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Executive Functioning: What’s All the Buzz About?

  • Written by Submitted by Dr. Melodee Loshbaugh, Executive Director, Brock’s Academy

We’ve all known students (or are possibly raising one) who are constantly running late, can’t remember what or where their homework is, or do the assignments but then forget to turn them in. They just can’t seem to follow through on things unless someone takes them by the hand and guides them gently through the process. Often this is chalked up to laziness or carelessness, but researchers who study this behavior believe it has more to do with a child’s executive functioning skills. It is possible for a student to really be doing their best and still not succeed in school if they have executive functioning challenges.

Executive functioning (EF) is a term that describes a person’s ability to follow through on tasks and think and act independently. While all of us have these abilities in varying strengths, a person with executive functioning challenges seems unable to do them at an adequate level. These struggles can become major road blocks in a child’s educational journey if they are not addressed. Doctors Joyce Cooper-Kahn and Laurie Dietzel are authors on the subject. They have provided the following list of executive functions to help us understand the challenges people may face when they are lacking these skills.

What are Executive Functioning Skills?

Inhibition – The ability to stop a behavior, action or thought at the right time, or to prevent an impulsive action from taking place.

Shift – The ability to think flexibly and respond appropriately to different and changing situations.

Emotional Control – The ability to understand and engage appropriately in group dynamics, including waiting turns during conversations.

Initiation – The ability to begin a task and independently generate solutions, strategies and ideas.

Working Memory – The ability to remember short term information for the purpose of performing a task.

Planning/Organization –The ability to think a task through from beginning to end and plan for potential course changes.

Organization of Materials – The ability to organize work and living spaces to promote success.

Self-Monitoring – The ability to evaluate past personal experiences and decide if behavior changes should be made; seeking out additional resources or asking for help when needed.

What can parents do?

Children with executive functioning challenges do not always know the next logical step in a process. Clear, sequential instructions are often necessary to help them be successful. Here are some suggestions provided by the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

• Provide visual clues and review them frequently.

• Make use of planners and calendars; they reduce stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.

• Use both written and verbal instructions.

• Create a daily routine; familiarity makes things easier.

• Create “to do” lists to help students visualize and plan appropriately.

• Divide big assignments into smaller tasks and make use of timelines to stay on track.

• Keep clutter to a minimum.

• If possible, have different work areas for different activities; stock each area with its own set of supplies.

• Frequently consult your child’s teacher and possibly bring in an outside tutor/mentor to help them stay organized and focused on homework.

Resources:

What is Executive Functioning?

Executive Function Fact Sheet

Additional Suggested Book Resources:

Teaching Teens with ADD, ADHD & Executive Function Deficits

Late, Lost, and Unprepared

Learning to Love Math

  • Written by Submitted by Kumon

Nurturing your children to develop an appreciation of math can be a challenge; however, encouraging them to think about numbers every day may come a bit easier. It’s also a great way to lay the foundation for a love of learning math.

“Parents can incorporate problem solving math in the kitchen, in the car, while they’re grocery shopping,’’ said Lia Crawford, elementary mathematics supervisor for Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Florida. Give children confidence with the basics, she said, and they’ll fall in love with math – an attitude that serves as a building block for the rest of their education – and for much of life.

When you pay your bills online, buy shoes, measure distance or check the time, you’re using math. Here are a few useful tips to help get your children excited about math.

Be an example

Help your children improve their attitude toward math, by showing them that you are confident when completing routine tasks like counting money from a school fund-raiser, or completing your tax return.

Read books that incorporate math

More and more schools are starting to integrate diverse subject areas in the curriculum so students can make clearer connections between different subjects. One way is to have students read books in which the main characters solve a problem using math or logic. Examples include, One Hundred Hungry Ants by Ellinor J. Pinczes, The King’s Commissioners by Aileen Friedman and Socrates and the Three Little Pigs by Tuyosi Mori.

Use math every day

Encourage your children to solve problems involving math outside of school. In the grocery store, ask your children to figure out the price of four cans of tuna fish. In the car, ask them how long it will take to travel to your destination based on your speed.

We naturally encourage our children to read, write and speak outside of school, but often leave learning math skills to inside the classroom. Like everything else, your children’s skills and confidence in working with mathematical concepts will improve with daily practice, support and encouragement. Be sure to share your own tips with fellow parents and friends today.

What parents need to know about concussions

  • Written by BPT

BTP – Parents of young athletes know that along with the many benefits of participating in sports, there comes a certain amount of injury risk. As more evidence surfaces about long-term health challenges related to concussions, it’s especially crucial that parents bring themselves up to speed on the proper procedures for caring for an athlete who experiences a concussion.

The most important thing parents need to know about concussions is that if an athlete exhibits any signs or experiences any symptoms of a concussion, he or she should be immediately removed from play. While this recommendation is nothing new, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is again emphasizing its importance with the release of its updated 2013 sports concussion evidence-based guidelines.

