Executive Functioning Skills in High School

(1 minute read)
Here’s a quick and simple strategy for high school students who struggle with intense schedules that require changing classes, books, and materials every 40 minutes. For those students who already do it, kudos to you!

1. Have a color-coded, weekly calendar/schedule of all teachers and classes. For examples, “Trigonometry” might be pink, “Biology” might be purple, etc. Make several color copies of the schedule to paste in the locker, to stick onto the cover of the looseleaf binder or 5-subject notebook, and to hang in the bedroom.
2. Books should have the same color sticker on the spine that matches the color on the schedule.
3. Tabs in the looseleaf binder should be color-coded with the same colors as the schedule and books.

If students do not have enough time between periods to switch books, then at the start of each day, they check the schedule hanging in the locker and select the correctly colored books necessary for the next few periods (until the next long break.) They carry these books in their backpack along with the looseleaf binder or 5-subject notebook and pencil case. This way, they always have all the correct materials with them.

Why is this helpful for students? Instead of having to read names of subjects, process what they just read, and find the corresponding books and materials, students can simply look at their schedule, note the colors needed, and collect those books. (For many people, processing colors is easier than processing words.) For example, Monday requires the yellow, pink, and blue books. Tuesday requires the green, orange, purple, and pink books. Eventually, students will associate the colors with the subjects. For now, we need them to have a quick way to have all the right materials for class without getting overwhelmed by this task.

Here’s a game to practice this skill. Tell the student that you’ll name a day of the week, say Thursday, and the student has to quickly check the schedule and make a pile of the correct books. Then, have the student be the “teacher,” name a day, and check to make sure you picked the correct books. Practice this game several times over the next few days and weeks until the skill gets easier.

To a successful school year!


Dr. Devora

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