Organization and Attention Challenges Related to Sensory Processing Disorders

Kids with sensory needs often times have organization difficulties.  Sensory inattention is a real thing! They are distracted by their body’s need for sensory integration and are challenged to focus on tasks at hand due difficulties with inattention.


While sensory kids might have attention problems, typically developing kids are also learning to work with the distractions of multi-sensory input to focus on tasks.  You might see visual inattention that causes a child to skip words when copying from a book.  You might see them forget to put their homework folder in their backpack at the end of the school day. It’s kind of like a jumble of beads in where all of the colors are so distracting that it’s hard to pull out the ones that are most important.  Then the beads spill and you’ve got a disorganized mess to deal with on top of everything else that needs to happen in your day. 

Sensory Processing components and considerations for the disorganized and inattentive child.  This site contains lots of attention and organization strategies for kids with sensory processing disorders from an Occupational Therapist.

Sensory Inattention

There are normal everyday distractions that all of us are managing.  I for one am currently distracted by kids, schedules, deadlines, and the need to pull frozen chicken out of the fridge so that we can eat dinner later.  A child with sensory processing disorder or general sensory challenges may be distracted by the input their body craves and the overwhelming input that they are constantly bombarded with. This sensory inattention may be a result of underlying issues going on that distracts from the task at hand.

When sensory-related inattention is a primary difficulty relating to disorganization in kids, there are ways to work around and help. Check out some of the sensory strategies listed further down in this post.

Other reasons for being inattentive:

  • Impulsivity
  • Overwhelming and confusing sensory input makes navigating sensory information
  • Trouble staying on a task
  • Trouble identifying priorities
  • Focus on anxiety limits ability to stay on task
  • Rigidity causing difficulty transitioning into new tasks
  • Motor insecurity (fine motor or gross motor, visual motor, sensori-motor) causes trouble getting started on a task.
  • Low frustration tolerance to difficult tasks.  These kids might not try a task to avoid a frustrated meltdown as a compensatory strategy
These sensory processing disorder treatment strategies can help kids who struggle with sensory inattention or overreaction to sensory input.

Sensory inattention Strategies

So, how can a worried parent or involved teacher help kids who are struggling with attention problems and resulting disorganization?  We’ve recently shared tips to help with attention at home and at school.  But what if all of the modifications and adaptations to your child’s day are just not working?

What if, as a Mom or a Dad, you are at your wit’s end with your child’s poor attention…the behaviors…your child’s seemingly intentional disregard to directions and others around them. Sometimes, there is a reason for these actions.  They aren’t always intentional.  They aren’t always ADHD related. They aren’t always the actions of a “bad kid”.

Sometimes, there is an underlying reason for disorganization issues.  There is a sensory component. It is sensory inattention that we are talking about.

A child with sensory processing difficulties might have trouble blocking out lights, noises, and movements of others.  They might drop their pencil and not even realize it.  They might have difficulty with handwriting. They might bump into others in lines at school or bounce off the walls at home.  Do these sound familiar?  

Sensory HYPERSENSITIVITY

There are many indications of children who are overly sensitive to typical daily activities. Children with sensory hypersensitivity over-respond to sensory input. They may have an acute or overly sensitive response to input.

  • Overreact to bright lights and loud noises.
  • Demonstrate meltdowns when overwhelmed
  • Complain about itchy tags or clothing seams, including the seam along the toes in socks.  Refuse to wear certain textures, and complain that they are too rough or scratchy.
  • Difficulty with sensing how much force they need to apply in tasks; they might press too hard when writing, rip the paper when erasing, or slam down objects.
  • Trouble knowing where their body is in relation to other objects or people.
  • Overly distracted by noises in the classroom.
  • Appears clumsy.
  • Avoid hugs and cuddling even with family members.
  • Overly fearful of movement including swings, slides, and merry-go-rounds.
  • Bump into other students in school lines, or crashes into objects.
  • Tendency to bolt or run away when they’re overwhelmed to get away from stressors or fears of unfamiliar situations.

Sensory Hyposensitivity

There are also indications of children who are under-responsive to sensory stimulation and seek out more sensory input. Indications of hyposensitivity occur in children who do not seem to notice sensory input. They may seek out sensory input in order to gain sensory input that they need in order to organize or regulate. Children that flap their hands, bite, pinch, bolt, or seem to have a very high tolerance for pain, spinning, or other movement may have sensory hyposensitivities.

  • Constantly touch people or textures.
  • Loves active play.
  • Crave fast, spinning and/or intense movement.
  • Enjoys heavy deep pressure like tight bear hugs.
  • Cannot tolerate smells. Or, smells everything.
  • Disregard or no understanding of personal space.
  • Swing, spin, jump, run, crash
  • Chew everything…clothing, pencils, toys, grass, non-edible materials
  • Very high tolerance for pain.
  • Very fidgety and unable to sit still, especially when the child is expected to sit still.
  • Seeks out jumping, bumping and crashing activities.
  • Loves jumping on furniture and trampolines.
  • Self-stimulation behaviors (flapping, bolting, chewing, pressing on eyelids, rocking, humming, lining things up, tapping on things, etc.)
  • Loves playground equipment like swings, merry-go-rounds and slides.

It’s easy to understand how a child with either a low or a high tolerance to sensory stimulation can show inattention to focused tasks.  There is so much information coming at them at once and they are unable to filter out what is unnecessary while attending to a directions like “Get your homework out of your back pack” or “Brush your teeth, your hair, and put on your shoes.”  How can they possibly keep themselves organized in tasks?

While no two children are alike, there are many sensory processing treatments that can help with attention and organization.  Movement activities, core strengthening, and sensory integration therapy can help with attention in kids.  In fact, sensory integration treatment interventions “may result in positive outcomes in sensory-motor skills and motor planning; socialization, attention, and behavioral regulation; reading-related skills; participation in active play; and achievement of individualized goals.” (From here.) 

Sensory Processing Disorder Treatment


Some of our favorite ways to engage the sensory systems in sensory integration activities are: 

Try using these techniques to help your child sort out all of the information, and just like those beads that are all over the floor?  Create beautiful moments in your day!

Sensory Processing components and considerations for the disorganized and inattentive child.  This site contains lots of attention and organization strategies for kids with sensory processing disorders from an Occupational Therapist.

Be sure to stop by and see recommendations for Attention difficulties at home and at school, part of a recent Organization series that we’ve shared:

Tips to Help your Sensory Kid Get Organized at School

Tips to Help your Sensory Kid Get Organized at Home

More tools for addressing attention needs in kids

There are so many strategies to address attention in kids and activities that can help address attention needs. One tactic that can be a big help is analyzing precursors to behaviors related to attention and addressing underlying needs. 

