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Executive Functioning Skills - Is it too late to help?

jazzymomof7jazzymomof7 Registered User Posts: 259 Junior Member
edited May 14 in Parents Forum
DS19 is homeschooled, and though he has no trouble academically, he has relied on me to plan his weekly schedule. (I don’t think this is a homeschool issue, though, because my next 2 kids in line don’t need any help with planning/scheduling/organization.)

Last semester, ds took 2 dual credit courses (plus a few at home courses) and did well. This semester, he took 3 dual credit courses (plus at home stuff).

He did all the studying and coursework on his own, but I kept helping plan his weekly schedule and gave him reminders about little things. Around spring break, I started telling him how to plan his own schedule and backed off the reminding because I know he’ll have to do it on his own this fall.

His grades took a dive from 2 A’s and a B to 1 A, 1 B, 1 C.

He was doing things like finishing homework in time but not getting it turned in, losing homework, writing an A paper that became a C due to no works cited, forgetting to bring a calculator to a chem test, etc. I told him repeatedly over the past few weeks to check his syllabi and make notes of all assignments, due dates, and tests. Monday, he almost missed a final. A friend texted him, and he was able to get there in time to finish, but was 30 min late.

Last night, he came to tell me how disappointed he was with his performance and said he hoped he could learn to be organized. I asked him if he thought he needed another year of community college, and he said no.

I think he can get his act together, but I’m wondering if any of you know of any books or strategies I could pass along to help prepare him.

I never had trouble staying organized as a student, and my next 2 kids in line don’t have an issue with it either, so it’s hard for me to understand why ds struggles so much with this.
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Replies to: Executive Functioning Skills - Is it too late to help?

  • bopperbopper Forum Champion CWRU Posts: 13,714 Forum Champion
    Maybe he isn't ready to take the training wheels off...maybe he needs more support at college...e.g., https://www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/ssp/
  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 24,196 Forum Champion
    edited May 14
    It is definitely not too late to improve on these skills. A couple of things my kids did to keep organized included:

    Calendar/Planner -- writing in deadlines, exams, homework etc. as well as social events. Both kids used this planner throughout college as there is plenty of space to write things down. https://www.ataglance.com/ataglance/browse/product?prodId=AY44 Your S might also create a monthly calendar to keep an eye on long term things as well -- you can get one to put on a desk which doubles as a blotter - for example: https://www.staples.com/desk+blotter+calendar/directory_desk+blotter+calendar

    Color coding - my kids used 1 inch binders for each subject. Different colors for each subject with a folder in the same color. It helped them keep notes/papers/handouts in one place.

    Handling long term assignments/large exams - Learning to create a timetable with interim goals/deadlines so all the work isn't left until the last minute.
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Super Moderator Posts: 36,348 Super Moderator
    That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week: Helping Disorganized and Distracted Boys Succeed in School and Life
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HTK8DYO/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
  • overbearingmomoverbearingmom Registered User Posts: 157 Junior Member
    Not all colleges expect great executive functioning, though I do think that it is not too late to continue working with him, and I plan on working with my son this summer after his freshman year. The other thing is, for my son, he had support, but within a few weeks, he was organizing at least his assignments and thinking ahead to what was due. I'm not sure of his methodology. He's across the country from me, so he by definition had to. As you see from my username, it's not easy for me to let go, but it has been so good for him.

    Is he on the spectrum? As previous poster mentioned, there is support at RIT, University of Denver, U of A and other schools. My son is at UCONN. You just need to google for either university support on the spectrum or executive functioning support to see which colleges may be a good fit, and an achievable school for him.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 5,216 Senior Member
    Seconding That Crumpled Paper....

    Good strategies for students and their parents..
  • jazzymomof7jazzymomof7 Registered User Posts: 259 Junior Member
    @overbearingmom He’s not on the spectrum. No special needs that we’re aware of. He is headed to UT Austin this fall. I need to find out what kind of support they have available.
  • taverngirltaverngirl Registered User Posts: 708 Member
    My son (finishing junior year) is doing executive functioning coaching via Skype. They are working with him on both academics and non academic stuff. He has ADHD diagnosis, though only recently diagnosed, and Interestingly I homeschooled through 7th. Wondering if part of the issue is because he never had to use those skills really until high school (though my daughter never had any issues and I homeschooled her as well). I never thought about the possible relationship. Anyway, if the books above don't work (they didn't for me - my son wasn't super receptive to my help) you could look into the coaching. It's only been about a month, but it does appear to be helping.
  • jazzymomof7jazzymomof7 Registered User Posts: 259 Junior Member
    @Cardinal Fang I didn’t mean it in terms of, “I can be organized, why can’t he?” I meant it in terms of, “I don’t understand why he struggles, so I am not able to help him effectively.”

    For instance, at the beginning of the semester, I got 3 spiral notebooks with pockets and labeled them for his 3 classes. I couldn’t figure out why chemistry notes were mixed up in the notebook labeled comp 2.

    Or when I ask him why he has a zero on a homework, and he says he had it done in time but didn’t get it turned in, I get confused as to how that happens. I know he did the work, but he can’t explain how it didn’t get turned in, and since I don’t understand, I don’t know how to help him fix it.

    I feel that if I better understood why this is hard for him, maybe I could help him come up with some strategies that work.
  • jazzymomof7jazzymomof7 Registered User Posts: 259 Junior Member
    edited May 14
    @taverngirl I wonder about the homeschooling aspect, too. I think having more outside accountability a bit sooner might have forced him to work on these skills a little more.

    DS was not open to my helping him learn to be organized until he saw the effect on his grades when I stopped helping him with planning and organization. Now, he is at least motivated to learn.

    Coaching might be helpful to him. Thanks for the suggestion.
  • ultimomultimom Registered User Posts: 92 Junior Member
    My kids started using agendas at school in third grade. Teaching executive function was part of the curriculum. Teachers would make sure students had time to write down their assignments. Kids were also coached on different strategies for organizing notebooks. By middle school, students were able to access assignments online. Then, by high school, you are on your own.
  • Acadia2023Acadia2023 Registered User Posts: 21 Junior Member
    Many schools offer assistance in this area - even if you're not on the spectrum/don't have a diagnosis showing need. Search school websites carefully and you may find that helpful services are available even at schools that don't have programs specifically geared for this. A friend of our family was an athlete at a relatively small LAC. Was overwhelmed his freshman year - trying to keep himself organized. He made arrangements to meet with someone (weekly) in the school's academic support ctr, and used the time to go over everything he needed to get done in the coming week. It was a lifesaver and he graduated la few days ago.
  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang Registered User Posts: 18,181 Senior Member
    For instance, at the beginning of the semester, I got 3 spiral notebooks with pockets and labeled them for his 3 classes. I couldn’t figure out why chemistry notes were mixed up in the notebook labeled comp 2.

    Imagine that he has to hold in his mind that he needs to start taking notes now, and that he has to find the right notebook to take those notes. But he can't hold those two ideas in his mind at one time.
    Or when I ask him why he has a zero on a homework, and he says he had it done in time but didn’t get it turned in, I get confused as to how that happens.

    Because he forgot. Because he can't hold a lot of ideas in his mind at the same time. You can. But he can't. You can keep track of a lot of things at the same time, but he can't. (And let me tell you, it's a lot worse to be a woman than a man with this disability, because we're expected to multitask a lot more than men are.)
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