Executive Skills: Keys to Independent Learning (Grades 3 – 5)

download12Executive Skills are what help us, as human beings, to meet challenges and accomplish goals.  We can decide which  activities will get our attention and which activities we will choose to do.  We use these skills to delay immediate gratification in order to accomplish long-term goals.  Executive skills help us to plan, organize and manage our time and materials.  Working Memory is an executive skill that helps us hold information in our mind while performing complicated tasks.  Working Memory also includes drawing on past experience to apply to a present problem or to project that learning onto strategies for the future.  The ability to stand back and monitor your own behavior and actions is an executive skill – it help us to ask, “How am I doing?”  “What worked?”

Executive skills enable us to think before acting, regulate our emotions, begin work without homeguides_articles_thumbs_10_ways_parents_trick_cover.jpg.600x275_q85_cropprocrastination, revise plans that don’t work and persist until the goal is achieved.

There is a parallel between the development of the brain and development of a child’s ability to act, think and feel.  This is important in understanding how a child’s executive skills develop.  Although the Pre-frontal Cortex makes up the neurological base for executive skills, other parts of the brain are involved as well.  The Pre-frontal Cortex, the last area to fully develop in late adolescence, is the final common path for managing information and behavior.

How do you teach young children executive skills?  What should they be able to do and when should they be able to do it?

You can help your child in Grades 3 – 5   by asking him/her to:

  • Run errands (time delayed like remembering to do something after school)
  • Tidy bedroom or playroom (May include vacuuming and dusting)
  • Perform chores that take 15-30 minutes (Clean up after dinner, Rake leaves)
  • Bring books, papers, assignments to and from school
  • Complete Homework Assignments (1 hour MAXIMUM)
  • Plan simple school projects such as book reports (Choose book, Read book, Write report)
  • Keep track of changing daily schedule (different activities after school)
  • Save money, plan how to earn money
  • Inhibit/self-regulate:  Behave when teacher is out of room, Good manners, Don’t make rude comments
Advertisements
Posted in Cogmed, Executive Skills, parenting, School Success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Executive Skills: Keys to Independent Learning (Preschooler-Grade 2)

Henry-PBJ-2Executive Skills are what help us, as human beings, to meet challenges and accomplish goals.  We can decide which  activities will get our attention and which activities we will choose to do.  We use these skills to delay immediate gratification in order to accomplish long-term goals.  Executive skills help us to plan, organize and manage our time and materials.  Working Memory is an executive skill that helps us hold information in our mind while performing complicated tasks.  Working Memory also includes drawing on past experience to apply to a present problem or to project that learning onto strategies for the future.  The ability to stand back and monitor your own behavior and actions is an executive skill – it help us to ask, “How am I doing?”  “What worked?”

Executive skills enable us to think before acting, regulate our emotions, begin work without procrastination, revise plans that don’t work and persist until the goal is achieved.

There is a parallel between the development of the brain and development of a child’s ability to act, think and feel.  This is important in understanding how a child’s executive skills develop.  Although the Pre-frontal Cortex makes up the neurological base for executive skills, other parts of the brain are involved as well.  The Pre-frontal Cortex, the last area to fully develop in late adolescence, is the final common path for managing information and behavior.

How do you teach young children executive skills?  What should they be able to do and when should they be able to do it?

You can help your preschooler by asking him/her to:

  • Run simple errands. (“Get your shoes from the bedroom.”)
  • Tidy up the room with assistance
  • Complete simple chores and self-help tasks with reminders (Brush teeth, Get dressed)
  • Inhibit Behaviors (Don’t touch the hot stove, Don’t run into the street, Don’t hit)

You can help your Kindergartner to Second Grader:

  • Asking them to run errands with two or three steps (Go get the towels off the floor and put them in the hamper)
  • Tidy the playroom or bedroom
  • Perform simple chores – Make the bed
  • Bring papers to and from School
  • Complete Homework (20 Minutes MAXIMUM)
  • Decide how to Spend Money – Allowance
  • Inhibit Behaviors (Follow Safety Rules, Raise Your Hand before Speaking in Class, Keep Hands to Yourself.

Stay tune for the keys of independent learning for grades 3-5

 

Posted in Executive Skills, parenting, School Success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Gifted or a High Achiever – What’s the Difference?

gifted cartoon

Often parents come for an evaluation thinking perhaps their child is Gifted. Of course, here at TPS we believe that EVERY child IS Gifted in their own way. Our academic culture has narrowly defined a Gifted child as one who has a Full Scale IQ Score above a Standard Score of 130 placing them in the top 2% of the population.
Some children in a classroom may be referred for Gifted evaluation, but they don’t make the cut off number to go on for further evaluation or for staffing into the Gifted program. How can that be? Wouldn’t a teacher know? Doesn’t the Straight “A”s indicate a Gifted child? Not all the time…. a child may be a High Achiever and not necessarily have that High FSIQ score. On the Other hand, a student perceived as unmotivated and sometimes even a behavior problem may actually be the Gifted individual. What’s the difference? Glad you asked…..