For parents unfamiliar with concussion signs and symptoms, they include:

• Headache and sensitivity to light or sound

• Changes to balance, coordination and reaction time

• Changes in memory, judgment, speech and sleep

• Loss of consciousness or a “blackout” (happens in less than 10 percent of cases)

To view the entire AAN concussion report and find more concussion resources, visit www.aan.com/concussion.

Innovations inspire high school girls to become next generation of female innovators, change the world through STEM

  • Written by BPT

16951483_webWhen the high school class of 2014 graduates from college in five years, more than 8 million jobs will be available in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). For students today, STEM is their future.

Innovations driven by STEM are shaping today’s economy. Though STEM accounts for a majority of job growth in the U.S., the number of students enrolling in relevant degree programs in college to fill these positions continues to decline, leaving a gap of skilled professionals. Women, in particular, are underrepresented in STEM. While women account for nearly half of all filled jobs nationwide, only a quarter of STEM-related positions are held by women.

Even with the known gap, many women are pioneering the industry, showing young girls they too can be successful in STEM. They are leading the charge in bettering the world by developing innovations and technologies such as global, online crowd-sourcing platforms that allow supporters to give funds from mobile devices. Others are advancing alternative energy products that deliver electricity, water and other basic resources in developing countries.

To help bridge the gap and ready the next generation of women innovators, many organizations support initiatives to introduce students, specifically young girls, to the importance of STEM. DeVry University, for instance, has its annual HerWorld program.

“HerWorld was created 16 years ago to educate high school girls about STEM and careers in STEM,” says Donna Loraine, provost/vice president of Academic Affairs at DeVry University. “Our goal is to show girls how they can make a difference in the world through these fields.”

A recent study by the Girl Scout Research Institute found that more than 80 percent of high school girls surveyed expressed interest in considering a career in a STEM field, including engineering, information technology and software development. This is a positive outlook, as positions in STEM are becoming available more rapidly than opportunities in any other field.

HerWorld empowers young women to succeed alongside their male counterparts by participating in confidence-building activities and hands-on workshops. They also hear inspirational stories from real, female role models working in STEM fields.

This year, nearly 7,000 girls from high schools across the country will attend local events during National HerWorld Month in March. Emmy-Award nominated actress Mayim Bialik, renowned for her roles on television series Blossom and The Big Bang Theory, is partnering with DeVry University to further the mission of HerWorld and inspire these girls by sharing her personal STEM journey – balancing her acting career while earning her Doctorate of Philosophy degree in neuroscience from UCLA.

“When I was a teenager, my biology tutor on the set of Blossom inspired me to think about science in a way that showed me that science was made for girls, too,” says Bialik. “It gave me the confidence to pursue a degree in the sciences. I want to motivate and encourage girls to work hard to improve their math and science skills and their perceptions about those fields, regardless of their career goals.”

The conversation on giving: What is your family passionate about?

  • Written by BPT

(BPT) - How many times has your child come home with news of a new penny drive or fundraiser happening at school or a place of worship? How often does this come with an explanation of who the cause or charity serves and how else your child can get involved? Often, children are eager to get involved with these fundraising efforts because there are reward incentives at the end, but parents can take this opportunity to discuss with children the real value of supporting nonprofit organizations.

So what’s the best way to start this conversation with your kids? Find out what’s important to them. Everyone has a cause or charity that is close to their hearts. For your kids, was it helping that lost kitten found in the backyard that sparked their philanthropic passions? Was it when they spent the weekend helping grandma plant a garden? Was it helping mom clean out their toys and taking them to kids who had nothing to play with?

Nonprofit organizations span many different categories, such as arts, education, environment, animals, health and more. When children focus on things they find interesting, they’ll be more apt to stay with them. Whatever it is they are passionate and motivated about, you can help them make a positive impact in the community through giving. It’s important to let kids know that even little contributions can make a big difference. Below are tips to help you get your child engaged in giving:

• Learn what they love. Have a conversation with your children and ask them what they care about. Learning about their passions can help to motivate them and also help you find more ways to get them involved, such as volunteering.

• Make it a family affair. Include your children in your decision-making process, too, so that they can start to see that there is a clear and thoughtful manner in which you make contributions to charity.

• Acknowledge their good deed. Since children don’t get the tax deduction or other tangible benefits of giving that adults often receive, their reward is based on your words of encouragement and evidence of the impact they made. Let them know you’re proud of them and tell them exactly why, using specific examples.

• Make this an ongoing effort. There are many ways to get involved with a charity, so introduce children to other forms of donating besides monetary contributions, such as their time and talents. This can foster a lifelong joy of proactive giving. A good way to get involved this year is Georgia Gives Day, a 24-hour, “flash-mob style” statewide giving event. With the trend of 24-hour flash mob giving growing across states like Colorado, Texas, Washington, Alabama and Pennsylvania, these “days of giving” have raised millions of dollars, all going straight to local community nonprofits.

Visit www.GAgivesday.org to search and select the nonprofit or cause of your choice and make a donation via credit card.


GAgivesday.org makes donating easy for the community by organizing nonprofits on one easily accessible online platform and providing key facts about these charities. Every penny counts when giving back to nonprofits.