Welcome to the “Navigating the Yearly Calendar” series! This is a monthly series where we will explore strategies and tools that intersect with the calendar and the rhythm of a school year.
There is a reason we as humans mark time. It is a vital part of our being that helps us make sense out of the world around us as well as our own existence. Marking time is not new; it dates back to the earliest of civilizations. However, in our fast-paced world, marking time can be complicated given all the simultaneous demands on our lives. Marking time has been further impacted by the COVID pandemic, during which, time as we know it, was disrupted. Even today, we are still grappling with the effects of this time disruption.
This series is designed as a reset of how we mark time as it relates to executive functioning skills. By looking at executive functioning on a monthly basis, we can help our children manage time, stuff, and information.
Executive Functioning in September:
September is the month when seeds for success are planted. Focus on implementing schedules and routines so that there can be predictability of weekly activities. The goal of the month is to immerse in the routine while keeping stress as low as possible.
From an executive functioning point of view, September is the month to intentionally work together with your child to know the weekly schedule and keep track of their learning materials.
Solidify the schedule. Fall is a time of excitement around returning to beloved activities. Take advantage of participation in these activities, especially after the last two years. At the same time, be mindful about overscheduling. A child may want many activities. However, scheduling too much during a week can lead to stress, both for the child and for the family. A general rule of thumb is only one afterschool activity per day (as opposed to 2 or 3). When making the schedule, it is important to consider a schedule which takes into account travel time, homework time, and daily downtime.
Start with support in place. If your child had support last year (therapy, tutoring, coaching) it is strongly suggested that the child start with the support in place. Taking a “wait and see approach” usually does not lead to good results and, again, can cause extra stress for all involved. Give your child the support they need to start the school year on the right foot. Adjustments can always be made along the way.
Location, location, location. Consider whether it is best for a child to do homework, reading, and studying in their room or in an area where a parent can be there to supervise and answer questions. Children with executive functioning difficulties may require extra time and support to get back into routines needed for academic success. Only you and your child can know what works best for home learning and review. September is a great month to test out the location in the home that will best suit everyone’s needs.
School supplies and their spots for success. Take some time to ensure that your child has the school supplies needed for success. Take into consideration your child’s specific needs:
- Do they need extra pencils, highlighters, or whiteboard markers? It can be stressful if the “one” highlighter can’t be found. Avoid the stress by having extra.
- Does your child need a heavy duty notebook or folder? Sometimes spending a bit extra for a reinforced noteboard or a plastic instead of a cardboard folder is worth it.
- Would you child benefit from having extra chargers or a charger station? Chargers that go from school to home and back can be lost, forgotten or damaged. There is much work done online and having no power on a device delays the start or finishing of academic tasks.
Revisit morning and evening routines. It is a good idea to consider what the morning and evening routine look like each year. Your child has grown older, and there may be adjustments that need to be made. In general, morning and evening routines that bring calm and comfort are best.
Things to consider with morning and evening routines include:
- When to decide upon the outfit of the day
- Ensuring there is daily time to unwind
- Creating and sticking to a technology shutdown time
- The timing of packing lunches/snacks, personal care, etc.
Wishing you a smooth month as you settle into the new school year and plant the seeds needed for success.