What ends up happening, as the parent, is we take care of these multi-step tasks for our children (adolescents and young adults) to minimize the distress, anxiety, frustration and anxiety that they end up feeling. We ‘fix’ it for our children without realizing that we are , indeed, leaving our kids unequipped for life’s demands to be able to manage time, plan ahead, organize life and school’s materials amongst the many other Executive Functioning skills we need to develop in order to manage our lives.
As an Executive Functioning Coach, I’m going to share with you the tools that I use with my students and my very own children to help build the skills needed to manage school and life tasks. Here are a few of my favorite tools to help students to begin a task (initiation), manage time and maintain attention in order to complete a task (sustained attention).
All of these items can conveniently found on Amazon (feel free to click on the link below):
Does your child, adolescent or young adult have a hard time getting out the door each day? For the time challenged, the Time Timer can help get you out the door on time!
Set the Time Timer a minimum of 20 minutes before you have to leave, place it in a prominent place, and the visual nature of this timer will let you see exactly how much time you have left before it’s time to leave.
This tool is also helpful for completing homework assignments or for studying for tests. Set the timer for the duration of your attention span and complete homework assignments or studying for an upcoming test or quiz. Whether 30, 45 or 60 minutes, once that timer rings, stop and take a break. Set the timer again for 5, 10 or 15 minutes so that break time doesn’t extend for too long.
For many students, sitting down to complete homework or study for an undefined amount of time can be discouraging and overwhelming. Setting this timer will keep the amount of working time finite and do-able. Feel free to set the timer when taking a shower, tidying up their living space.
A similar option as The Time Timer is the Time Cube. You can set a start time and an end time. You can flip the cube over and set another timer that can be used to take a break. It’s simple, concrete and tangible!
Your child can set the timer and then use the time to focus on one activity at a time. This allows for your student to also divide their work and breaks into manageable time, which is helping to develop your child’s sense of time, prioritizarion, and planning ahead. The cube has 4 different time options that can be used.
Simple but practical is the desk calendar that we all know and have seen over many years. The benefit of desk calendar is the ability to look ahead easily as well as being able to visually see time while you plaing your long-term assignments.
For example, your student can write down the due date of a test or project and then work backwards. That is, he may want to plan how many days an assignment will take to complete by breaking it down into smaller assignments. He can then take the number of smaller assignments and ‘assign’ himself one task per day. Break the assignment up into clear and manageable tasks to start and finish your assignment makes long term or multi step assignments that may initially seem daunting feel doable!
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