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What is the value of executive function coaching (and the cost of untreated ADHD)?

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Are you worried about your child's ability to keep up in school or handle life’s challenges?

Research shows that executive function skills are crucial for academic achievement, emotional well-being, and long-term success in life.

In this article, I’ll help you discover why investing in executive function coaching could be one of the best decisions you can make for your child's future.

My Wake-Up Call

Let me start with a personal story that taught me the importance of value over price. In 2013, I moved up to Buffalo to work in the public school system while earning my Master's Degree in Exceptional Education.

The winters were brutal! I bought a cheap pair of boots that fell apart within a year. However, my wise co-worker Mrs. Diegelman advised me to invest in a pair of Red Wing boots, assuring me that they would last for years.

I took her advice, and not only did these boots serve me through harsh winters, but I also sold them for half the price when I moved back to California.

This taught me that sometimes quality and reliability are invaluable, especially when the going gets tough.

Price is what you pay, value is what you get.
-Warren Buffet

Why Is This Relevant To Your Child?

Much like choosing a durable pair of boots, choosing executive function coaching for your child is an investment in quality and long-term success.

But what exactly is executive function coaching, and how does it differ from traditional tutoring?

Focus and Scope

Executive Function Coaching focuses on crucial skills like time management, problem-solving, and emotional regulation. Did you know that stress, sadness, and lack of physical fitness can impair your child’s executive functions and prefrontal cortex, which are vital for learning?

Tutors generally focus on academic content, while executive function coaches help your child develop essential life skills.

The Long-Term Benefits

Your child's early years are formative. Research indicates that strong executive functions in childhood are predictors of lifelong achievement, health, and quality of life.

Investing in executive function coaching can yield substantial returns in the form of improved life skills, better academic performance, enhanced emotional well-being, and long-term life achievements.

Executive function skills even impact job and marital outcomes!

In contrast, the returns on tutoring are often limited to improved performance in specific academic areas.

Coaching goes beyond academics; it’s an investment in your child’s future. On the other hand, tutoring mainly improves grades in specific subjects.

Emotional and Psychological Support

Coaches work on building your child’s self-esteem and confidence, which is vital because a child’s emotional state can impact their executive functions. one hundred and forty-one 3- to 5-year-old children from low-income homes...Results indicated that the various aspects of child self-regulation accounted for unique variance in the academic outcomes independent of general intelligence and that the inhibitory control aspect of executive function was a prominent correlate of both early math and reading ability.
Findings suggest that curricula designed to improve self-regulation skills as well as enhance early academic abilities may be most effective in helping children succeed in school.

The Real Cost of Inaction

If your child is struggling and doesn’t receive the necessary support, they may face academic difficulties, lowered self-esteem, and miss out on developing vital life skills. This can have long-lasting consequences on their future success and happiness.

Research consistently demonstrates that untreated or unsupported ADHD can lead to significant academic difficulties, with studies estimating that students with ADHD are two to three times more likely to repeat a grade and have a higher risk of dropping out of school compared to their peers.

ADHD's negative impact on student achievement from John Hattie's seminal study, "Visible Learning"
ADHD's negative impact on student achievement from John Hattie's seminal study, "Visible Learning"

Moreover, data reveals that individuals with ADHD have a higher likelihood of experiencing long-term negative outcomes, including lower educational attainment, reduced employment opportunities, and increased rates of mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression.

The repercussions of not providing the necessary support can have lasting consequences on a child's future success, emphasizing the critical importance of early intervention and targeted assistance to help mitigate these adverse effects and promote positive outcomes.

What would a coach work on with my student?

As a parent, you might be worried about your teen’s ability to manage time, stay organized, handle emotions, and keep up with schoolwork.

An executive function coach can be invaluable in addressing these concerns by working closely with your teen to develop crucial life skills. Through personalized coaching, your teen will learn strategies for effective time management, organization, emotional regulation, and problem-solving.

This helps in not only improving academic performance but also in building self-esteem and motivation, essential for navigating the challenges of adolescence and preparing for adulthood.

As a result, you'll witness your teen becoming more self-sufficient, confident, and better equipped to achieve their goals.

Why is meeting with a coach EVERY week essential?

Consistent weekly sessions of executive function coaching are vital because they provide the necessary structure and routine that individuals with ADHD often find challenging to establish on their own.

By dedicating 45 minutes to an hour each week, clients can gradually build and reinforce essential skills such as time management, problem-solving, and emotional regulation.

This incremental skill-building is especially crucial during the school year, when students are faced with academic demands that require effective executive functioning.

Regular sessions ensure that strategies are internalized, and difficulties are addressed in a timely manner, which is essential for the long-term success and well-being of individuals with ADHD.

As a parent, it is important to have realistic expectations and be comitted to the process for it to be valuable to you and your student.

Read our guide, "Understanding the Role of Online EF Coaches for Your Child: A Guide for Parents," to decide if EF coaching is a good match for your situation.

How long should my student meet with their coach?

We recommend that sessions with your student last for about 45 minutes. This duration strikes a balance that allows enough time to delve into challenges, explore solutions, and practice strategies, without overwhelming or exhausting the student.

It also fosters a sense of focus and engagement, which is essential for effective learning and skill-building.

In terms of the overall time commitment, it's important to recognize that building sustainable habits and mastering executive function skills is a process that doesn’t happen overnight.

We generally suggest that families commit to at least 6 months of consistent coaching. This timeframe allows for the gradual development of skills and the internalization of strategies.

It gives the student ample opportunity to practice and refine these skills in various contexts and situations, which is critical for long-term success.

Keep in mind that for some students, ongoing support beyond 6 months may be beneficial as they continue to face new challenges and transitions.

What do parents say about executive function coaching?

Don't take my word for it though -- just read what parents say after utilizing an executive function coach:

Make the Wise Investment

Think of executive function coaching as a pair of sturdy boots that will support your child through the challenging terrains of life.

Yes, it's an investment, but the returns - improved life skills, academic performance, emotional well-being, and long-term achievements - are invaluable.

Don’t let another day go by.

Take the first step in unlocking your child's full potential. Reach out for a consultation or more information on how executive function coaching can make a world of difference in your child’s life.

Further Study

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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