The Attention and Sensory Workbook can be a way to do just that. 

The Attention and Sensory Workbook is a free printable resource for parents, teachers, and therapists. It is a printable workbook and includes so much information on the connection between attention and sensory needs. 

Here’s what you can find in the Attention and Sensory Workbook

  • Includes information on boosting attention through the senses
  • Discusses how sensory and learning are connected
  • Provides movement and sensory motor activity ideas
  • Includes workbook pages for creating movement and sensory strategies to improve attention

A little more about the Attention and Sensory Workbook: 

Sensory processing is the ability to register, screen, organize, and interpret information from our senses and the environment. This process allows us to filter out some unnecessary information so that we can attend to what is important. Kids with sensory challenges often time have difficulty with attention as a result.

It’s been found that there is a co-morbidity of 40-60% of ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder. This workbook is an actionable guide to help teachers, therapists, and parents to help kids boost attention and focus in the classroom by mastering sensory processing needs. 

You will find information on the sensory system and how it impacts attention and learning. There are step-by-step strategies for improving focus, and sensory-based tips and tricks that will benefit the whole classroom.

The workbook provides tactics to address attention and sensory processing as a combined strategy and overall function. There are charts for activities, forms for assessment of impact, workbook pages for accommodations, and sensory strategy forms.
  Grab the Attention and Sensory Workbook by clicking HERE or on the image below.    

Attention and sensory workbook activities for improving attention in kids

What are Executive Functioning Skills?

What are executive functioning skills? This resource will help understand what executive functions are.

Executive functioning skills are an important component of skilled occupational therapy intervention, but they can be confusing to some. What are executive functioning skills? Executive functioning skills go beyond the basics like working memory and impulse control. In fact, there is not necessarily one agreed-upon definition for executive functioning! Ready to learn more? Keep reading!

What are executive functioning skills and how do attention, organization, working memory, planning and other executive functions help kids with higher cognitive skills?

What are executive FUNCTIONING Skills?

Executive functioning (EF) skills are diverse. Typically, EF consists of skills including the ability to manage emotions, initiate activities within a timely manner, shift attention from topics or activities, control impulses and urges, retain information for use during functional activities, develop plans and formulate systems to perform a desired task, prevent missing materials, and being mindful of how our own behavior impacts others.

Development of executive functioning skills is essential for kids to complete tasks like planning and prioritization.

When do executive functioning skills develop?

Executive functioning skills take a long time to develop! As a result, different ages demonstrate different challenges when facing EF deficits.

While a child in late elementary school may seem successful with their ability to manage classroom materials, turn in homework assignments on time, and engage in age-appropriate behaviors, the same child may demonstrate significant challenges upon the transition to middle school. For example, now they have to return to their locker between classes to exchange books, which is not just a simple stop-and-go activity.

There are distractions, the desire to engage in social interactions, a time crunch to make it to the next class on time, the need to remember what class is next and what materials they need, and not to mention needing to remember the sequence for their combination lock! This all happens before they even make it into their next classroom or head home for the day.

Wondering what are executive functioning skills? Read more about working memory, inhibition, planning, prioritization, organization, and other executive function skills in kids.

How can executive functioning skills improve?

Thanks to the brain’s neuroplasticity, EF skills have potential for improvement! Many daily activities require diverse EF skills, making them a fantastic opportunity to integrate effective strategies.

Emotional regulation as an area of executive functioning:

Emotional regulation is one of the first areas of executive functioning that many parents want to improve, since it can add significant stress to family life. Self-reflection is one way to improve emotional regulation. However, it’s important that this takes place after the big feelings pass, since learning takes place when bodies and minds are “just right.”

This can easily be added to family routines. One way to encourage self-reflection is to have each family member share a positive and negative from the day when seated for dinner.

This also allows for family members to support each other (“Good luck on your test today, Jacob, you studied very hard!”) and provides opportunities for continued conversation (“You mentioned having an argument with your friend at lunch today. Is there anything I can do to help?”). It can also normalize the big feelings we all experience!

Initiation and executive functioning skills:

We’ve all struggled with initiation at some point in our lives; we need to complete items on an ever-growing to-do list, but just don’t know where to start! Kids experience this, too.

For children who are competitive, make a contest out of completing tasks. See who can complete their to-do list the fastest, but with the best quality, too! Teaching children and teens how to become more independent with initiation can be fun and successful.

Shifting as an executive function:

Shifting is often combined with attention, since shifting requires the individual to determine what is important and focus on that, rather than what they might have been doing or thinking before.

Take, for example, a student who was writing a paper on a Shakespearean play for their English class. They’ve now finished the assignment and have moved on to a worksheet on the quadratic formula. Their mind needs to completely turn “off” Shakespeare and turn “on” the quadratic formula.

Luckily, there are many activities for attention. One fun way is to build an obstacle course. Each time the child completes the course, change one of the rules!

For example, the second time, they can only touch primary colors or can only hop on one foot in between obstacles. They will not only need to remember what the new rule is, but they will have to shift away from the old rules!

Inhibition and executive functioning:

Inhibition is often referred to as impulse control. It can be an exhausting component of executive functioning, as it can lead to significant safety concerns.

One way to improve impulse control with younger children is through the game “Red Light, Green Light.” Many children (even early teenagers) enjoy playing versions of “Floor is Lava,” avoiding certain materials as they attempt to navigate a room. This can also be a great way to work on working memory!

Working memory as an executive function:

Working memory can be a significant challenge for many individuals. Working memory requires us to retain learned information and use it during daily activities.

There are many ways to support working memory development and deficits. There are many task-management apps available, even for things like medication management. For activities to improve working memory, try playing games like Magic Labyrinth, Melissa and Doug’s Sandwich Stacking Game, or making a recipe!

Planning/organizing for executive functioning success:

Planning for projects and organizing ideas is stressful! It can be helpful to go through large assignments one at a time. Break the assignment into manageable pieces, including what materials are needed for that step and when that step needs to be completed.

The good news is that these skills can experience definite improvements with practice. Check out this link for more information and strategies.

Organization of materials and executive functioning:

Messy rooms with laundry covering the floor, desks and lockers overflowing with paper, expandable folders filled to the brim with assignments—these are the signs of a disorganized student! Organization is often the first thing to go when a person feels stressed or overwhelmed, as it can be time-consuming.

