Students Speak: What is an Executive Function Strategy?

Here’s another installment in our Student’s Speak series where real students tell us about their journies to hone their personal executive function strategies.

Students Speak: What is a strategy?

A strategy is just a way to get work done, to cut it up so it doesn’t seem daunting any more. You focus on the main idea, your goal, then the supporting details, the steps you take to get there. It makes the work more simple, and it’s way better than just jumping right in without a plan and messing up a lot. —Cesar, high school student

Strategies are things like setting goals in the morning, organizing your space, things of that nature. They help you direct your work. They can help you work faster and they make the work easier. —John, high school student

A strategy is when you figure out how you’re going to get your work done in an orderly way. You don’t want to just have a bunch of information sitting around. It’s better to have a schedule or a way to organize the information. That way, when you’re writing a paper or doing your homework, you know what you’re supposed to do, it’s easier, and you really understand what you’re doing. —Sara, middle school student

A strategy is a planned, structured way of doing something. —Mary, middle school student

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! These students have done a great job describing why strategies are so important. Too often students, and even adults, feel rushed for time and just jump right in without a plan. Taking time to approach your tasks strategically requires thinking through the desired outcome and coming up with a systematic approach to getting there. As John says, this makes your work easier, even if it seems like extra time up front. Often our students will say that they don’t have the time to use strategies. If you can prove to them that strategies are a way to save time and to help them achieve their goals more easily, you’ll have taught them the value of a strategic perspective.

To start exploring your students’ definitions of what makes a strategy, check out lesson 1.4 of the SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum.