety, fear not! Here are some simple steps to help you conquer your reservations and channel that energy into something productive.


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 student loans they’ll need to repay upon graduation). While that is a lot to handle, some of that anxiety can be mitigated with upgrades to the way that they manage their demands, or their Executive Functioning. The two students you’ll be reading about show the connection between anxiety and Executive Function - and how learning more effective self-management techniques can help to lighten the emotional load.



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. She thinks, “I guess I’m not so smart, after all.” But succeeding at school is not all about pure intellect, or IQ. Rather, skills of self-management, or Executive Function skills, are the key to consistent academic achievement. Smart kids can struggle in school when they don’t have tools and strategies to manage their academic demands. 



The Anxious Elementary Student: An Executive Function Connection

Students in elementary school often have good reason to feel anxious. Whether it’s taking tests in class, handling unexpected changes in a schedule, or remembering to take their materials home or to school, young students have a number of daily demands that require using their Executive Function skills. And because those very skills are still developing in their brains, elementary-aged kids won’t always be able to cope with their daily challenges without a little guidance from the adults in their lives. Here are a couple of scenarios that illustrate the connection between a student’s anxiety and gaps in their Executive Function development - and ways that parents can help bridge those gaps to build skills in their children.