To support a child’s organization skills development, try making checklists for their locker or desk. As they place each item into their backpack, they can check a box to make sure they have everything they need before they go! Or, use labels to clearly define where belongings go in a closet or on a bookshelf.

Executive functioning skills in kids are needed for complex multi step tasks, completion of tasks, and learning.

Monitoring for executive functioning success:

Monitoring is important since we all interactive with others on a daily basis! Monitoring is the acknowledgement that we behave in certain ways and that these behaviors can affect other people.

Self-reflection (mentioned above) can be a good way to promote monitoring. An individual can process through what they think went well, what they struggled with, and how they think others felt during these events. Behavior charts can also be helpful by clearly listing out what the expectation is and whether the individual demonstrated that skill area. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage self-monitoring as much as possible, rather than adults monitoring the child. The possibilities for monitoring strategies  are diverse and it’s possible to find something that works for each person.

More Executive Functioning Skills Resources:

  • Free Executive Function Mini-Course- Wondering about what are executive functioning skills? This Executive Functioning Skills Course is a FREE, 5-day email course that will help you understand executive functioning and all that is included in the set of mental skills.
  • This collection of executive functioning skills resources outline many aspects of higher cognitive skills through various EF skill areas.
  • Getting organized can be a start to addressing several executive functioning skill areas. Here is a collection of organization strategies, tips, and tools.
What are executive functioning skills? This resource on attention, organization, planning, and other executive functions helps kids develop skills needed for learning.
The OT Toolbox contributing author, Emily Skaletski, MOT, OTR/L

This post was written by contributing author, Emily Skaletski, MOT, OTR/L is a pediatric occupational therapist in the Madison, WI area. Emily participated in the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association’s Emerging Leaders Program (2016), earned her level 1 digital badge in autism from the American Occupational Therapy Association (2017), received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Chatham University (2018), and was appointed the South-Central District Co-Chair of the Wisconsin Occupational Therapy Association (2019). Emily has presented at both state and national conferences and is passionate about professional development. While trained as a generalist, Emily particularly enjoys working with clients with autism spectrum disorder and challenges related to executive functioning skills.

Resources for Adults With Executive Function Disorder

Resources for adults with executive function disorder
Here, you will find tools and information for adult executive function disorder and executive functioning issues that impact the way we pay attention, focus, plan, and prioritize. These are strategies that can impact executive functioning needs so that organization, impulse control, planning, time management, and other executive functioning skills are improved and regulated in daily life tasks.
 
My daughter has battled Executive Function Disorder all of her life, but right now, it is really preventing her from moving forward with her life. Things like completing a task, making decisions, time management, and projecting ahead are SO HARD. Is there anything that can help my adult daughter struggling with executive functioning disorder?
 
Does this sound at all familiar? So often, executive functioning challenges are present in adults. In fact, there are everyday challenges that are very difficult for adults with executive functioning needs. Things like organization, planning, and flexible thinking can be a real struggle. As kids with these challenges move into adulthood, some areas that we might expect to develop just never seem to change. It’s not uncommon; the fact is that executive functioning skills are a very broad set of skills. Forgetting things, difficulty with inhibiting behaviors or actions, trouble with planning big projects, or staying organized in the daily life of an adult…everyone deals with these challenges at one time or another. The challenges become a problem when  social, emotional, intellectual, or organizational aspects are disrupted.  A person’s career/job/family life/etc. can be devastated by difficulties with executive functioning skills. 
 

Difficulties with the higher-level cognitive skills that make up executive function can impact adults by limiting one’s ability to “connect the dots” and can impact other areas of executive functioning as well. 

 
For the adult with executive function disorder, challenges can present in many different ways. There may be no trouble with impulsivity or attention struggles, however other mental skills can be quite difficulty. Sometimes, seeing the “big picture” is the problem. For others, it’s just making decisions. Still others lack time management and have difficulty with multi-tasking. 
 
 

 

Adults with executive function disorder can struggle with organization, trouble with planning, prioritization, etc.Here are tools and strategies to help the adult with executive function problems.i

 

 
 

Executive Function in Adults

Here’s the thing: There is a lot of information out there for kids who are struggling with these areas. However, for most of us, executive functioning skills are still developing well into the adult years. In fact, executive function skills don’t typically develop until the early 20s. Development of executive functioning skills occurs up through the college years (and beyond), making that transition from the home setting of high-school into a college dorm very difficult for many. 
 
So, for some adults who are challenged in these areas, there can be simply a few accommodations or strategies put into place. Simply using a few set of tools designed to address these needs can allow for improved skills like organization and time management which are then carried over to other areas. 
 
For other adults who may have always struggled with seeing the big picture, planning tasks, or staying focused on a task, this is the typical development for that individual. In other words, some adults may be gaining improvements and strengthening the skills they’ve got, just at a lower level than another adult. In these cases, strategies and tools can make a difference here, too. 
 
Below, you will find curated information from around the web that will be instrumental in making an effortful improvement in executive functioning needs. Read through this information and use it as best fits the needs you or an adult with executive functioning challenges might be experiencing. Remember that everyone is different in their strengths, weaknesses, needs, interests, and experiences. This information is not intended to treat or address specific needs, but rather, as educational material. Seek professional help when needed. 
 

Adult Executive Functioning Disorder

 
There are several areas that may be an area of difficulty for the adult with executive functioning challenges. Some of these problem areas may include:
Difficulty making plans
Difficulty making decisions
Time management
Trouble with organization
Difficulty keeping important papers organized
Trouble prioritizing 
Poor emotional control 
Difficulty with flexible thinking
Trouble thinking “on the spot”
Trouble using a schedule
Trouble getting out of the house on time
Trouble with impulsive buys
Difficulty paying bills on time
Difficulty with losing keys or important items
Trouble following through with plans
Trouble picking the most important tasks
Trouble doing the important parts of tasks first
Trying to do too much at once
Constantly running late
Difficulty listening to a person talking without thinking of other things
Easily frustrated
Forget the last step/steps in a multi-step task
 
It’s easy to see how the list above can look so different for different people, especially when considering aspects such as job requirements, family obligations, outside situations or other issues that may make a difference in the occupational performance of an individual. 
 
Adults with executive function disorder can struggle with organization, trouble with planning, prioritization, etc.Here are tools and strategies to help the adult with executive function problems.i
 
Some easy to apply tools can include low-tech or high-tech strategies such as:
 
  • Use a paper planner or calendar to keep track of obligations
  • Set up a filing system to keep track of and manage mail and important papers
  • Use highlighters and colorful sticky notes to make a visual organization system
  • Use apps to stay organized. Here are some Alexa Skills that can help with executive functioning skills like organization, etc.
  • Set up calendar reminders on a phone or smartwatch
  • Set up automatic payment plans for bills
  • Brainstorm routines and weekly/daily tasks and strategies to make decision-making less stressful and easier
  • Think through and visualize the day or week ahead and predict any challenge that may arise
  • Create routines and calendars for ongoing tasks
  • Create brain dumping lists for big tasks and set goals with specific dates and timelines
  • Use a daily journal to track each day’s events. The Impulse Control Journal can be used by adults as well as kids. The “look” of the journal is not childish, and has many components that can translate to an adult’s needs in promoting organizational, time management, etc. 


More Resources for Adults with Executive Function Disorder

Here are some symptoms of executive function disorder in adults. Some of the symptoms include time blindness, self-motivation, and an inability to keep future events in mind. Do these symptoms sound familiar?


One symptom that is mentioned is the regulation of one’s non-verbal working memory, or our inner critic. This is an area that can be detrimental to some, especially when self-conscious of weaknesses that impact life choices or struggles.  Here is one simple strategy for self-talk in kids, but can be morphed into an age-appropriate version for adults. 

If an adult or someone who is trying to help an adult with executive function needs would like to look into testing, here is a self-test that may help with self-awareness of the problems that can easily be addressed through strategies and tools. Use this information to move forward with professional help if necessary. 

Another article that can “bring to light” some of the concerns with executive functioning needs is this article about the day in the life of an adult with EFD. It really highlights the challenge of managing other people’s schedules, the workplace juggling act, and managing relationships.

Time management tools, including simple planners and time management apps can be helpful. Here are more tools for addressing time management and other tools such as motivation, scheduling, prioritization, and other challenges. 

This article discusses ADHD, but a lot of the tips and strategies can carryover to any need with planning ahead.


Finally, remember that many of the executive functioning strategies that are out there and presented in books can be used just as easily and seamlessly by adults. The same strategies that work for keeping track of homework tasks by a child can be used by an adult who needs to manage bills and important papers. 

 

How to plan and prioritize tasks

The Impulse Control Journal is your guide to addressing the underlying skills that play into trouble with planning and prioritization. 

The journal is an 80 page collection of worksheets and prompts to discover what’s really going on behind executive functioning skills like planning, organization, prioritization, working memory, and of course, impulse control. 

While the guide was developed for students of all ages, this printable workbook is perfect for adults, too. It can help you discover strategies that make a real impact for all of the skills needed to get things done. 

Here’s the thing; Everyone is SO different when it comes to struggles related to executive functioning and everyone’s interests, needs, challenges, strengths, and weaknesses are different too. All of these areas play into the challenges we see on the surface. And, this is where the Impulse Control Journal really hits those strengths, weaknesses, and challenges where it matters…in creating a plan that really works for kids of all ages (and adults, too!)


Check out the Impulse Control Journal, and grab it before the end of February, because you’ll get a bonus packet of Coping Cards while the journal is at it’s lowest price. 


The Impulse Control Journal has been totally revamped to include 79 pages of tools to address the habits, mindset, routines, and strategies to address impulse control in kids. 
 
More about the Impulse Control Journal:
  • 30 Drawing Journal Pages to reflect and pinpoint individual strategies 
  • 28 Journal Lists so kids can write quick checklists regarding strengths, qualities, supports, areas of need, and insights 
  • 8 Journaling worksheets to pinpoint coping skills, feelings, emotions, and strategies that work for the individual 
  • Daily and Weekly tracking sheets for keeping track of tasks and goals 
  • Mindset,Vision, and Habit pages for helping kids make an impact 
  • Self-evaluation sheets to self-reflect and identify when inhibition is hard and what choices look like 
  • Daily tracker pages so your child can keep track of their day 
  • Task lists to monitor chores and daily tasks so it gets done everyday  
  • Journal pages to help improve new habits  
  • Charts and guides for monitoring impulse control so your child can improve their self confidence
  • Strategy journal pages to help kids use self-reflection and self-regulation so they can succeed at home and in the classroom  
  • Goal sheets for setting goals and working to meet those goals while improving persistence  
  • Tools for improving mindset to help kids create a set of coping strategies that work for their needs  
This is a HUGE digital resource that you can download and print to use over and over again.  
 
 
These tips and strategies to help with executive functioning skills can be used by adults who are challenged with difficulty in planning, prioritization, organization and other cognitive skills.

Executive Functioning Resources on Therapy Thursday

Below, you will find a collection of executive functioning resources and tools for improving executive functioning skills that can be used in the home, school, therapy clinic, or anywhere!

So, I’m hearing lots of happy chatter about this new email series happening each Thursday!

Therapy Thursday has been off to a fantastic start. If you have missed some of the newsletters, have no fear. I’ve been compiling each week’s newsletter into a blog post and posting them on The OT Toolbox. Each newsletter in Therapy Thursday is chock full of resources and info on one specific topic. If you would like to join The OT Toolbox newsletter, add your email here.

Use these executive functioning resources to improve and develop executive functioning skills at home or in the classroom.

This week, we’re about Executive Functioning Skills!

If you follow The OT Toolbox, then you know we have a lot of resources on executive functioning skills. In fact, we even have an Executive Functioning Skills Toolbox Facebook Page! (Follow along for lots of resources curated from around the web!)

Here are strategies to help the adult with executive function disorder. Many of these tips and strategies are great for teens as well.

Let’s start at the beginning:

What are Executive Functioning Skills? 

Executive Functioning Skills guide everything we do, from making decisions, to staying on track with an activity, to planning and prioritizing a task.  The ability to make a decision, plan it out, and act on it without being distracted is what allows us to accomplish the most mundane of tasks to the more complicated and multi-step actions.

Children with executive functioning issues will suffer in a multitude of ways.

Some kids have many deficits in EF and others fall behind in several or all areas. _Everyone_ needs to develop and build executive functions as they grow.  Functional adults may still be struggling with aspects of executive functioning skills. These cognitive skills are an interconnected web of processing that allows for self-regulation, planning, organization, and memory.

Executive Functioning Skills are essential for learning, behavior, and development.  All of these skills work together and impact other areas.

**Executive Functioning Skills include:**
Emotional Control
Task Initiation
Task Completion
Working Memory
Planning
Prioritizing
Processing Speed
Organization
Attention
Self-Monitoring
Impulse Control
Cognitive Flexibility
Foresight
Hindsight
Self-Talk
Problem Solving
Persistence
Shift

Executive functioning skills development begins at a very early age. Click here to read more about executive functioning skill development.

