A professional mandate pivotal to my work as an Executive Function Skills Coach which I have inherited from my educational background as a Special Educator, is the need to make any method, practice, and instructional approach I teach easy to follow. If I am to be effective in the transfer of my instructional execution and knowledge base to a parent, child, adolescent, or young adult I must make it practical, and easy to use. Otherwise, I would be spinning my wheels in the mud.
In order to sharpen and tone one's executive function skills the mode of production needs to be engaging, novel, fun, and be done repetitively. That is a tall order. How can you make something fun and novel, when you have to do it again and again, year after year? How can you find practical activities, tools, and strategies that directly buttress the strengthening of these skills, which are housed in your frontal lobe? This would entail a seismic shift within. Outlooks or mindsets would have to be changed, attitude would have to be re-calibrated. Can you do this? Do you know how to...self-actualize?
Arguably, their are thirty or so executive function skills that have been identified. Of these, the ability to self-monitor and have goal-directed persistence are key heavyweights that intertwine other executive function skills in what amounts to a harmonious ensemble of skills working together for the benefit of the human being. In order to establish an efficient system of operation, the clear understanding of metrics, or parameters by which to monitor and gauge oneself is required. Thus, I have come up with a set of these metrics for part of my work, and continue to consider new metrics for other areas I focus on. Just like in the world of business, metrics provide a data-gathering mechanism allowing for the coach, parent, or teacher to self-monitor their own progress. The metrics are also prompting tools which cue the parent, teacher to ask the right questions, for kids expect what we inspect. Asking pointed questions puts the lens on the parts of the system that are being most valued.
By being clear to yourself and to your child as to what is important to you day in and day out you provide these metrics, or parameters for your child to grow. It is sort of like a gardener pruning a hedge and caring for flower beds. The gardener knows that systematic pruning, weed-clearing, and other routine duties are needed for a garden to grow nicely. The gardener does not recreate the metrics by which to garden each time, but uses the same metrics. Depending on the type of garden different approaches can be employed while still using the same basic metrics. In an academic context for a child with say time management awareness, organizational, and start/ finish task concerns the use of a short and long-term planning ahead system, complete with various metrics, methods, and strategies, can change grade performance outcome in as little as the next quiz. Through experience, the mentoring of others, and my educational background I put together a 'beefed-up' 'to do list,' which IS a short-term planning ahead system, complete with four parameters that guide, prompt, and focus the 'doer' of the special list to manage their time, be aware of the passage of time, prioritize, and set real start times. Likewise, the use of long-term planning ahead systems usher in such strategies as 'frontloading' via the use of sequencing, foresight, pacing, and smart study skill tool usage.
Encouraging kids, and young adults to extrapolate my short-term planning ahead template by using the metrics within their own planner or assignment notebook instills a sense of taking ownership over a system which does not require 'rocket science' knowledge, but does require 'rocket-scientist' executive function skills.
A copy of this special EF to do list is re-tweeted monthly through Twitter. Simply look me up @coachbill007, or go to my website, www.coachbill.us and seek out the Twitter box in the 'about us' page. Scroll down to find the executive function to do list.
All said, though I have given a glimpse into the beginning mindset that parents must wrap their minds around. Instructional execution continues to be the 800 lb gorilla in the room. All the parameters in the world will be of no service if the metrics for your instructional execution are not present. To learn more about what kind of metrics are needed to successfully implement and continuously follow-up your own home executive function skills program please check back for future posts where I will discuss the pitfalls and 'catapults' that can streamline your approach and make it seem easy as one, two, three.
For more, go to http://www.CoachBill.US
For more, go to http://www.CoachBill.US