Posts Tagged ‘Executive Functioning Coach’

Executive Function Building Blocks: How to Study for an Exam

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Adam S. Executive Function Coach and Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to study for an exam.

General Tips:
1. go to class
2. take good notes

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3. do your homework
4. review those notes

Specific Tips:
1. Backwards plan. Figure out how much time you have from now until test date and divide your study material wisely so you don’t cram.
2. Study groups can be helpful to take turns teaching each other the material.
3. Ask for help. Give yourself time before the test to ask your teacher for clarification on difficult subject matter.
4. Take care of your body. Make sure you get a good night sleep the day before the test, don’t cram, and eat a good, healthy breakfast the day of the exam. Good Luck!

Are you preparing for your exams? Which of exam tips did you find most helpful?

Post your tips/comments below.

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November 29th, 2013
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Executive Functioning Building Blocks: Effective Note-Taking

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Adam S. Executive Functioning Coach and Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to take effective notes in class.

1. Show up to class on time and be prepared
2. Stay organized- use three-ring binder and other tools to organize notes


3. Use technology-computers could improve the quality of your note-taking
4. Review-repetition is the key to learning new material

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hey guys. Adam S., here with Prepped & Polished South Natick,
Massachusetts. Today, we’re going to talk about an essential academic
skill: Effective note-taking. The most important part of note-taking is the
simplest, easiest thing you can do to boost your economic performance, and
that is quite simply show up, be present in class. This is easy in high
school and middle school when your parents make you go and you don’t really
have a lot of choice. By the time you get to college, no one tells you what
to do and your teachers aren’t going to chase after you. The easiest and
probably the best thing you can do to boost your score is just to make sure
that you show up.Being present is more than just physically being there, it means making
sure that you’re there, prepared to learn. Make sure that you get up early
enough, that you’re awake and you’ve had something to eat. Make sure you
get to class 5 to 10 minutes early to make sure that you have time to get
setup, and that you’re not rushing in when the teacher’s already started
talking. Make sure that you sit near the front so that you’re away from the
distractions of your classmates and you’re able to hear everything the
teacher says and see anything the teacher might write on the board. Make
sure you do any homework or reading the night before the class. It’s a lot
easier to learn new material if you’re already familiar with it.

The first step to effective note-taking is making sure that you’re
organized. I think 3-ring binders work great. Just use a different binder
for each class. It’s a good way to help you organize all your notes, all
your handouts, and keep everything in one discrete place. Then when you
start taking notes, make sure you date your notes so you can organize them
when it comes time to study for the test. Label what the teacher’s going to
be talking about. If the teacher changes topics, change labels and come up
with subtopics to help you keep track of where you are in the class. As you
sit through class, listen to what the teacher’s saying. If your teacher
repeats something more than once or writes it up on the board, it’s
important. Chances are it’s going to be on the test; make sure you write it

Also really important: If you don’t understand something, ask questions.
The only dumb question is the question that you don’t ask. Teacher’s there
to help you understand the topics that you’re going over, and the only way
she or he knows that you don’t understand something is if you ask for help.
If a teacher isn’t able to answer your question during class, approach them
after class or show up early and approach them before class. Make sure you
get the help that you need.

If you’re having trouble keeping up in class, there’s a few different
technologies you can utilize to improve your note-taking. First, if you
can’t keep up with what your teacher’s saying and feel like you’re missing
out on some of what is being said and unable to write it down, try bringing
a recorder to class. You can sit there and record everything the teacher
says and then play it back later at your own pace. Additionally, computers
can be a useful asset. If writing is too much of a challenge and you can’t
keep up, you can bring a computer and try typing your notes. Just make sure
that you’re actually typing notes and not looking up Facebook when you
should be paying attention to what the teacher’s saying. Additionally if
you qualify for special accommodations, make sure you talk to your school’s
academic resource center to see what accommodations are available. It could
be that you could get a copy of the teacher’s notes, notes from an official
note-taker, or recordings of the teacher’s lectures. If you do qualify for
note-taking, don’t only rely on someone else’s notes because you might not
understand everything they write. Make sure you continue to take your own

If you have friends in the same class as you, compare notes with them. Make
sure you didn’t miss something the teacher might have mentioned. Then
really important, when you get home at night and sit down to do your
homework, review your notes. Repetition is the key to learning new

Those are the basics of effective note-taking. To recap what we talked
about: Number 1, show up, be present. Get to class on time and be prepared.
Number 2 is stay organized. Use 3-ring binders and other tools to help
organize your notes and use the tools that we talked about to identify
relevant topics and write them down. If you’re having trouble keeping up,
ask for help. If you can’t get help through asking, see if your school
offers accommodations and use technology; computers, recorders can all
really improve the quality of your note-taking. Finally, review. Repetition
is the key to learning new material.

