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Navigating the Yearly Calendar: Executive Functioning in April

Welcome to “Navigating the Yearly Calendar!” This is a monthly series where we will explore strategies and tools that intersect with the calendar and rhythm of the 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 learning 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.

Let’s begin…

Executive Functioning in April: 

The month of April is a time of school breaks for many schools. This is a good thing! For educators, parents, and students, this is a welcome and much needed activity after the intense middle of the school year months. The break in April also serves an additional purpose which is to allow everyone a break from the school routine so that they can return with adequate energy and focus to finish out the school year.

From an executive functioning point of view, April is a month which allows for a reminder of the value of breaks from the school routine. 

The executive functioning goal of April, especially when there is school vacation, is to renew and recharge energy for the final push through the end of the school year. 

Here’s a list of things to consider in the month of April:

  1. Go through school supplies to determine what needs to be replenished. It is hard to finish the school year successfully with broken pens, pencils with no erasers, and highlighters/whiteboard markers that have run out of ink. Invest in new supplies; many are even on sale at this point in the year. Bonus: Check the printer to see if new toner or ink cartridges are needed, and buy some batteries!
  1. Go through backpacks. Backpacks, even if they are cleaned out on a regular basis, need to be emptied and their contents checked. Focus on whether homework folders need to be replaced, if reading books need to be taken out because they have already been read, and replenish paper and pencils/pens.
  1. File Papers. The general rule is that all assignments are kept throughout the school year. Even though many schools use digital assignments, there is a return to paper assignments as well. These need to be put away in a folder in a drawer or file box. Graded papers may not be used again, but they provide an opportunity for students to learn how to create and utilize a filing system. 
  1. Reset the regulation system.The warmer weather and longer days create opportunities to reset the nervous and/or self-regulation system. Spend extra time engaging in physical activity and being outside. You will feel the rewards!

Wishing you a rejuvenating April!