Phone: (781) 659-0513
Email: info@thinkinganddoingskillscenter.com
Address: 11C Whiting Street – Hingham, MA 02043
Summer Fun to Build Executive Function Skills

Summer Fun to Build Executive Function Skills

Summer’s here and the learning never stops! Sure no one wants to even think about school during July and August. I understand that. But if your son or daughter struggles in school with organization, planning or focusing long enough to get through homework, then you might want to build some of their executive function skills this summer while having some fun. Below are three executive function skills with some activities you can do to strengthen them. Once you start to see your child/teen improving you’ll want to be sure they “transfer” their learning to school and their life by asking questions such as: “How might a stronger memory help in school?” or “What a fun day. Your plan was organized and we had everything we needed. Can you think of any other ways that great planning might be helpful?” Don’t forget to mention whenever you use planning, or working memory strategies so that your son or daughter sees that those skills are used every day. According to Bloom’s new hierarchy of skills the first step is the ability to remember. Working memory has been defined as being able to hold onto information long enough to use and/or manipulate it. For example, understanding the rules of a new game and being able to play it while keeping track of other players’ moves uses the working memory. Here are some ideas to increase working memory skills during the summer: Write it down! Use a planner, smartphone app (Google Calendar, Color note, Evernote, Remember the Milk, Hiveminder, etc.), or notepad to keep track of events, vacation, etc. so you don’t overburden your working memory. Practice...
Helping or Hurting? The Dilemma of Enabling vs. Empowering

Helping or Hurting? The Dilemma of Enabling vs. Empowering

We all want our children to grow up to be responsible, successful members of society. Isn’t that what you want for your child? So we “help” them at every turn so that they can make it to school on time, complete their homework perfectly, and get good grades. But are you really helping or are you hurting them? Let me explain. If your child or teen has ADHD/ADD then you know that they struggle with routines, focus and remembering what they need to do as well as, doing what they know they need to do. You may feel that if you don’t remind your teen then they would never get out the door in the morning or finish their homework. And you may be right. However, providing them with the information they need before they have had time to consider what comes next does not help them develop the necessary skills to become independent instead it makes them dependent. Think about these questions: Are you helping your son or daughter create a routine to get out the door (with everything they need) or are you telling them what to do each day? (Ex. get your shoes on, did you brush your teeth, do you have your homework? And on and on.) Are you empathizing and really trying to understand what they are feeling or are you just trying to solve their problem by telling them what they “should” do? Are you checking their homework and making them correct it so that the teacher doesn’t know that they are struggling with it? Are you reminding them of everything they have...
What is Executive Function?

What is Executive Function?

Executive dysfunction or executive function deficit is defined by Web MD as a “set of mental skills that help you get things done.” It is a simplified definition but when you break a task down into all the components needed to complete it, it is easier to see how having one or more weak areas can stop the progress. Just take a look at the processes and skills that are needed for “thinking” in the graphic to the left. That does not take into account the other skills needed to actually get something done. These executive function skills develop in the prefrontal cortex of the brain which continues to develop until around age 25. However, these skills seem to be really important during the teen age years, yet are not quite developed enough to be depended upon. Executive function skills help you: Manage time and be realistic about what you can and cannot do in the time available Regulate your emotions and behaviors to avoid saying or doing the wrong thing Determine what you should pay attention to and what you should not Switch focus based on the feedback you receive about the effectiveness of what you are doing Plan and organize in a logical, methodical way to complete tasks and thoughts. Remember what you need to remember at the right time Allows you to make decisions based on your past experiences and avoid repeating your mistakes In school, executive dysfunction can look like missing homework, forgetting to study for tests, doing poorly, spending hours on homework, or not being able to find things they know they have. One...
Home from College – Deja-Vu All Over Again

Home from College – Deja-Vu All Over Again

Has your son or daughter arrived home from college for the summer and quickly slipped right back into their “old” high school ways? Down deep you know they have matured because they made it through on their own this past year. They know they have grown too, but something about returning home can sometimes set them back. To avoid a “deja-vu” experience, try these five tips to helping your student continue on the path to maturity. Don’t worry it doesn’t mean they don’t need you just as much; it’s just in a different way. 1. You haven’t really seen their new maturity in action and your old habits can often get in the way. Don’t assume they are the same person they were when they left last fall and try to encourage that new maturity to come out. 2. Set some structure to the summer….it doesn’t have to be boot camp structure but giving them some responsibilities is a good thing. Just remember to get their input before “assigning” jobs. Review and adapt household rules that fit that new maturity. 3. Respect their schedule and their privacy. Treat them as the college student they are and not the high schooler they were. 4. If you want to encourage communication and/or keep those lines open then don’t multitask when you get them alone. Stay off the cellphone and really listen to what they have to say. Just be aware that they may not be into sharing at all. 5. Don’t solve their problems, they just want to be “heard” they don’t need you to solve things for them. After all,...
Goal Setting for Teens IV

Goal Setting for Teens IV

Now that you have separated your goals into actionable steps and put them in your calendar, it is time to add in some reinforcement to help you succeed (please see previous posts). We all know how hard it is to start a new habit and maintain it. Sheer willpower does not work! You have probably heard the saying that it takes 21 days to change a habit. Writing down your action steps are the first step but that does not guarantee that when the time comes you will do it.  I think that by leveraging your environment you can increase your consistency and create a new habit in less time. By leveraging your environment you can reinforce the habit you want to establish. The physical aspect of leveraging the environment would be putting things in place that would serve as reminders for the action you want to take. Reminder cards on your bedroom door, signs in the bathroom, or moving furniture around to better support your new habit are all examples of ways to use the environment to help you. You can color code your calendar or create a vision board that shows you and your life with your new habits established. You can also link a new habit to something you automatically do now. For instance if your morning routine of getting ready for school is the same each day then you could link your new habit to some part of that routine that is already automatic. For example if brushing your teeth is automatic, you could review flashcards for those two minutes. By hooking something new to...