Finding the Right Tech Tools to Support Students’ Executive Functions

3 min read
tech tools for executive functions

When children and teens struggle with executive function, whether because of ADHD or autism, the impact can be felt in their schoolwork, social lives, and even their hobbies and home life. Luckily, there are more resources than ever to help kids overcome executive function issues. Understanding which executive function your child struggles with will guide you to some computer programs and apps that can help them develop and manage their own routines.

Planning and Time Management

One of the biggest problems of executive function disorders comes in the form of organizational deficits. These include keeping track of assignments, planning projects, and time management to meet deadlines. If your child or teen uses a cell phone, encourage them to add due dates and events to their calendar and create reminders.

Breaking tasks into smaller steps to make time management easier is also important. An online tool like Assignment Calculator can help a student break an assignment into smaller parts, each with an expected amount of time. By having smaller steps to accomplish, students feel in charge of their own goals. Additionally, apps like Stay Focused can help a child or teen apply restrictions on how much time they spend on other sites, such as social media or gaming.

Initiation

Having the initiative to start projects and finish them is an important aspect of being an engaged student. The Chrome browser extension Dayboard can help your child build a to-do list for each day, which can help give them identify those crucial first steps. Knowing where to begin a project can give them the motivation to start and stay focused on it.

Working Memory

When the brain is easily distracted or unable to focus, it can lead to issues with memory. This is especially true of students with ADHD and other focus-related issues because they might find it hard to pay attention in class long enough to absorb information and remember it later.

A tool like Mind Meister can help students learn mapping and other techniques for organizing information and building memory skills. Additionally, learning new memory-building techniques, such as Spaced Repetition, can be very beneficial.

Attention

It can be easy for kids to get distracted. There are games to play, people to talk to, and a whole world in front of you. But when it’s hard to stay focused on one project or switch tasks after a period of deep focus, it can become a big problem.

Building mindfulness is key to developing sustained, productive focus. Mindful Powers, which has the user take care of an adorable buddy, is a fun way to develop deliberate focusing skills. You might be familiar with Calm as a meditation app, but it also has content that can encourage focus and self-regulation.

Perseverance

Having the ability to stick with a task or project once it becomes difficult can be a hard skill to learn. Helping your child set small and manageable goals along the way makes the process less daunting, so they’re more likely to see things through to completion. Tools like iorad can help a student master new skills by managing their own rate of learning through step-by-step tutorials. The interactive visuals and ability to replay steps as needed can cut down on confusion and frustration.

Flexibility

It’s important for students to develop a manageable routine and understand their learning style, but what happens when their ideal conditions aren’t available? This is where flexibility comes in, so your child doesn’t experience intense anxiety when things change. Developing coping skills and identifying thought patterns are two core components of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that help decrease anxiety.

Apps like Mindshift CBT have easy-to-use visual tools that allow users to check in with their thoughts and feelings and access resources to help them cope and manage their worries. The goal is to approach anxiety-inducing situations through small, manageable steps to help your child reframe their thought process and find new solutions.

With the right support, a child or teen can improve their executive function skills and experience a world of possibilities. In addition to using online resources and apps, some students benefit from executive function coaching for a more individualized way to gain control of their learning.

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