Helping children obtain and master EF skills
At The Jones-Gordon School, one of our primary goals is to teach students to plan, prioritize and organize efficiently and effectively. We aim to prepare children for success not only academically, but for life!
According to Dr. Lynn Meltzer, leading executive function expert,
Some students acquire the necessary organizational skills to become successful, independent learners quickly and easily, while others need explicit teaching and more opportunities for practice.
In her book Promoting Executive Function in the Classroom, Dr. Meltzer suggests a number of ways EF strategies can be integrated. A few examples that The Jones-Gordon School employs:
- To aid in memorization: acronyms, mnemonics, and cartoons (especially for students with nonverbal strengths) to help students memorize information
- To enhance cognitive flexibility: riddles and jokes to encourage shifting between word meanings; use of graphic organizers in writing to make connections between ideas; previewing lessons and expectations
- For prioritizing: color-coding techniques, which can also increase comprehension and retention; students can highlight the most important ideas in a text in one color and details in another color, for example
- For study skills: Teaching how to study for different types of tests as well as different subjects
- To improve metacognitive thinking: Thinking about doing… “What is this math problem asking me to do? Does it look similar to something I’ve done before?”
In The Jones-Gordon School’s classrooms, we strive to apply basic instructional modifications to accommodate and enhance students’ executive function skills. For example, we keep our class sizes small (8 students maximum), use routine “cueing systems” such as simple checklists, assist students in breaking-up large assignments into smaller more manageable “chunks,” and provide immediate and positive feedback to students on their academic performance.
During the school day, we teach and practice EF skills such as note-taking strategies, time management techniques, test- taking skills, stress reduction methods, and learning style awareness, in isolation as well as within the context of the curriculum. In addition, we provide opportunities for one-on-one remediation of our students’ executive functioning weaknesses; each student receives a daily Tutorial hour, where instructors teach and reinforce study skills and organizational systems in addition to content support.
These are a few of the small but powerful ways we enable students to effectively develop and use essential executive function skills.