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Friday, October 31, 2014

How to Help Students Plan, Organize and Manage Time

Simple tasks such as using an agenda or turning in an assignment seems obvious to many, but for some young learners these tasks can be very difficult to master.  In fact, some students require comprehensive instruction and scaffolding to plan, manage time, and organize.  Executive functioning, which manages these skills, is the last part of the brain to fully develop, and in fact, it does not fully maturate until students reach their mid 20's. 

How Hard Can it Be to Plan, Manage Time and Organize?
When I first began working with students that struggled with executive functioning, I was astounded how challenging planning, time management and organization could be for some of my bright learners.  What seemed to be obvious was obscure and taxing for them. 

These Difficulties are Misunderstood:
Students that have difficulties with planning, time management and organization are often maltreated with discipline and erratic methods that result in poor grades. In addition, many of these students are told that they are unmotivated, lazy and careless.  What's more, these negative labels only worsen the problem by making the students' feel frustration, anger and even helplessness.  Acquiring accommodations for students that struggle with executive functioning is challenging, and now, with a multitude of technological tools at our fingertips, each teacher seems to have a unique way of communicating and collecting assignments.  As a result, this population of learners' need for consistency is neglected.

What are the Symptoms of an Executive Functioning Deficit?  
These students often:
1.   misplace materials.
2.   fail to turn in assignments.
3.   avoid things until the last minute.
4.   underestimate the time it takes to complete a task.
5.   fail to document homework in an agenda or planner.
6.   forget materials at school.
7.   forget materials at home.
8.   neglect to prepare for tests and quizzes.
9.   avoid planning and breaking down long-term assignments into manageable tasks.
10. fail to plan for midterms or finals.
11. forget important details.
12. miss important notes or directions.
13. lose mental stamina.
14. misplace materials.
15. rush through school work.

What can be Done to Assist these Students?
1.   maintain a structured, daily routine.
2.   make priorities.
3.   create a homework plan. 
4.   section large assignments into manageable chunks.
5.   generate a to do checklists.
6.   coach them on study skills.
7.   teach note-taking skills.
9.   demonstrate test-taking methods.
10. teach memory strategies.
11. offer incentives and positive reinforcement.  
12. use graphic organizers for writing.
13. teach metacognitive skills by thinking through a process aloud. 

Where Can I Get Ready Made Materials?
To learn about these strategies and more, I have created a publication on CD or digital download that offers materials that structure, guide, and support students in the areas of planning, time management, and organization.  This document includes agendas, questionnaires, checklists, and graphic organizers for writing and test preparation.  In addition, advice and materials are presented in the areas of math, reading, memory, motivation, setting priorities and creating incentives programs.  What’s more, the handouts are varied and accommodate learners of all ages from early elementary to college.  Finally, I offer a free sample assessment from the publication, as well as a free video on executive functioning.  Click Here  

Cheers, Erica
Dr.  Erica Warren, Learning Specialist and Educational Therapist

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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