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Why Executive Functioning Skills are Imperative for School and Life [Podcast]

Executive functioning skills play a main role in time management, organization, and effective planning. It's important to start developing these skills at a young age, as children will use executive functioning abilities for the rest of their lives. Tutor Doctor has some great tips to help parents work with their kids to hone these vital skills.

Tutor Doctor's X-Skills program, developed by our very own Bob Rosedale, was specifically designed to address the development of executive functioning skills. Tutor Doctor's unique approach of placing priorities on certain assignments (we call them Alpha Tasks and Beta Tasks) has dramatically helped many of our students keep their assignments in check – and raise their grades in the process.

“[Executive functions] are the skills that allow us to organize our life,” explains Bob. “As a group, these are skills that allow us to function effectively when we have multiple tasks that we need to accomplish.” Students are expected to juggle several classes at once, each with different deadlines, assignments, and important dates. Being able to stay organized is absolutely critical – so much so that many students' slipping grades are often due to a lack of executive functioning skills, rather than academic difficulties.

“There's really two components to academic success,” Bob adds. “The first component is academic knowledge...the second is academic discipline.” This is a common sentiment we hear from many of the parents we work with – they know their kids can do the work, but their grades aren't reflecting that. A student may be completely proficient academically, but has low grades because assignments aren't being turned in on time. Executive functions are what help students to develop proper time management skills, and this is especially important for larger projects or assignments.

One of the main goals of our X-Skills program is to help students identify areas where they might struggle ahead of time. When setting up the steps to reach an academic goal, we want our students to be aware of certain areas that may require extra attention or planning. If a certain math test is going to focus on a topic the student finds particularly difficult, we should arrange their schedule to allow extra time to be devoted to studying for this class. As adults, we do this sort of “obstacle prediction” all the time – if we have to be somewhere at 6 o'clock sharp, leaving 30 minutes early to account for rush hour traffic might be a good idea.

Bob continues, “One of the things many students don't think about is, 'what are the obstacles that are going to prevent me from being successful?'” A core goal of executive functioning is planning for unexpected challenges, but also developing the problem-solving skills required to overcome them.

We all want our children to achieve their goals, and having trained executive functioning skills are what allows them to plan out the steps to get there. Tutor Doctor's goal is always to help students experience academic success, and we believe our X-Skills program provides the tools students need to practice and master their time management and organizational skills.

“[Executive functioning] skills can be taught and developed, and structure can be put in place. But, it has to be done with purpose,” affirms Bob. “It has to be focused on goals, and being able to prioritize which steps lead to those goals.”

For more information about this topic, click here to listen to our podcast episode "Why Why Executive Functioning Skills are Imperative for School and Life."