What is executive function coaching?

Executive Function Coaching offers children and adults with learning disabilities and other learning differences a wide range of intensive, individualized interventions designed to remediate learning challenges and build resilience.

What does an executive function coaching session look like? 

Below are ideas/topics/activities that can be addressed or worked on with a student during your session. We recommended creating a consistent structure using some of the categories below to address the range of needs that may arise for an EF coaching client: 

 

  • Informal check-in / Clear The Deck (Meet and Greet): Take 3 to 5 minutes to ask the student how they are, how things are going, and what activities/hobbies/interests/events have they been up to since you last met. Take some time to celebrate/praise any wins or milestones that the student may have achieved. This time and topic is best used to build rapport and strengthen the client to specialist relationship. Another strategy is to “clear the deck.” To clear the deck, ask the student, “is there anything you would like to discuss before we begin working on identifying any key assignments or tasks to work toward your goals?” 

 

  • Progress updates: What has been going well since the last time we met? What has been challenging since the last time we met? Anything new to report since our last session? Have you been using the tools/strategies we discussed in our last session? How do you feel it’s been working? Do any changes need to be made?

  • Login to student portal to check assignments and grades: Have the student share their screen and walk you through the week’s assignments as they write them down or add them to their calendar of choice. Discuss due dates and how to prioritize the new assignments, and check for any missing assignments. Repeat the same process for grades.

  • Email teachers: If the student is unclear about an assignment or is questioning a grade for accuracy, walk them through the process of sending an email to their teacher (use this opportunity to discuss self-advocacy and how to properly write an email). You can utilize the communication support templates from this page, if desired. 

  • Work on assignments together: If the student needs academic support for completing a homework assignment, work on it together while they share their screen with you. If it is finished, ensure that the student successfully submits it.

  • Discuss avoidance strategies: If the student has been procrastinating getting their tasks done, suggest some solutions. For example: create project-specific to-do lists, self-monitoring (why do I keep avoiding this task?), rethink and prioritize your tasks, plan out the steps needed to complete the tasks, reward systems for successfully completing pieces of work, use phone alarms to initiate tasks, work on tasks in shorter intervals of time rather than one long chunk of time.

  • Discuss effective communication strategies: Some students have difficulty self-advocating and knowing how and when to communicate effectively. You can discuss how communication is an essential part of being successful in everyday life and how it is important to be mindful of the ways we are communicating with those around us. Effective communication skills to talk about: active listening, verbal communication, nonverbal communication, and written communication.

  • Plan ahead: Make sure that the student can identify and explain what they need to work on until your next session together. This can include updating their Google Calendar (or tracking system of choice) and setting up phone alarms as reminders to initiate tasks within the next few days.

 

  • Study Strategies and Tips: Ask the student about their study habits and discuss how they can improve on them.

 

  • Closure/Wrap Up: Take 3-5 minutes to end your session by having the student summarize what you discussed and worked in your executive function coaching session. Have the student tell you in their own words their to-do list tasks and their plan for managing their time effectively to get them done. 


Ask: Did you find our time together helpful? How will you implement the tools/strategies we discussed today? What questions do you have? 

 

Who needs an executive function coach? 

Our clients typically range from middle school to adulthood. Most clients present with some symptoms of ADHD that are causing personal, academic, or professional challenges over an extended period of time. These may include an inability to break large goals into smaller tasks, difficulties in communicating effectively with adults or colleagues, and more. 

Whether the client needs targeted instruction in a specific learning area or an overall strategy for managing school challenges, we will provide appropriately scaffolded activities to support growth.

 

Some activities that we will coach students through are: 

 

  • Self-Advocacy and Negotiation With School Staff Regarding Assignments And Deadlines  

  • Identifying Missing Work And Prioritizing A Plan of Action

  • Chunking Assignments Into Manageable Sections 

Adult learners with ADHD may need specific support in resolving an issue, improving a specific skill, or setting goals and following through. Some activities that we will coach adult learners through are: 

  • Enrollment In College or Technical Schooling

  • Assisting With Applications

  • Applying For Jobs 

  • Developing A Calendar And Using Reminders 

  • Creating A Budget  

  • Spelling Remediation

Transition Coaching clients may need support with making the leap into adulthood or navigating career changes. Some areas of support that we can provide are: 

  • Identifying A Suitable Major Or Career 

  • Managing University Coursework 

  • Balancing College And Career Demands With Mental Health Needs 

 

What makes EF Specialists approach to Executive Function Coaching unique?

At EF Specialists, we understand the power of individualized instruction, progress monitoring and team coordination to support your student in reaching their IEP goals. Through a combination of solution-focused questioning, the cultivation of resource-based thinking and reverse engineering, we will help your family chart a pathway to reaching your academic, social-emotional and transition goals, while supporting the development of the skills and habits necessary to remain successful when your student arrives at the ideal destination. 

Our approach to Executive Function Coaching demystifies learning differences and stimulates clients’ awareness of their strengths so they can use those strengths to their best advantage to overcome or compensate for areas of weakness.

Our team of professionals create and implement a treatment plan that utilizes information from a variety of sources including the client’s social, emotional, psychoeducational, and neuropsychological profiles.

Learn more about our approach by reviewing our Frequently asked questions, below: