Task Initiation: A Multi-Step Strategy for Student Success

Blank open notebook with pencil on the left page

Initiating tasks can be a challenge for students, often hindering their academic progress. To help your students build skills to kickstart their work effectively, try this multi-step strategy.

Step 1: Provide Clear Instructions and Expectations

Begin by providing clear, concise instructions for tasks. Clearly outline the objectives, expectations, and desired outcomes. Break down the task into smaller, manageable steps to ensure students understand what needs to be accomplished. Visual aids or verbal cues can also assist in reinforcing these instructions, catering to diverse learning styles.

Step 2: Set a Prioritized Action Plan

Guide students in creating an action plan. Help them prioritize tasks based on urgency or importance. Encourage the use of tools like planners or task lists to organize and structure their workflow. By breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable components, students can approach their work methodically and feel less overwhelmed.

Step 3: Encourage a Starting Point

Support students in identifying a starting point for their tasks. Sometimes, the hardest part is simply getting started. Encourage students to begin by tackling a smaller subtask or one they find most interesting. This initial progress often serves as a catalyst, boosting motivation and confidence to continue with the task.

Step 4: Provide Positive Reinforcement

Acknowledge and celebrate students’ efforts in initiating tasks. By offering positive reinforcement, whether through verbal praise or acknowledgment of progress, you can encourage continued engagement and reinforce the importance of task initiation.

By implementing this multi-step strategy, educators can effectively nurture students’ ability to initiate tasks independently, setting them on a path toward greater academic success and self-efficacy.

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

About the Author

Caitlin Vanderberg, Ed.M., is a SMARTS Associate and an Educational Specialist. She leads the development and piloting of the MetaCOG Surveys & Toolkit and provides academic support to elementary and middle school students with learning, attention, and executive function challenges. Before joining ResearchILD in 2020, Caitlin worked as an assistant elementary school teacher and with many arts education programs. Caitlin holds an Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education from Harvard University Graduate School of Education.



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