Resources for Improving Executive Functioning Skills

Get a free three page printable packet of sheets that can help with impulse control.

Executive functions are heavily dependent on attention.  Read about the attention and executive functioning skill connection and the impact of attention on each of the executive functioning skills that children require and use every day.

Check out these fun games to help improve executive function skills.

Another area of interest to you might be the impact executive functioning skills have on handwriting.

Here are strategies for improving task initiation.

Read about tips for improving working memory.

Here are tons of tips for addressing organization issues at home or in school. These are great for younger kids through adult!

Here are many activities and loads of information on improving attention in kids.
Helping kids with impulse control can be a big challenge! Here are tips that can help.

That’s why I created The Impulse Control Journal.

The Impulse control journal is a printable journal for kids that helps them to identify goals, assess successes, and address areas of needs.  The Impulse Control Journal is a printable packet of sheets that help kids with impulse control needs.

Read more about The Impulse Control Journal HERE

The Impulse Control Journal has been totally revamped to include 79 pages of tools to address the habits, mindst, routines, and strategies to address impulse control in kids. 

More about the Impulse Control Journal:

  • 30 Drawing Journal Pages to reflect and pinpoint individual strategies 
  • 28 Journal Lists so kids can write quick checklists regarding strengths, qualities, supports, areas of need, and insights 
  • 8 Journaling worksheets to pinpoint coping skills, feelings, emotions, and strategies that work for the individual 
  • Daily and Weekly tracking sheets for keeping track of tasks and goals 
  • Mindset,Vision, and Habit pages for helping kids make an impact 
  • Self-evaluation sheets to self-reflect and identify when inhibition is hard and what choices look like 
  • Daily tracker pages so your child can keep track of their day 
  • Task lists to monitor chores and daily tasks so it gets done everyday  
  • Journal pages to help improve new habits  
  • Charts and guides for monitoring impulse control so your child can improve their self-confidence  
  • Strategy journal pages to help kids use self-reflection and self-regulation so they can succeed at home and in the classroom  
  • Goal sheets for setting goals and working to meet those goals while improving persistence  
  • Tools for improving mindset to help kids create a set of coping strategies that work for their needs  
  
This is a HUGE digital resource that you can download and print to use over and over again.  





Bonus for subscribers only:

Subscribers of The OT Toolbox newsletter are getting a weekly email with loads of resources focusing on a specific topic. This week’s subscribers also got a free printable sheet and a special discount on an executive functioning resource. If you would like to get in on these perks, join us as a newsletter subscriber
Your privacy is important, and as a subscriber, we will never sell your information or use it maliciously. Read more about our privacy policy HERE.
Watch your inbox for next week’s Therapy Thursday!
Try these executive functioning resources to improve executive function in kids.

What is Executive Function in Child Development

Childhood development occurs naturally and at an extremely fast rate. When wondering what is executive function in child development, this breakdown of executive functioning skills development will help explain how children develop in attention, impulsivity, attention, and other executive function skills.

As a newborn is held and snuggled, development is happening. One aspect of development that occurs throughout childhood and even as an adult are executive functioning skills. When you consider what is executive functioning skills, you might think that the development of these essential skills happen later in childhood and in the teen years. However, the baseline of executive functioning skills occurs in infancy! In this article, you will find information on the development of executive functioning skills as well as identifying red flags for problems with executive functioning skill development.

When wondering what is executive function in child development, this breakdown of executive functioning skills development will help parents and teachers understand how children develop in attention, impulsivity, attention, and other executive function skills.

Executive Functioning Skills in Child Development

Studies have shown that executive functioning development in childhood occurs in different contexts for different age ranges and in a general process. Executive functioning skills are a set of abilities that are essential for thinking through and completing tasks. They are the skills that allow us to problem solve, initiate and complete tasks, and sustain attention through the completion of a task. Executive functioning skills are necessary for tasks such as getting dressed and ready for the day, completing homework, or making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They are needed for every multi-step activity we do!

Here are more executive functioning resources to fill your therapy toolbox!


Here are strategies to help the adult with executive function disorder. Many of these tips and strategies are great for teens as well. 

There are many sub-areas that make up executive functioning skills.

Executive function skills are present in our cognition:
Working memory
Planning
Organization
Time management
Metacognition

Executive function skills are present in our behaviors:
Response inhibition
Emotional control
Sustained attention
Task initiation
Goal persistence
Flexibility

You can read more about executive functioning skills as well as find activities to promote executive functioning skills here on The OT Toolbox.

You might be interested in games to help improve executive function skills.

Development of Executive Functioning Skills

Aspects of executive functioning skills are developed from a very young age.  The skills are then extended and further developed throughout childhood and into the teen years. Executive functioning skills continue to develop in adulthood.

Executive Functioning Skill Development in Infancy

The following executive functioning skills begin development at 6-12 months of age:
Response inhibition- This skill is not an obvious one, but includes “stranger danger” when a baby responds to one adult but not another.
Working Memory- Babies begin to recognize familiar faces. They recall and remember those familiar faces utilizing working memory. They are able to store that information and retrieve it when they see a face. Attachment that begins in the infancy stages of life also are influenced by working memory. Favorite toys and soothing items such as preferred pacifiers, blankets, and soothing positions are influenced by working memory.
Emotional Control- While it is true that infants do not have the ability to control their emotions, this is a skill that is just beginning to develop as babies are able to be settled down by certain individuals they are familiar with. Attachment and responding to one adult but not another is influenced by the initial development of emotional control as infants feel safe and loved by members of their family.
Attention- This executive functioning skill begins as an infant is able to make eye contact and follow objects with their eyes. Attention is developed greatly in the first year. Consider the length of time a 12 month old can sustain attention on a preferred toys in in play.

Executive Functioning Skill Development from 12-24 months

Flexibility is a skill that develops greatly during these months. While the ability to inhibit impulses, sustain attention, control emotions, and utilize flexibility in thought are very low at this age, they do develop in relation by the second year of life. Working Memory, emotional control, attention, task initiation, and goal persistence develop throughout the second year of life. Much of this development occurs through play.

Executive Functioning Skill Development in the Preschool Years

In preschool, children are able to run simple errands using working memory, sustained attention, and goal persistence. They are able to clean a room with help, clean up their plate, get dressed, and begin to inhibit behaviors. Preschool aged children can understand and recall instructions such as “Don’t touch the stove”, “We don’t push”, “We share toys”, etc.

Executive Functioning Skill Development in Kindergarten through Second Grade

In these years of schooling, children are able to follow 2-3 step errands such as cleaning a room independently, simple chores, and multiple step grooming and dressing tasks.

Executive functioning skill development in grades 3-5

In this stage of childhood, children are able to complete multiple step tasks and maintain sustained attention. They are able to read and follow chapter books that require extended working memory and pick up on projects that require sustained attention and goal persistence. Flexibility is further improved.

Executive functioning skill development in grades 6-8

In this stage, a child’s working memory develops as they are able to complete more complex tasks.They are able to perform multiple step math and word problems toward the end of this age range. Critical thinking improves between the ages of 6 and 8. Students exhibit increasing impulse control in the school environment and other places where rules are in place.

Print off this free printable packet to address needs with impulse control. You will also receive a short email series loaded with information related to impulse control strategies and resources.

Executive function skill development in grades 9-12

Executive functioning skills are increasingly developed in the high school years. Emotional regulation, response inhibition, goal persistence, flexibility, sustained attention are all related to the behavioral response of persisting, initiating, and completing tasks. We can see a big difference between the high school freshman  and the high school senior in behavior and all of the these executive functioning skills relate to behaviors and the act of “doing” skills. In this stage, students typically demonstrate and increasing ability to plan and complete multiple step tasks while generally performing less risky behavior as they progress toward the higher end of this stage.

Executive functioning skills related to cognition are also greatly impacted during these years. Planning, organization, time management, and metacognition are developed and then refined in these years.

Executive functioning skill development age 18-20

Executive functioning skills are greatly developed during the ages of 18 through 20. Skills enable the ability to maintain a working schedule and perform the requirements of jobs, friendship, and family. Task initiation, persistence, emotional regulation, metacognition, planning, organization, and goal persistence are greatly refined. In this stage we can see the student heading off to college who needs to incorporate these skills independently in order to multi-task and complete the requirements of a job, schooling, or both.

Executive skill development in adulthood

As adults, we continue to refine executive functioning skills. While distractions are a fact of life, we are able to maintain sustained attention while fending off those distractions. We are able to maintain several schedules, a job, tasks of the home, responsibilities, and those of children and family. In this stage of life, we are able to to understand and seek out tools for making executive functioning skills easier such as planners, organization strategies, minimizing of distractions, calendars, etc.

Looking to build executive functioning skills?  Follow our new Executive Functioning Toolbox Facebook Page for strategies, ideas, and tools to help build executive function.

More tools for addressing attention in kids

There are so many strategies to address attention in kids and activities that can help address attention needs. One tactic that can be a big help is analyzing precursors to behaviors related to attention and addressing underlying needs. 

The Attention and Sensory Workbook can be a way to do just that. 

The Attention and Sensory Workbook is a free printable resource for parents, teachers, and therapists. It is a printable workbook and includes so much information on the connection between attention and sensory needs. 

Here’s what you can find in the Attention and Sensory Workbook

  • Includes information on boosting attention through the senses
  • Discusses how sensory and learning are connected
  • Provides movement and sensory motor activity ideas
  • Includes workbook pages for creating movement and sensory strategies to improve attention


little more about the Attention and Sensory Workbook: 


Sensory processing is the ability to register, screen, organize, and interpret information from our senses and the environment. This process allows us to filter out some unnecessary information so that we can attend to what is important. Kids with sensory challenges often time have difficulty with attention as a result.

It’s been found that there is a co-morbidity of 40-60% of ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder. This workbook is an actionable guide to help teachers, therapists, and parents to help kids boost attention and focus in the classroom by mastering sensory processing needs. 

You will find information on the sensory system and how it impacts attention and learning. There are step-by-step strategies for improving focus, and sensory-based tips and tricks that will benefit the whole classroom.

The workbook provides tactics to address attention and sensory processing as a combined strategy and overall function. There are charts for activities, forms for assessment of impact, workbook pages for accommodations, and sensory strategy forms.


Grab the Attention and Sensory Workbook by clicking HERE or on the image below.

Attention and sensory workbook activities for improving attention in kids
When wondering what is executive function in child development, this breakdown of executive functioning skills development will help parents and teachers understand how children develop in attention, impulsivity, attention, and other executive function skills.

Games to Help Kids Improve Executive Functioning Skills

Executive function is a set of cognitive skills that allows us to perform tasks. Use this list of games and toys to help kids build and establish executive functioning skills in the home, school, or community. These are great games to use in therapy to boost executive function for improved independence, safety, and task completion.

These games are fun ways to help kids improve executive function skills.

What is Executive Functioning?



There is much that can be read about executive function.  Essentially, executive functioning skills include the ability to perform a series of skills during functional tasks.  These include attention, impulse control, emotional control, flexible thinking, working memory, self-monitoring, planning and prioritizing, task initiation, and organization.  Looking at this skills set, executive function skills are essential for independence in most tasks.  


For the younger child, executive function abilities present themselves when they perform a multi-step task such as completing the parts of a morning routine.  Parental involvement and the prompting that comes with young kids are more involved.  When a child is able to perform a multi-step process with more independence, they may be able to prepare their cereal, clean up the dishes, brush their teeth, get dressed, gather items needed for the day, and leave the house even when a shoe is hidden under a table, the toothpaste spills, and the dishwasher is too full to add another bowl.


Executive functioning is initiating a task, adjusting to problems, negotiating obstacles, while organizing and prioritizing all of the steps and details.


Children can strengthen executive functioning skills in fun and creative ways.


RELATED READ: Sometimes executive function skills are to blame for sloppy handwriting.

Try these toys and tools to help kids improve executive function skills:

Affiliate links are included.

 

 Executive function memory cards game for kids

 

These Executive Function Memory Cards can help boost working memory and other executive function skills.  Four card games are included.
 
 Executive function game for helping kids deal with distractions
 
Distraction is a game that can help boost working memory and recall with fun questions. This game would be perfect for family game night!
 
 Visual Brainstorms game is great for improving executive functioning skills
 
Visual Brainstorms Game can help kids address executive functioning abilities by addressing problem solving, prioritizing, reasoning, logic, and abstract thinking.
 
 Executive function game for helping kids with self control
 
Learning Self-Control in School is a game that addresses planning, attention, and consequences to behaviors. 
 Consequences game
 
The game Consequences can help kids learn that their actions have consequences! It’s a good game for younger kids.
 
 What Do I Feel emotions game for kids
 
What Do I Feel is a game that allows kids to explore emotions and address emotional control as they respond to different scenarios.
 
 Memory game to help with executive function
 
This Memory Chess Game is a fun game to address focus, working memory, and concentration.  It’s got a great fine motor component, too.
 
 Original memory game
 
The Original Memory Game is the one that has spurred a TON of varieties of matching, memory, and concentration. 
Try these games and toys to improve executive function skills

More tools for addressing attention needs in kids

There are so many strategies to address attention in kids and activities that can help address attention needs. One tactic that can be a big help is analyzing precursors to behaviors related to attention and addressing underlying needs. 

The Attention and Sensory Workbook can be a way to do just that. 

The Attention and Sensory Workbook is a free printable resource for parents, teachers, and therapists. It is a printable workbook and includes so much information on the connection between attention and sensory needs. 

Here’s what you can find in the Attention and Sensory Workbook

  • Includes information on boosting attention through the senses
  • Discusses how sensory and learning are connected
  • Provides movement and sensory motor activity ideas
  • Includes workbook pages for creating movement and sensory strategies to improve attention


little more about the Attention and Sensory Workbook: 


Sensory processing is the ability to register, screen, organize, and interpret information from our senses and the environment. This process allows us to filter out some unnecessary information so that we can attend to what is important. Kids with sensory challenges often time have difficulty with attention as a result.

It’s been found that there is a co-morbidity of 40-60% of ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder. This workbook is an actionable guide to help teachers, therapists, and parents to help kids boost attention and focus in the classroom by mastering sensory processing needs. 

You will find information on the sensory system and how it impacts attention and learning. There are step-by-step strategies for improving focus, and sensory-based tips and tricks that will benefit the whole classroom.

The workbook provides tactics to address attention and sensory processing as a combined strategy and overall function. There are charts for activities, forms for assessment of impact, workbook pages for accommodations, and sensory strategy forms.
 
Grab the Attention and Sensory Workbook by clicking HERE or on the image below.
 
Attention and sensory workbook activities for improving attention in kids

Help your Sensory Child Get Organized Strategies for Planning and Prioritizing Life

This is a small series I’m sharing this month, called Get Your Sensory Child Organized.  These are tips and ideas for helping your child with sensory processing concerns and other underlying problem areas get organized and start planning and prioritizing tasks.  These are the kids that look sloppy or lazy, but really have problems with fine motor, visual motor, gross motor, attention, executive functioning, and many other areas.  All of these problem areas will interfere with task completion and will lead to sloppy closets, messy desks, and homework that is not completed.  



Real tips for kids with sensory needs to get organized at home and school from an Occupational Therapist


If you know a child who is having trouble getting organized, then this series is for you!  Be sure to stop back to get all of the tips!

How to Help Sensory Kids Get Organized

These are the posts you will be seeing from us, soon!  Be sure to stop back and see them all.

 help kids get organized with tips from an Occupational Therapist

Help Your Sensory Kids Organized in SCHOOL: Read the full article HERE.
Our first post in the series is live!  If you know a child or student who has a sloppy desk, crammed locker, misplaced materials, and forgotten homework, then this post is for you!

Help Your Sensory Kids Get Your Kids Organized AT HOME:  Read the full article HERE After-school routines, homework struggles, afternoon free-time, extra-curricular activities, organizing the home and prepping for the next day, cooperative family work, fun family time, and more.

Sensory Considerations in Organization and Attention: Read the full article HERE.  Sometimes, attention and sensory processing issues have a huge factor in organizing a child.
Helping kids with sensory processing disorder get organized in school, in the mornings, and after school.

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42 Ways to Help Messy Kids Organize Their Schoolwork

Kids need Organization Skills in order to function during their school day.

A student’s desk is so over-stuffed that papers are crammed in among pencils, books, last week’s homework, and the missing permission slip for today’s field trip.



A backpack that is filled with crumbled papers, broken pencils, toys, and crumbs from last week’s lunch.



A locker that doesn’t shut because granola bar wrappers, overdue library books, three sweatshirts, and last semester’s gym shorts.
A homework folder that is so full that it doesn’t shut flat, filled with doodles, notes from teachers, homework, and yesterday’s test that needed a parent signature.


How can a child function during their school day when they are so disorganized that desks, backpacks, lockers, and folders are so overwhelming?  


As an Occupational Therapist in the schools, I often times had referrals for kids with organizational difficulties: messy desks, overstuffed book bags, trouble with keeping homework and classroom assignments organized, lost or missing parent/teacher communication, and the ability to organize and care for one’s own belongings during their school day.






Organization tips for students in the classroom. So many ideas here from an Occupational Therapist on how to help kids with disorganization problems and help students with organizing their school work.



How to Help Kids Organize their School Work

There are many ways that a student can overcome disorganization and flourish in school with systems that work for them.  As with any Occupational Therapy recommendation, ideas are individualized to meet the student’s needs.  Every child is different in their strengths, abilities, and needs and what works to organize one student will not work with another.  Today, I’m sharing tips and tools to help organize students so that they may learn in the classroom and school environment.


These sensory strategies for school based occupational therapists can be a big help in addressing the organizational needs of students.

What causes a student to become so disorganized that they cannot complete classroom requirements?

There are many diagnoses that have symptoms of disorganization.  ADHD, Autism, and Learning Disabilities are just a few.  Additionally, many students do not have a diagnosis and are disorganized in their school tasks. There are so many causes of disorganization that describing contributing factors is a more efficient way to describe reasons why a student may be disorganized. Problems with attention, executive functioning, fine motor skills, and vision may contribute to disorganization, among many others:

Problem Areas leading to disorganization:

Studies show that individuals with a small or underdeveloped frontal lobe of the brain tend to have difficulties with organization, poor memory, emotional reactions, and they tend to become overwhelmed by simple tasks.  These individuals will have trouble keeping themselves organized in tasks.


Often times, organization challenges are a result of difficulty with planning and prioritizing tasks. These problem areas may be contributing to a child’s disorganization in school:


Attention difficulties

Sensory issues
Behavior
Executive Functioning
Visual Perceptual difficulties
Visual Motor difficulties
Cognitive deficits
Fine motor problems
Motor Planning issues
Hyperactivitiy
Distractabilitiy
Fidgeting
Problem solving
Memory issues
Auditory processing problems
Language processing problems
Lack of motivation
Poor impulse control
Emotional instability

Executive Functioning and Organization difficulties

Executive functioning is needed to keep up with the growing to-do list of the school’s day.  A child with executive function difficulties can’t see the first step they need to take in a project.

