Executive Functioning and Supportive Environments
Executive Functioning is so critical for everyday life that it's often treated as the default way humans operate. In reality, each and every one of us has to learn the skills of Executive Functioning to manage many tasks we encounter every day. Understanding this learning process is essential for addressing Executive Functioning Deficits (EFD).
The Importance of a Supportive Environment
Research shows that EFD is a combination of genetic and environmental development. Teaching Executive Functioning skills is often taken for granted - we just assume students will pick it up from their parents or teachers. Sometimes it can be picked up quickly. Other times, it needs to be taught and practiced deliberately. Students with ADHD face additional challenges - even in supportive environments. A lack of focus and attention can make simple tasks difficult. This can create a negative feedback loop, where a child becomes more stressed, which further reduces the ability to focus. The best systems for addressing EFD focus on addressing the neurological component (potentially with medication or other interventions) and the environmental component. They provide supportive environments. A supportive environment is where the expectations are practice - not success. Failure is a part of any learning process and EF is no different. Unrealistic expectations of success can increase a student's EFD. Faced with failure, a student that hasn't been made to feel that practice itself is progress will feel more negatively towards a task. This negativity will decrease the ability to break down tasks and focus. This is a delicate balance to reach, but many students acquire these skills in supportive environments with mentors that set expectations of practice, rather than success. To read more about best practices, check out this article in ADDitude magazine.
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