A daily struggle for parents of students with executive function challenges is finding the patience needed to support your student. It can be exhausting when they seem unfocused or unclear on the work they need to do. How do other parents do it? Where do they find this seemingly endless patience?
Here are some gentle reminders:
Executive function skills are learned.
They do not come naturally to most of our students, but they can be developed. As much as everyone would love to see concrete, immediate results, the systems and routines we teach take time to develop and become habits in our students’ lives. Different systems work for different people. Some of these systems take a few months to catch on, others take years. Your student is a work in progress. You, as a parent, are also a work in progress.
Your student doesn’t fit the school system.
It’s easy to look at low grades, think there’s no growth, and feel discouraged. Grades can be a measure of success, but they don’t always reflect the success of your student. At Untapped, we value “the process” over grades. If your student sticks with the process – follows their schedule, studies accordingly, practices their routines – and gets a 50% on a test, we can live with that. If your student doesn’t commit to the process and gets a 50%, we have an issue. The process is what helps our students succeed in a system that is not conducive to their strengths.
The path to success is not a smooth ride.
“Two steps forward, one step back” is a phrase we use frequently. Over time, you are going to see some fantastic results in your student’s progress, but don’t let their setbacks deter you. It’s all a part of the process, and experiencing minor setbacks does not mean your student is not moving forward. If the setbacks start to outweigh the victories, it’s time to check in and get back to basics, but that’s a different conversation.
It’s tough when you’ve had a long day and your student says, “Yes, I finished everything,” yet you can think of a handful of uncompleted assignments. Take a breath, get ready to navigate those assignments, and remember that your student has so much potential to accomplish big things with their gifts and creativity. They can figure this out. But they need your help to reach those high achievements, and it starts with your support, love, and patience.