Middle School Executive Function Coaching
Self-Management Skills for Middle School Students
Parents often see signs of Executive Function challenges in their child in middle school, when students face increased demands for self-management.
Parents and teachers may notice:
- Organizational challenges - the student has difficulty organizing: whether a backpack, a desk, or multi-step directions for class assignments, the student may lose or forget to turn in homework
- Behavior or emotion management challenges - the student is impulsive or easily frustrated, cannot resist online distractions, has difficulty settling down to do work and persisting with 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 does not complete or even start assignments, may do poorly on tests due to ineffective study habits, may lose credit for late assignments
In middle school, students must learn to adapt to the expectations of several different teachers who may schedule tests and due dates for projects on the same day. Pre-teens and teens need to be productive amidst the distractions of phones and computers, as well as the complexities of peer relationships. Developmentally, parents see that middle school students may insist on managing their academics without parental oversight, yet they are often unequipped to do this independently. By 8th grade, Executive Function skills form the basis of a smooth transition to high school, where school demands compete with students’ social and extracurricular activities - and the academic stakes are higher.
What Executive Function Skills are Expected in Middle School?
Middle school is an important time for the continued development of Executive Function skills. These include:
- Self-regulation - managing strong emotions and inhibiting impulsive behaviors
- Attention - sustaining focus, especially for lengthy or challenging tasks
- Task Initiation - starting a non-preferred task
- Organization - keeping track of materials at home and in school, organizing ideas and information for essays and research papers
- Planning and Prioritizing - mapping out multi-step tasks such as long-term class projects and judging which assignments are most important to tackle first and which assignments matter most
- Time Management - allocating an appropriate amount of time for work and other commitments
While some students seem to develop these skills seamlessly, many struggle and benefit from a level of direct 1:1 instruction and support that is often unavailable in most middle schools.
How Executive Function Coaches Help Middle School Students
Our coaches work with middle school students to:
- Understand their brains and how emotions affect learning
- Learn and practice methods to cope with strong emotions
- Learn and apply strategies to stay on task and maintain attention
- Learn how to get started on work and how to persist when the work is challenging
- Develop personalized systems to organize materials and work areas
- Develop systems to start and complete writing assignments
- Learn how to break longer-term assignments into smaller parts and plan how to get the work done
- Develop self-reflection skills to help students take ownership of new habits
- Identify and use technology that improves their productivity
- Learn how to study and take tests effectively
- Gain insight about what motivates them, and use that knowledge to be productive
- Learn how to advocate for themselves with teachers
Find out how Executive Function coaching can benefit your child in middle school.