5 Executive Function Tips to Kickstart a Successful School Year

Blackboard that says "Back to school"

As the back-to-school season rolls around, it’s not just new school supplies and stylish backpacks that students need to prepare for success. Developing strong executive function strategies can set the foundation for academic achievement. Here are five tips to help students start the school year on the right foot.

1. Set Clear Goals and Prioritize Tasks:

Before diving into schoolwork, take time to identify your academic and personal goals for the upcoming year. Break these goals down into manageable tasks and prioritize them. This helps you create a roadmap for the school year, making it easier to stay organized and focused. Tools like to-do lists, planners, or digital task management apps can help you keep track of your goals and tasks.

2. Establish a Consistent Routine:

Set a daily routine that includes designated times for studying, homework, extracurricular activities, and relaxation. A well-structured routine reduces cognitive overload and decision fatigue and allows you to manage your time effectively. Remember that consistency counts! Stick to your schedule as closely as possible to build good habits that will serve you throughout the school year.

3. Break Tasks into Smaller Steps:

Complex assignments or long-term projects can be overwhelming. Break them into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, if you have a research paper to write, create a timeline with separate tasks for things like researching, outlining, drafting, and revising. This approach makes the task less intimidating and helps you stay on track.

4. Use Visual Aids and Organizational Tools:

Color-coded calendars, sticky notes, and mind maps can help you visualize your goals and tasks. Create a designated study space that is well-organized and free from distractions, ensuring you have everything you need within arm’s reach.

5. Practice Time Management:

Learn to estimate how long different tasks will take and allocate your time accordingly. Use timers or alarms to stay on track during study sessions and avoid procrastination. Remember to schedule intentional breaks to enhance productivity and maintain attention.

By setting clear goals, establishing a consistent routine, breaking tasks into smaller steps, using visual aids and organizational tools, and practicing time management, students can set themselves up for a successful and less stressful academic year. Check out the SMARTS curriculum for resources to support students in learning and using executive function strategies effectively.

– Taylor McKenna, SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org



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