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Understanding the Role of Online EF Coaches for Your Child: A Guide for Parents

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

So you think you're ready to hire an executive function coach for your child? Hold that thought for a moment.

Making the decision to enlist professional help to support your child's educational journey is a significant step, but it's not one to be taken lightly. Executive function coaching can be transformative, honing vital cognitive skills like organization, planning, and task management. But before you jump in, there's something you need to consider.

Just like any other educational tool, understanding the role of an EF coach is crucial. Yes, they can do wonders, but it's essential to know the boundaries of what they can and cannot do.

As parents, it's important to know what you can and cannot expect from an online EF coach. This blog aims to clear up any misconceptions and provide a comprehensive guide.

Let's dive in and unravel the world of EF coaching, painting a realistic picture of how it can foster your child’s growth and development.

What You CAN Expect from an EF Coach

Now that we have established what EF coaches are not here to do, let's focus on what they can provide:

  1. Skill Development: EF coaches teach crucial skills like note-taking, task prioritization, and effective study methods. They also help students understand how to chunk out larger assignments/projects into manageable parts.

  2. Strategy Planning: They work with students on planning strategies and creating organizational systems that enable successful task management.

  3. Team Collaboration: EF coaches collaborate with stakeholders and work as a team to ensure that the student is working to their potential. This includes regular communication and possibly facilitating family team meetings.

  4. Emotional Support: Coaches provide tools for stress management/reduction and emotional regulation, fostering resilience and self-confidence in students.

  5. Advocacy Skills: They model and teach self-advocacy and self-efficacy skills, especially valuable for students with Special Education Needs (SPED) or Individualized Education Programs (IEP) and 504 Plans.

  6. Academic Support: Coaches provide help with things like grade checking, making to-do lists, tracking assignments, and provide help in navigating school assessments and services.

  7. Routine Establishment: They assist in establishing a daily routine/structure to get "life tasks" done, contributing to a child's ability to self-regulate over time.

  8. ADHD Awareness: For parents with ADHD children, EF coaches can provide insights to help parents understand ADHD better.

  9. Positive Reinforcement: EF coaches aim to be a consistent, positive support for the student, building their confidence along the way.

With the right expectations, EF coaching can be an invaluable tool in supporting your child.

What You CAN'T Expect from an EF Coach

It's critical to outline the limitations of an EF coach. While our coaches are trained professionals, they are not a replacement for certain roles and responsibilities. For instance:

  1. Completing Assignments: EF coaches do not turn in or do assignments for students. They are here to guide, not to act as academic surrogates.

  2. Perfection: EF coaches understand that every child is unique and learning is a process, so expecting instant perfection isn’t realistic or healthy.

  3. Child Fixers: EF coaches aren't here to “fix” your child. They are here to teach skills and strategies that help them succeed academically and in life.

  4. Therapist Role: EF coaches are not family therapists, counselors, or intensive counselors. They cannot help with trauma, nor should they be used to mediate parent-child disputes.

  5. Device Monitoring: EF coaches do not monitor your child’s phone or screen time usage. That remains a parental responsibility.

  6. Total Communication: While EF coaches will communicate with parents and stakeholders about coaching progress, they won't communicate directly with teachers on behalf of students.

  7. Major Change in a Few Sessions: It's important to be patient and understand that major changes, especially concerning lifelong behaviors, can't occur in just a few sessions.

Why are clear expectations upfront beneficial for parents?

Unrealistic expectations often lead to dissatisfaction and disappointment. There is a famous saying on this:

Expectations are the dark room in which resentments develop.

Think of working with an EF coach as setting off on an exciting adventure with your child and the EF coach as your seasoned guide. But before we set sail, it's critical to chart the course, or in other words, to set realistic expectations.

Just as a fitness coach can't lift weights for you, an EF coach can't do your child's assignments. Their role is akin to teaching your child to "flex their educational muscles", aiding them in mastering planning, organization, and task management.

Setting expectations is like building a lighthouse, guiding the journey and preventing detours into the choppy seas of disappointment. It allows parents to direct their resources (time, effort, and finances) effectively, steering the child's educational journey in the most beneficial way.

Moreover, clear expectations create a harmonious rhythm between parents and coaches, enhancing collaboration. It also makes progress easier to spot, like cheering for each nautical mile traveled instead of waiting to reach the destination. And the best part? Your child becomes a confident sailor, ready to navigate the vast ocean of learning without feeling overwhelmed. So, let's set a realistic course and embark on this exciting EF coaching voyage together!


The journey to better executive functioning is an engaging and rewarding one. Understanding and working on these skills can profoundly enhance your child's educational experience and offer them tools for life-long success.

Interested in helping your child make the most of their potential? Working with an EF coach could be the key. Coaches work alongside your child, fostering skills that will help them navigate not just school, but life beyond the classroom.

For those keen to get a hands-on understanding of these skills, we invite you to take our free course, Enhance Your Executive Function Skills. You'll gain direct insights and useful tools to understand and bolster executive function skills - free of charge!

We believe that learning is a journey that never truly ends. That’s why we encourage you to subscribe to our weekly newsletter for continued insight, tips, and guidance. To subscribe, simply click here. It’s a great way to stay informed and continue exploring effective strategies and techniques.

We want to thank you for your time and interest in understanding EF coaching and its profound potential. Whether you're considering working with an EF coach, or planning to implement these practices at home, you're taking a significant step towards empowering your child's future. Your dedication is your child's advantage. Here's to fostering skills today for a brighter, more successful tomorrow.

About the author

Sean G. McCormick founded Executive Function Specialists, an online coaching business that guides middle, high school, and college students in overcoming procrastination, disorganization, and anxiety by teaching time management, prioritization, and communication skills so they feel motivated, prepared, and empowered.

He trains educators, parents, and other professionals to support students with ADHD and executive function challenges through his courses in the Executive Function Coaching Academy.

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About 👋

EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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