High Achieving Students generally:

  • Listen and follow directions for work
  • Want to know HOW something is done
  • Know the rules and follow then
  • Get good grades and do well on standardized tests
  • Are interested in facts and knowledge for their own sake
  • Like to know and understand
  • Like to produce

Gifted Students generally:

  • Prefer to make up their own learning tasks
  • Want to know WHY something is being done
  • Question the rules and prefer choices
  • May actually get lower grades than the high achiever, and yet score extremely high on standardized tests
  • Like to use facts and information to “do something else” – sometimes other than what the group leader or teacher has planned
  • Like to compare, imagine, and evaluate – not just know and understand
  • Like to create
  • Sometimes resist direction and omit details
  • Become frustrated by routine
  • Resist interruption and need freedom of movement and action

It can be difficult to tell the discern who is Gifted and who is a High Achiever.  High Achievers usually have an easier time in school.  They are well liked by teachers and learn to work hard for their grades.  Gifted students, even when identified, sometimes have unique social and behavioral challenges.  Also, they often miss out of learning good work habits because everything comes easily to them – they can skate through elementary school without doing daily work.  They always come through on tests or pull out the grade at the last minute.  Sadly, this catches up by the end of middle or start of high school.

A good rule if you are unsure is to get an evaluation for the information and pattern of strengths and weaknesses.  If you only get the evaluation to see whether a child qualifies for a Gifted label, you are missing the point.  They are ALL GIFTED and you want to know how to help them succeed whatever the FSIQ number.

Posted in Gifed & Talented, parenting, School Success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 of the Best Homework STUDY TIME Tips: Stop fighting the Homework Wars

 

In my experience, homework is one of the biggest daily argument starters in many families.  Some kids with well-developed executive skills come home, have a break, get to work and get it done.  These CalvinHomeworkare the same kids who know where they put it and remember to take it to school.  It takes self-discipline, initiation, planning, perseverance, self-monitoring and working memory to write it down, bring it home, get to work, finish it and then pack it away to take back to school.  Not your kid?  You are not alone, but you can solve this with a little practice and a shift in thinking.

1. It is STUDY TIME not just for homework.  If you call it homework, your child may get in the habit of saying,”We don’t have any homework,” and then proceed to go online or outside to play.  Whereas you always have Study Time to use for homework, studying, reading or practicing an academic skill.  STUDY TIME happens (as much as possible) at the same time and in the same place every day.

2.  HOW LONG should STUDY TIME last?  Here’s the rule of thumb – 10 minutes per grade level, per day, five days a week.  for example: Grade 9 = 90 minutes of study time per day.

3.  STUDY TIME  should be BROKEN INTO BLOCKS

  • Primary Grades = 10 – 15 minutes per block (Grade 3 :  Study 15/break 10/ Study 15)
  • Upper Elementary = 20 minutes (Grade 5:  Study 20/break 10/Study 20/break 10/Study 10)
  • Middle / High School = 25 – 35 minutes(Grade 9: Study 30/break 10/ Study 30/break 10/Study 30)
  • College adults = 45 minutes

4.  Make it a habit to keep and check a DAILY SCHEDULE  a WEEKLY PLANNER  and a WALL CALENDAR.

5. Teach you child to TAKE CHARGE OF HIS/HER OWN STUDY TIME

  • Set an alarm on your phone to be at your desk at study time
  • Keep all breaks to 10 minutes (no more/no less)
  • DO NOT DEPEND ON A REMINDER FROM ANYONE

That’s a start for the year!  Next we will do boundaries and scheduling for busy families.

 

