Executive Function Coaching for High School Students

We'll help your teen build the life skills they need to thrive at school, home, and far beyond. 

Female student in library

Georgia's story

Listen to a high school student, Georgia's inspiring story of how Executive Function coaching not only improved her academic performance but also mended her relationship with her parents. 

Executive Function Skills for High School Students

By 12th grade, Executive Function skills are needed for a smooth transition to college, where heightened school demands compete with new freedoms and extracurriculars.

Parents and teachers may notice:

  • Organizational challenges: The student has difficulty organizing class materials, keeping track of and turning in homework, or approaching writing assignments and long-term projects
  • Behavior or emotional management challenges: The student may have poor relationships with teachers, be unable to resist distractions, have difficulty settling down to do work, or give up easily on challenging or tedious tasks
  • Time management challenges: The student leaves work until the last minute, causing panic and stress at home
  • Academic challenges: The student lacks persistence or often not start or complete assignments, may do poorly on tests due to ineffective study habits, may lose credit for late assignments, may not know how to take notes
  • Self-care challenges: The student needs reminders to complete grooming or hygiene routines or household responsibilities - or does not make time for adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, or other healthy habits

Expected Executive Functioning Skills for High School Students

  • Task initiation
  • Time management
  • Self-regulation
  • Organization
  • Attention
  • Planning & prioritizing
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Emotional Regulation

Which Executive Function skill is your student's biggest blindspot?

Take our short assessment and receive free resources to help support your student's #1 Executive Function challenge area. 

Student EF Assessment Graphic (2)

Executive Function Strategies for High School Students

When the morning rush is too stressful

A student's tendency to use the snooze button isn’t the main issue; there’s a lack of planning on their part that makes the morning routine more frantic than it needs to be. If it's wardrobe indecision that's driving the morning crush, we might even suggest enlisting the help of Snapchat for this (bear with us, here). Each night, the student could pick out three potential outfits and Snap them to friends. Whichever gets the votes goes right to the on-deck area for the morning. Students can also set up daily alerts for 8:30 pm the night before that walk them through a checklist of items they need to pack up: lunch, homework folder, planner, textbooks, and gym clothes. This way, they can get to school with homework in hand and a lot less stress.  

When classes feel too boring

Although it’s tough to maintain your attention when a subject that you find uninteresting is presented in a dull manner, learning to do so is part of developing Executive Function skills. Students can’t change a teacher's voice or teaching style or the subject, but they can change what they do when they listen to it. That might start with posture. Sitting upright rather than slouched over can help students get more oxygen into their lungs to feel more alert. So might the way they take notes — by finding a method that works for them (jotting down keywords, diagramming concepts, connecting chemistry to other aspects of her life). Other students have success by challenging themselves to participate in class a given number of times or by popping a strong-tasting mint to boost alertness.

When procrastination is a problem

Students' tendency to put off their homework until the last possible minute is understandable. The amount of energy and attention students need to focus on classes all day leaves them with little gas in the tank to begin a homework session. Add in distractions from friends texting and a younger brother watching cartoons in the next room and students' task initiation skills are put to the ultimate test. A student could start by setting up a to-do list for the evening. If distractions are the real barrier to getting started, they can try reducing their effect. They might try the Forest app on their phone to “plant” a tree on their phone so that while they work, it grows. If they touch their phone, the tree dies. If the distractions come through on the computer, installing Freedom might do the trick as this widget can block the user's access to tempting websites for a set amount of time. And, of course, they need to be mindful to relocate away from sources of distraction like siblings watching TV or overexcited pets who want attention.

Young female student reading a book
  • Learn and practice methods to cope with strong emotions
  • Learn how to get work started and persist with challenging work
  • Develop systems to start and complete writing assignments
  • Develop self-reflection skills to help them take ownership of new habits
  • Learn how to study and take tests effectively
  • Learn how to advocate for themselves with teachers
  • Learn and apply strategies to stay on task and maintain attention
  • Develop personalized systems to organize materials and work areas
  • Learn how to break assignments into smaller parts and plan when to get the work done
  • Identify and use technology that improves their productivity
  • Gain insight about what motivates them, and use that knowledge to be productive
  • Prepare for a successful transition to college

Executive Function Goals for High School Students


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Check out our variety of resources and tips on Executive Function support, ADHD, mental health, and more.