What exactly is that?
It’s the mental skills we use every day to learn, work, and manage our daily lives. In short, its parts are how we get things done. Executive functioning is the CEO of the brain.
Picture your computer with 70 tabs open.
Can you find what you need in one click?
That’s Executive Dysfunction in Focusing.
Not for much longer, brain!
With 70 tabs open, you’ll click one, but it won’t be what you needed. So you click again, then again. Now you’re frustrated. Your brain would rather not feel this way. So when you stumble on that funny dog video, you watch it, and down the rabbit hole you go.
We have ALL had this experience. Kids and teens with executive dysfunction in focusing have it all. the. time.
What do too many open tabs look like in kids and teens?
- Do they rush to get homework done and produce work that doesn’t showcase how smart they are?
- Are they impatient with tasks that require dedicated focus?
- Do they give up when obstacles arise?
- Do they escape into fun activities while homework still needs to be done?
- Do they need repeated nudges to get started, get back to it, and get finished?
Does this sound like your child??
They are not alone! Executive dysfunction is common. It’s got nothing to do with intelligence or capability. Executive functions can be learned. Just like their favorite sport, it takes practice and a great coach.
Photo by Jeff Stapleton from Pexels
We’ve got your back!
5 Quick Tips to Help with Focus
These are simple ways you can support the students in your house. Does engaging your child or teen with their school work is cause conflict in your house? A school coach is the perfect neutral third party to set them up for success.
1. Set Up A Quiet Learning Environment
Quiet is more useful than a noisy space. But quiet is more than just sound; it’s visual clutter and other distractions as well. Whether you’re all working and studying from home, “just” managing homework after school, or a combination of both, we know all family homes can feel crowded and chaotic.
Here are some simple shifts to create more quiet in any setup:
- Face a visually quiet wall versus an open room.
- Avoid group study, including sitting next to siblings.
- Place your phone on silent and out of reach.
2. Prep Your Body!
Our parasympathetic nervous system calms down our body. It can be hard to access when we feel found up. Breathing out slowly turns on this system, which calms the body and brain. This calmed down state is perfect for studying! (And anytime you want to relax or focus.)
Here’s a simple exercise for 3 x 4, 5, 6 breathing:
- Close your mouth.
- Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 5 seconds.
- Breathe out through your mouth with a “whoosh” sound for 6 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
3. Review Directions Before Starting Assignments
Have your learner review the directions for their assignments as soon as they sit down to start. This gives their brain a roadmap for the work ahead and that helps a ton with dedicated focus.
Who doesn’t like a reward? Have your student set up frequent rewards for themselves. Five minutes texting breaks after every 30 minutes of studying. A high five after completing an assignment. Earned time for video games. The ideas are endless!
5. The Alarm Start
Does your student have trouble getting started on their work? Agree to set a “Start alarm” to go off in 10 minutes. When that alarm goes off, we set aside what we were doing, come back to it as a reward if desired, and start our schoolwork.
These tips will help your student grow their focus. And from here, they can continue to strengthen the CEO of their brain.