Posted in Executive Skills, School Success | Leave a comment

Jason Steps Up: Cogmed for Adults Chapter 4

Once again Jason was right on time for his call.  Once again he improved.  His overall Cognitive Performance Index (CPI) was 79 with Working memory    Following Instructions and Math Challenge men-stairs-success-11483356(His beginning CPI was 24, WOW!)   What was more interesting and encouraging to me was that this time Jason knew WHY he improved.  He began articulating strategies.  You remember that Jason has been improving right along, but always attributed it to having been “really bad” in the beginning or simply “luck.”  We talked about the Learned Helplessness phenomenon in chapter 2 of Jason’s story.  It seemed that Jason was overcoming learned helplessness.  Why would that happen? Remember the phenomenon and the early experiments.  You recall that even when the barrier was eliminated, the dogs simply stayed and endured the shock.  The experimenters began physically moving the dogs over to the safe area to show them they could avoid the shock.  It actually took 26 – 30 repetitions of moving away from the shock that the dogs started to move on their own. Cogmed forces repetition.  The protocol is 30- 45 minutes a day 5 days a week for 5 weeks. By the 4th week, Jason had successfully completed 20 sessions of training.  He had done many more than 25 exercises of adaptive training.  Each training forcing him to perform at ever higher levels.  In a less structured program, Jason may have improved, and then stopped working quite so hard as time went on.  He might have gotten bored and only done 10 minutes a day or skipped a few sessions.  Cogmed gives immediate feedback and you know the coach is watching your progress.  You also know that once a week you will be reviewing the progress so you keep working.  Eventually, the training is intrinsically rewarding.  You might not want to sit down every day, but like a physical exercise program, you know you will feel better (and think better) once you have trained for the day.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jason Perseveres: Cogmed for Adults Chapter 3

keep-calm-and-persevereJason was right on time for his third coach call. I had gone through all of his trainings from the past week, and clearly he was “in the groove.” His overall CPI (Cognitive Performance Index) had again improved in all three areas. The areas are Working Memory, Following Instructions, and the Math Challenge. If you remember last week, Jason had put his improvement down to having be very bad at the start. We talked about the “Learned Helpless” phenomenon. This week he still wasn’t quite convinced that it was hard work and keeping to the training schedule that was driving the progress, but he was more open to the idea.
This call Jason was much more aware of what he was doing that made for differences in performance. He made comments that doing the difficult exercises first didn’t work for him. He put them in the middle so he had time to warm up.
He also moved his training time to a little earlier in the afternoon since he was more likely to be interrupted later in the day. The fact that he made decisions to take charge of his own training schedule is, in my mind, monumental. Passively accepting things and just doing whatever get put in front of you never seems to improve performance or self-esteem. It make us feel helpless and hopeless which leads to low motivation and low effort and ultimately to failure.

Jason is part of the “20 something” group of young individuals.  This is a group that appears to be unable to grow up.  They move back in with their parents, they start and drop out of different schools, they start and lose interest in jobs, they seem unable to commit to anything much less persevere.  This was written about in a New York Times article title “What is it about 20 Somethings”  The article by Robin Marantz Henig published in August of 2012 states:

“The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain un­tethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, traveling, avoiding commitments, competing ferociously for unpaid internships or temporary (and often grueling) Teach for America jobs, forestalling the beginning of adult life.”

Is Cogmed the answer to this conundrum?  Of course not, this is too complex and must ask questions about  neurodevelopment, neurobiology, societal pressures, parenting, education – cutting across psychology, education, sociology, political considerations, and culture.  However, Cogmed IS helping Jason take ownership of his training and seeing improvement as a result of his efforts.  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

 

Posted in Adult Learners, Cogmed, Executive Skills, Uncategorized, Working Memory & Attention | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jason’s Story: Chapter 2

I was excited (and a little nervous) to see Jason’s results from the first week of training on Cogmed. I was encouraged to see that he had completed 30 – 45 minutes a day in training.  He reported that he found the training difficult – especially on the exercises that rotate.  However, the technology was no problem, and he liked the structure.

All well and good, but was he improving.  His overall Index showed improvement.   Working Memory and the Math Challenge both  showed some improvements, but not as much as the improvement in Following Instructions.  He had improved  46%.  I mentioned the 46% improvement to Jason, and his comment was interesting.  He said, “I must have been really bad when I took the first tests!”  I think he was joking, but a little bit serious as well.  I started to wonder whether all people who struggle with attention and working memory get to a point when they put all their success down to “dumb luck” or each improvement to having been “really bad” to start out.

One of the most tragic results of learning problems that are undiagnosed or never addressed is a phenomenon known as “Learned Helplessness.”  When 3 set of children (identified and “gifted,” “normal,” and “learning disabled”) were given a set of puzzles that were impossible to solve, they all reacted differently.  The “normal” group worked for awhile – a reasonable amount of time- and then stopped.  Once they had stopped and rested, they went back and worked off and on until the time elapsed.  The “gifted” kids did not stop working until time was up, and even tried to get “just another minute” after time was called.  The kids identified as “learning disabled” took a look at the puzzles and quit.  Some did a quick “Christmas tree” and put their pencils down.  They spent the rest of the time looking around the room waiting for the time to run out. Others didn’t even try – just put their pencils down and waited.  Here’s a video about it – ENJOY!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment