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How Can Lydian Academy Help Students With Executive Functioning Challenges?

Young student study at home using laptop and learning online

Executive functioning describes a group of mental skills that make it easier for people to interact with others and complete tasks. Many people have executive functioning challenges, which are associated with certain conditions, including ADHD.1 All young people are in the process of improving their executive functioning, but some face unique challenges in this area. At Lydian Academy, we are actively teaching executive functioning skills in the classroom.

What Is Executive Functioning?

Executive functioning describes our ability to plan, pay attention, follow instructions, solve problems, and prioritize multiple tasks. These skills allow us to manage our time to complete a multi-step project. At the most basic level, executive functioning helps us accomplish our goals.

Some students face challenges with developing these essential skills, due to medical conditions, learning differences, or attention challenges. When individuals have difficulty with executive functioning, it is often referred to as executive dysfunction. Also associated with Alzheimer’s, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or depression, as many as 90% of children who have ADHD may struggle with executive functioning.2

It is important to note that executive dysfunction is not considered a diagnosis, but simply describes the very real challenges that some individuals face in developing or maintaining these abilities. Providing the best support and proactively teaching executive functioning strategies empowers young people to improve their talents in this area.

Eight Types of Self-Regulation Associated With Executive Functioning

Lydian Academy Students

Some students who learn differently might have areas of strength in executive functioning, while others, especially those with attention deficit challenges, might struggle to organize and regulate their behaviors in order to achieve long-term goals.

What are the executive functions essential to self-regulation?

  1. Self-awareness. Being aware of what you are doing and being self-directed toward your own goals.
  2. Self-restraint. Being in control of yourself and able to inhibit unwanted behaviors.
  3. Non-verbal working memory. The ability to focus on what you decided to do.
  4. Verbal working memory. The ability to retain information that was told to you.
  5. Emotional awareness. Being aware of your emotions and how they are linked to your behavior.
  6. Self-motivation. The desire to push yourself toward your goals without outside consequences.
  7. Problem solving. Recognizing obstacles and finding solutions that still meet the goal.
  8. Planning to completion. This includes analyzing, choosing an approach, organizing the work, meeting timelines, and adjusting or shifting steps to complete the task.

Signs of Executive Functioning Challenges in Students

All children demonstrate better executive functioning abilities as they grow and learn, and they naturally develop at different rates for different individuals. Parents and teachers can help students improve their skills in executive functioning and might recognize some of these issues or signs of struggle in the classroom:1

  • Time blindness. A tendency to not budget time in order to complete tasks or avoid future conflicts. This also involves difficulties multitasking or finding balance between tasks.
  • Organizational challenges. Has difficulty stringing together the steps to complete a project, often stalls at the starting point, or struggles to gather the right resources for each step and falls behind schedule.
  • Attention and focus challenges. Seems inattentive in class, gets distracted easily, and finds it hard to sit still without fidgeting or losing focus. Might lose or forget assignments, often turning them in still incomplete.
  • Difficulty controlling impulses. Goes off task by making impulsive decisions for short-term competing interests, or has difficulty regulating emotional outbursts. This also ties into challenges with making friends and building strong relationships.
  • Failing to thrive. Students who are challenged in executive functioning may have low self-esteem, depressed mood, school avoidance, or loss of motivation which affects their attitude and performance in school.

How To Teach Executive Functioning Skills

Parents and teachers can help children develop their executive functioning skills in a variety of ways that recognize their individual strengths. Establishing routines is helpful, which can include checkpoints where their completed steps are recognized and encouraged. With supportive executive functioning strategies tailored to each child, personal success is always within reach.

  • Working on time management by asking your child to estimate how long something will take, and then actually timing it as a fun activity.
  • Using tools and apps designed to help with organization and project planning can help them internalize the essentials of planning and follow through.
  • Breaking assignments into smaller sections reinforces planning techniques and allows the student to feel successful at each step toward their own goal.
  • Making the child the center of their education strategy with a one-on-one learning model allows them to learn the way they learn best, and the flexibility of individualized learning can improve motivation.

Supporting Every Student With Executive Functioning Challenges

Teacher Showing a Lydian Academy Student Science

Lydian Academy provides an individualized educational environment that fosters the strengths of every learner. When executive functioning or other challenges are impacting your child, this one-to-one approach allows the highest level of support and executive functioning accommodations that empower students to achieve their goals.

Our programs increase predictability for those who learn differently, and build strong relationships between students and instructors. Promoting growth and enabling success allows every child to thrive in school. With supporting structure, flexible testing methods, and programs that focus on your child’s interests, their enthusiasm for learning can be fully engaged.

None of us are born with executive functioning skills, but we all have the potential to develop them with the right approach to learning. For many children, changing out of a traditional classroom and into a student-focused learning model can reduce stress, improve academic performance, and foster a lifelong love of learning.

Personalized Learning With a One-on-One Approach

At Lydian Academy, our mission centers around fostering academic excellence for every type of student, by celebrating their strengths and passions while supporting their areas of growth. Since 2006, we have been building a vibrant learning community where individual differences are celebrated.

Lydian Academy middle and high school students enjoy the personalized learning environment that gives them the space and structure to develop academically, emotionally, and socially. Together, we are overcoming executive functioning challenges with innovative tools and techniques that help students improve their self-regulation and planning abilities.

All of our classes are one-to-one with the full focus of a supportive teacher, whether by virtual learning or in person at our Burlingame or Menlo Park campuses. With rolling enrollment and flexible scheduling, you can make the switch at almost any time of year. Enroll now, schedule a tour, or attend a virtual open house to find out more about the difference Lydian Academy can make in your child’s life.



We offer a unique year-round one-on-one learning experience, personalized to you and your schedule.

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