By Ginna Clute, Director of Educational Resource Program (ERP)
One of the challenges for many children with online learning is executive functions (EF). In general, executive functions refer to the cognitive components of planning, organization, attention, effort, emotion, and memory. Science tells us that our EF skills are not fully developed into our mid 20’s. How do we help our children with executive functioning skills during this remote learning period? One of the most important components, especially now, is planning and organization.
Planning and Organization
In order to plan to work and learn remotely, it is important to have a schedule for each day. In addition to helping with organization and planning, a schedule reduces stress and anxiety by establishing a routine and reduces the cognitive load put on working memory—key components of executive functions.
Creating a Schedule
Here are a few tips for creating a schedule for the first time or consider making adjustments to an existing one:
- Designate a specific time for learning, exercise, connecting with a friend or teacher, down time, and family time.
- Make sure you establish where each part of your day will occur.
--Since you are now turning your home into a school, office, and gym, it can get crowded. Make sure each family member has a space for school/work that is separate from where they can relax and spend time as a family.
--If at all possible, have your child’s schoolwork space outside of their bedroom. If you need to use the bedroom, make sure you have a space set up that is NOT their bed!
- Consider your child’s individual needs.
--Younger children may need shorter periods of work time and more frequent breaks.
--Some children need a very structured 30-minute interval schedule.
--Older children may be OK with a more general schedule.
- Determine whether you need a schedule within your daily schedule. This will help you when you need time alone to work and it helps your child with problem solving, effort, organization, and planning.
--Create a To Do list for all class assignments.
--Develop a weekly list of chores and post it in your home. When it is chore time your child can reference the list and pick what they would like to do instead of having to ask you.
--Make a list of activities such as sidewalk chalk, play basketball, dance party, or make a collage and post it so your child can pick their “free” time activity.
Below are several general examples of schedules, including daily To Do lists for the learning part of your child's day. Also refer to the ERP page on BucsNet for information, including other helpful resources.