May 7, 2024

Partnering with Teachers to Support Your Student’s Executive Functioning Skills

By Emma Michiels, Instructor


As parents, we want the best for our students, and a big part of that is ensuring their academic success. However, some students may struggle with executive functioning skills, making it challenging for them to stay organized, manage time effectively, and complete tasks efficiently. In such cases, partnering with your student’s teachers can be a game-changer. This blog post will guide you through the process of collaborating with educators to support your student’s executive functioning skills and help them thrive in school.

Understanding Executive Functioning

Executive functioning refers to a set of mental skills that enable us to manage time, plan, organize, focus on tasks, and remember instructions. Students with executive functioning challenges may find it difficult to initiate tasks, follow multi-step directions, or stay on top of assignments. The good news is that with the right strategies and a collaborative approach, these difficulties can be addressed effectively.

  1. Open lines of communication around Executive Function skills

Establishing open and regular communication with your student’s teachers is the first step. Teachers can provide valuable insights into your student’s struggles. Ask them specific questions about your child’s executive function skills, to learn more about how they present in the classroom. Also, share challenges facing your child on the home front with regards to executive function skills (a pattern of missing materials, a tendency towards procrastination, etc.) so that the teacher has that additional information. 

  1. Check in with your student

After gathering all the data, check in with your student about how they think things are going on the executive function front. Do they feel able to organize their materials? Transition between tasks? Manage their time effectively? Encourage your student to share what they are experiencing and to reflect on their own relative strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Determine who should talk through possible interventions

If your child is on an IEP or a 504, some supports are likely already in place via team meetings. However, if your child is not yet receiving any additional support or interventions, it’s a conversation worth starting with their teacher. Ideally there would be at least three players present when discussing possible interventions: yourself, your child and the teacher. Encouraging your child to be present during collaborative problem-solving can help foster more buy-in and a greater sense of empowerment. 

Of course, teens may not want their parents present for this type of discussion at all, nor is it always appropriate. In these cases, it’s all about empowering the child to set up a meeting with his/her teacher to self-advocate directly. Teens may benefit from support rehearsing what to say, crafting a professional email and/or writing out a few talking points to guide the discussion. 

  1. Support EF skill development on the home front

Underscore the skills being practiced in school by creating an executive function-friendly home front. This may include setting up an effective home workspace with your child to help minimize distractions and help them focus. Alternatively, this could look like helping your child map out a structured weekly routine so that he/she knows when to fit in homework time, in addition to all their other responsibilities (extracurriculars, chores, afterschool job, etc.). Whatever intervention your child is moving forward with – organization, time management, etc. – try to model, practice and support that piece at home, too. 

  1. Engage in-progress monitoring

Executive function skills take a long time to cement, as habit formation is a long-term proposition. For this reason, it’s important to gather data along the way. Ask the teaching staff at school: Has your child seen any improvement in working towards his/her specific EF goal? If so, what kinds of improvements have been observed? And what are the goals moving forward? 


Working together with your student’s teachers is crucial in helping your student succeed, particularly when they struggle with executive functioning skills. By creating an open line of communication, fostering a supportive environment, and using various strategies and tools, you can empower your student to manage their challenges effectively. Remember that every child is unique, and the key to their success lies in the collaborative efforts of parents, teachers, and the students themselves. With this partnership, your student can overcome their executive functioning challenges and thrive academically and beyond.