By: Kyle Mutch, M.S., CCC-SLP

Children and students can sometimes struggle with academics once they have more expectations on their lunch trays. This is becoming far too common, and it is often a result of poorly developed executive functioning skills.

What is executive functioning, you ask? Well, it’s the organization, planning, attention/focus, flexible thinking, and problem-solving skills needed to get things done!

Unfortunately these skills are not innate, however, children can develop these skills and learn the strategies necessary to survive the gradual increase in academic demands.

Speech-language pathologists provide the scaffolding necessary to help students improve in the areas mentioned above. In the meantime, here are some strategies that can help:


It starts with their binders and notebooks, but it doesn’t stop there. Open your child’s backpack up and you’ll quickly know how organized they are. We need to teach kids how to use folders, dividers, and binders, as well as where to organize all of their assignments, handouts, tests, etc.


Many schools are really on top of providing planners for students. The problem is that most students don’t use them or don’t know how to use them. It’s so important for them to use planners consistently and effectively to stay on top of heavy workloads and/or social lives.  If your child procrastinates completing assignments or puts off studying until the last minute, you can try breaking up the work into separate parts or plan out the steps required to complete the work. Planning and prioritizing will save you headaches and time. No one likes staying up past midnight to finish assignments!

Problem Solving

Practice discussing and reasoning through problem-solving situations. Think about the positives, negatives, and outcomes of different actions. Let your child make inferences and predictions, and determine what information is important or needed. They need to be able to identify the problem, determine solutions, and weigh the outcomes.

Flexibility and Self-Control

These two areas allow kids to work through thoughts, actions, and emotions in order to accomplish tasks. It’s important for children to examine behaviors and determine the positive and negative outcomes, as well as how they impact others around them. The goal is for them to gain more insight to eventually change negative behaviors to appropriate and expected behaviors. Also, having some calming strategies for when someone feels anxious, upset, or frustrated can go a long way!

Our speech-language pathologists are skilled at helping children develop better executive functioning skills through these strategies and more. If you have questions about executive functioning or other aspects of speech-language or occupational therapy, get in touch with us.