National Center for Learning Disabilities

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Executive Functioning

Many people with LD struggle with executive function, which can make activities like planning, organizing, strategizing, remembering details and managing time and space difficult. Problems with executive function—a set of mental processes that helps connect past experience with present action—can be seen at any age and often contribute to the challenges individuals with LD face in academic learning.

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Executive Functioning and Learning Disabilities

Executive Functioning - Executive Functioning Skills

I have often written about learning strategies, and how important it is to help students become “strategic” in their approach to learning, and I discussed some ways that teachers can promote student learning by both teaching and reinforcing the use of effective strategies to their students and by imbedding effective teaching strategies into their classroom instruction. What was missing from that discussion was any real focus on the kinds of “thinking” students need to do when they are confronted with different types of learning challenges and opportunities. These “thinking ingredients” fall under the umbrella term “executive functioning.”

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Executive Skills and Your Child With Learning Disabilities

Executive Functioning and BrainAs the parent of a school-age child with learning disabilities (LD), you know that basic patterns of thought such as controlling impulses, flexibility, planning, and organizing must steadily develop and improve as a child advances in school. If they don’t, children fail in small ways and larger ones. Each assignment not completed—or completed but not turned in—each lost notebook and late, hurried project, takes a toll on a child’s self-esteem (and a parent’s patience). Performance anxiety becomes more and more exhausting. The stress of feeling overwhelmed leads some children to misbehave, others to withdraw. Some children decide it’s less scary not to try than it is to try and fail.

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Does Your Child Have Executive Function Difficulties?

executive-function-to-doIn the business world, we think of “executives” as people whose role it is to make decisions, guide actions, provide feedback and lead others to positive outcomes. In the world of teaching and learning, the word “executive” can take on a similar meaning, especially when we talk about the ways that people get and stay organized, create and use strategies to accomplish assignments, reflect on how well we’re doing and decide if we’re working in the most efficient manner.

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Executive Function: Organizing and Prioritizing Strategies for Academic Success

Executive Function - Organize and PrioritizeEmily is a scattered child. She loses things all the time and is always late in the morning because she cannot find her books or her gym shoes. Last week, she missed a field trip because she forgot to hand in the permission slip and could not even find it in her locker or backpack. I wish I knew how to help her to become more organized. (Parent of a 7th grader)

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Executive Function: Self-Monitoring and Self-Checking for Independent Learning

Executive Function - Students with LD Zach never proofreads. I have to remind him to check his homework every night and I feel like a broken record! No matter what I say, his work is still filled with careless mistakes. When he has a math test, he seems to understand the concepts perfectly, but he gets so many answers wrong because of calculation errors. He puts a lot of time and effort into his writing but his punctuation and spelling are awful. No matter how hard he works, his grades are still so low. (Parent of a 10th grader).

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Organization: A Crucial Executive Skill for Your Child With LD

Getting Organized-Get Organized at Home If you’d just get organized!
How can you find anything in here?
The report is due tomorrow? And you haven’t started it?
How could you forget to turn in your homework? I helped you with it!


What’s one thing that makes for a parent’s unhappy day? Getting a phone call or email from school, informing you that your child—who may spend lots of time doing homework—hasn’t turned anything in for six weeks. This wake-up call may be your first indication that your child is having trouble in school. The information is doubly disconcerting when you find, buried in your child’s heavy backpack, lots of completed homework that was never turned in.

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How Does Being Bilingual Affect Learning?

Bilingualism and LDFor generations, we were told that raising children in two languages would leave them “confused.” The idea was that children would learn slower, learn less and generally be less successful if they were tasked with learning two languages instead of just one. This folk wisdom often pushed parents to not teach children their first language and, for schools in the United States, led to a strict and occasionally brutal, English-only policy. And this mindset lives on; scour the internet and you’ll discover that this psuedo-information continues to circulate.

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What’s the Relationship Between ADHD and Executive Function?

ADHD and Executive Function | Link Between Attention and the BrainAttention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most frequently occurring brain-based disorders. It most often manifests itself in childhood and continues to pose challenges throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Its symptoms most often include difficulty getting and staying focused, modulating attention, controlling impulsivity and self-managing behavior. While these symptoms are directly related to the ways the brain works (think brain cells and neurotransmitters), there are specific sets of mental (thinking) skills that are coordinated with the way the brain works.

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