Taking home a daily planner, packing a backpack, arranging items in a desk, placing homework into the correct bin, all requires working memory, motivation, cognitive skills, focus, planning, and persistence.  Difficulties in any of these areas will result in a breakdown of task completion.


So, how can a student with organization problems be helped so that they can complete assignments, function in their school day, and excel in learning?



Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.


Organization tips for students in the classroom. So many ideas here from an Occupational Therapist on how to help kids with disorganization problems and help students with organizing their school work.



Organization Tips for Students

Try these tips to help organize students in the classroom:
  1. Develop routines and stick to them. Morning routines can involve unpacking a backpack, planning homework into correct bins, putting away items needed for the day, sitting at the desk, and starting on morning work.  Maintain a consistent routine. Develop routines for different parts of the student’s day.  Social stories, picture schedules, story stones, and physical routing minders can help.
  2. Use a simple Schoolwork Folder system. Create a system for paperwork that needs to come back to school and what can stay at home.  A simple 2 pocket folders
    works best for this.  Adding extra pages or parts to the folder creates too much visual input.  Add a bright sticker to one pocket for “Keep at Home” and a bright sticker for the pocket to “Bring Back”.  A plastic folder is more durable. Older students can use color coded folders for each subject.
  3. Clear document folders
    in different colors can be used to coordinate with each subject’s color.

  4. Create a container system for lockers. Use one container for hat, gloves, scarf, and one container for books.  The container can be emptied into the backpack at the end of the day.  Add pictures to the locker for a visual cue for where the coat, lunchbox, and backpack should hang. Add shelves if needed.
  5. Picture Symbols. A visual cue is a great way to break down tasks.  Create a series of pictures for desk morning tasks, lunch tasks, or end-of-the-day tasks. Pictures can be printed off in a strip and the strips replaced as the day goes by.
  6. Use checklists. Make checklists that the student can mark off tasks as they are completed. Using a checklist is a great way to incorporate handwriting skills into the routine.  Marking a check mark or “x” in a small box allows for precision of motor movements.
  7. Eliminate dropping of the pencil.  Students with organizational problems often times have difficulty with fidgeting, sensory issues, fine motor skills, attention…(all of the items described in the list above!) Dropping the pencil can create a break in attention that allows for further disorganization.  Tie the pencil to the desk to prevent dropping: Tie a string to the eraser end of the pencil and tie the end of the string to a suction cup
    .  Attach the suction cup to the desk surface.
  8.  Homework assignments should be written in the same place on the blackboard each day.
  9. Allow time at the beginning of the class or day instead of at the end to write down that day’s homework.  
  10. Teachers can sign off in an assignment book after the student writes down the day’s homework.  Provide a space for parent sign-off after homework has been completed.
  11. Reward systems. Set up an incentive or reward system for appropriate organization of folders, backpack, locker, or homework completion.  These can be tailored to the student’s interests.
  12. Use a second set of textbooks at home to eliminate the need to bring books back and forth between school and home.
  13. Break long term projects into smaller tasks with deadlines.
  14. Color code notebooks, folders, book covers, and workbooks.  Books and notebooks can use prefabricated book covers or you can use colored paper to create book covers in a variety of colors. Add a small colored dot on homework assignments that correspond with the color of the subject’s book.  Use markers or small stickers
    to color code homework.
  15. Use a zippered pouch
    for pencils, erasers, calculators, etc in the backpack.  This will reduce the items “floating around” in the backpack.
  16. Parents can be provided with a small list of students in the class that can help with homework assignment questions.  These students or parents can be called if there are questions about assignments.
  17. Place a checklist of what needs to be brought home each day in the locker or in the desk.
  18. Use a monthly calendar to keep track of long-term assignments and weekly classes like gym or library.
  19. Develop a written contract of organization tasks with the student, teacher, and parent, along with choices for the student.
  20. Mailed homework. The parents would need to provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope and the teacher can mail the next few week’s homework assignments.
  21. Clear plastic, gallon-sized bags in the backpack to hold items like gloves, gym clothes, etc.
  22. Email parent permission slips.
  23. Breakdown worksheets by folding the paper into sections that can be completed before moving on to the next section.
  24. Reduce distractions in the classroom to prevent distractability: place desk away from windows, doors, and the pencil sharpener.
  25. Provide concise and concrete directions.
  26. Use a classroom peer as an organizing mentor.
  27. Provide a daily class checklist.
  28. Mark pages in a book or workbook with a paperclip so that the student can turn to the correct page more easily and quickly.
  29. Help the student clear their desk of all items except the items they should be using. Work on getting the student to be independent in this task by using visual and verbal cues. Provide a 10 second “Clear Off” time before starting a new task to allow time for the student to clear his work space.
  30. Turn in completed assignments immediately and provide a space for completed work with clear label. A bin, file, or tray works nicely for this.
  31. Mark off spaces inside the desk for items like books and pencil box using masking tape.  The items should be “parked” in their correct space unless they are being used.
  32. Provide a low cardboard box inside desks with compartments for organizing supplies.
  33. Provide a clear plastic bin
    or shelf for the student’s items instead of using a desk or locker.
  34. Use a triangular pencil grip
    to keep pencils from rolling off desks.
  35. Provide velcro for students to attach their pencil to the desk surface or inside the desk.
  36. Try an eraser ring to prevent losing large erasers inside desks.
  37. Use a Kneadable Eraser
    . It can be stuck inside the desk when not in use and makes a great fidget toy.
  38. Use a digital clock in the classroom or timers for competing tasks.
  39. Conduct daily, weekly, and monthly clean-ups of desk, locker, and backpack.
  40. At the end of the day, help the student prepare his work space for the next day.
  41. Provide a small movement break between tasks.
  42. Allow for self-monitoring of systems.
  43. Provide tools for fidgeting.
  44. Try using an Impulse Control Journal.
Organization tips for students in the classroom. So many ideas here from an Occupational Therapist on how to help kids with disorganization problems and help students with organizing their school work.

How to Help Organize Kids Schoolwork

Organizing challenges are difficulties with prioritizing and planning.  It is difficult for some students to breakdown a multi-step assignment into manageable steps.  


Try using the tips above for organizing in the classroom.  It can take a period of monitoring along with trial and error to establish an appropriate organizational system that works for your student of child.


Organization tips for students in the classroom. So many ideas here from an Occupational Therapist on how to help kids with disorganization problems and help students with organizing their school work.



This is our first post in a new series on organization for kids.  I’ll be sharing a few other ways to help kids become organized so that they can function in daily tasks.  Stay tuned for more tips to help organize themselves.


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