That’s it for this time. Next time, we’ll talk about how to use these notes
and other materials to effectively study for a test. Talk to you then.

Are you struggling with your note-taking skills? Which of Adam’s tips did you find most useful?

Post your tips/comments below.

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October 25th, 2013
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Executive Functioning Building Blocks: Creating a Weekly Schedule

Time Management: How to Make a Weekly Schedule

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Adam S. Executive Functioning Coach and Study Skills Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to build a weekly schedule and manage your time more efficiently.

1. Start with your obligations
2. Then fill in Homework Time
3. Make sure you include time for fun

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Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hi, guys. Adam S. here, with Prepped & Polished in [inaudible: 00:03],
Mass. Today, we are going to talk about how to build a schedule. It’s
really tough to keep everything in your head when you get into high school,
college. Organizational tools can be really valuable, if you use them:
Daily planners, log calendars; really valuable tools. You really want to
get yourself a good planner to start, planners and assignment notebooks.
You want to try and find a planner that has a 30-day view and a 7-day view.
Then you want to plug your big events coming up into the 30-day view, and
then look at those a week at a time and line them up in your 7-day view.
We’re going to talk a little bit about what that looks like. Let’s take it
over to the whiteboard.When it comes time to make your weekly schedule, you want to start by
filling in the stuff that you have no control over; they’re your
obligations. The time’s fixed, you have to be there. Basically, your job is
just to show up. That’ll be stuff like class, your history class, 9:00 to
10:00, math class, or practices for soccer; extracurricular activities,
appointments. That’s the skeleton of your schedule, and then you’re going
to plug the rest of your time in around that.Since school is your Number 1 priority, the next thing you want to think
about is homework. How do you think about how much homework time? A good
rule of thumb is you want 1 to 3 hours of homework time per hour of class
time. Say you’re taking 4 classes, and they each meet for 1 hour, 3 times a
week. You’re looking at 12 hours in total class time. That means you want
to budget for anywhere from 12 to 36 hours of homework time. That might
sound like a lot upfront, and you’re probably not always going to need that
much time, but you want to budget that much time so you know it’s there if
you need it.How are we going to use that time? Say I decided that this is going to be a
2-hour homework block. What I want to do is look at all my syllabuses for
my classes and make a list of all the homework I have to do for each class
that week. Say that I have math numbers 1 through 20; history, read pages
70 to 85. Keep going on down the list. Then you want to get a rough idea of
how much time each of these assignments is going to take. This is something
you’ll get a better sense for as time goes on. A good trick is to do a
small portion of it. Say you have to read 15 pages for history: Set a
timer, read 5 pages, stop the timer; see how long it took you, and then
divide that by 5. Say it took you 20 minutes; 20 / 5 = 4 minutes a page.
You have to read 15 pages; it’s going to be about an hour. You want to
budget for an hour of history reading, and then plug that into your
schedule in that homework time.How do we decide which homework to do when? You really want to prioritize
by a due date. If history is not due until Friday and math is due on
Tuesday, you want to plug math first; make sure you get math done Monday
night so it’s done in time for Tuesday, because you know you’ll have later
in the week to do that history homework. Another important point is to
think about breaking up larger projects into smaller projects. We can talk
about that more in a later video. If you have a big paper coming up, you
want to break that down into 1, 2 . . . maybe even 3 separate pieces, where
you do an outline, a draft, edits. It’s really overwhelming to try and do
any big project all at once, but if you can break it down into its
component pieces, and then take each piece and put that into a day in your
schedule, it’s much more manageable.It’s also really important to schedule fun stuff, too. When you think about
your schedule, if you know that playing Xbox is really important, make sure
you make time for Xbox. It gives you something to look forward to, it makes
the schedule more fun, and if you don’t make time for it, you’re just going
to take it out of other time when you’re supposed to be doing homework.
It’s really important to know yourself. Give yourself time for your
obligations: History, math, soccer, time for homework, and then time for
fun. It’s going to take you a little bit longer the first couple times you
do it, but it gets a lot easier, and in time, it becomes second nature. By
the second half of the semester, you won’t even think about it, and your
life is going to be a lot easier.

Those are the basics of building a schedule. Remember, you want to start
with your skeleton; your obligations. That’s your class time, your
extracurriculars, activities you have to go to. Then fill in your homework
time. Prioritize your subjects by due date, and try to assign realistic
time blocks to each assignment. Then make sure you include time for fun
because that’s important too. All right, guys. We’ll talk to you next time.

How do you currently manage your weekly schedule? Which of Adam’s tips did you find most useful?

Post your tips/comments below.

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September 18th, 2013
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5 Tips for Students Who Struggle with Executive Functioning

Executive Functioning and Study Skills Tutor gives Executive Functioning Tips By Adam S., Executive Function & Study Skills coach, Prepped & Polished, LLC

What is executive functioning?

Executive functioning (EF) is a series of mental processes that utilize our past experiences to make informed decision about present and future actions. Students who have EF related learning disabilities can face difficulties with:

• General organization
• Planning and time management
• Multitasking and prioritizing
• Shifting focus
• Asking for help

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Ways to Cope with EF related learning disabilities
Fortunately, there are behavior-based strategies to work around these challenges. These strategies are like anything in life- successful execution is going to take lots of practice, and it’s important not to get discouraged if at you first you don’t succeed. It’s about progress, not perfection!

1. Use your Resources: Ask for Help, Early and Often
• Most schools have resources to help students overcome learning challenges, but students have to advocate for themselves. These resources usually include free counseling and tutoring, and reserved “quiet places” to do homework and take exams.
• Apply for extra time for exams- this will usually require an assessment by the school, and/or a doctor’s note, and can grant students the right to extra time on exams, the ability to use computers for written exams, and the ability to take exams in a quiet environment free from distraction.

2. Get to Know Your Professors
• Introduce yourself to your teachers at the beginning of the semester- be upfront about any concerns you may have about success in their course, and the fact that you face some learning challenges. Talk about flexibility in regards to deadlines- most professors will be willing to work with you. It’s better to discuss these issues up front, because if you wait until the day before your big project is due, the professor is going to be less inclined to work with you, and assume that the student is just lazy or making excuses.

3. Make Easy-to-Reference Checklists
• Utilize flashcards to make sure that you’re prepared each time you leave your dorm. Bullet out everything you need to take with you for class each day, or for club meetings, or sports, and tape those lists on your mirror, or by your door. Do a quick check before you head out the door each day.

4. Use Tools to Stay Organized
• Utilize large, easy to read visual planning tools, like wall calendars and daily planners, and check them several times a day. Write due dates on your calendar and planners, so that you’re always aware of approaching deadlines.
• Don’t forget to schedule time for transitions (walking to class, catching the bus, etc.)
• Use a watch with multiple alarms to set reminders for different activities and to keep track of time. For example, if you want to spend 30 minutes working on a particular assignment, set two timers, one to alert you at the half-way point, and another to go off when time is up.

5. Break Your Work up into Manageable Chunks
• Don’t try to tackle big projects all at once!
• Always ask for written instructions if possible.
• Break large projects into smaller pieces, and assign a timeframe to each piece. (It’s better to overestimate how much time you’ll need!)
• Work backwards from the due date; if the assignment has 4 pieces, and each piece will take about 2 hours, you need to allot 4 different homework periods to working on each of those elements, and then probably another 2 hours block to make edits and revisions. That means you need to start the project at least 6 days before it is due, and you should probably give yourself even more time, just to be safe.

Consistent application of these strategies over time will absolutely contribute to success in college level academics and beyond. Remember, although it may seem to take longer at first, taking the time to be prepared and organized will ultimately save you time and headaches in the long run.

Do you struggle with executive function? How do you better your executive function skills?

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Adam holds a B.A. in History from Boston University, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. Adam has been working as a private tutor since 2009, helping students with executive function and study skills coaching, standardized test prep, college application and essay writing, English language and writing development, study skills and executive functioning. He’s worked with students from diverse backgrounds, from high school to college graduate programs, both domestic and international. Adam honed his own time management skills in college, where he juggled a full time and a part time job while also attending to his own full time studies. Adam is an Eagle Scout, and a member of the Alpha Sigma Lambda national honor society. Adam plans on returning to school to pursue a Master’s in Education, and in his free time is an avid trail runner. em>

September 4th, 2013
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