All Kinds of News for November 08, 2017
Developing executive function and self-regulation skills is essential for learning and development. Children have the potential to develop these skills - working memory, mental flexibility and self-control. Dr. Jared Tonks, Clinical Director at Valley View School, recognizes the challenges for students with deficits in executive functioning skills. He reports, "The absence of these skills is often associated with poor academic performance and emotional health needs".
Academically, students with weak executive functioning skills struggle to:
- remember to turn in assignments.
- complete assignments on time.
- organize homework.
- effectively use a planner.
- remember key instructions.
- follow through with commitments.
Emotionally, students with weak executive functioning skills tend to:
- often feel defeated in school.
- think they are not smart enough.
- feel different from their peers.
- become frustrated and angry.
- exhibit behavior that is overly emotional, avoidant, oppositional, disrespectful or apathetic.
The stress of school, homework, and interactions with peers and adults often triggers what may be described as a trauma response for students with executive function challenges. The focus of faculty and staff at Valley View has been intervention with students struggling with executive functioning. Dr. Tonks states, "One of the great things about Valley View is that the structure of the academic program lends itself to addressing student deficits in a natural, business-as-usual way". Valley View's average of 1:3 teacher-to-student ratio in the classroom allows for greater individual student attention and close monitoring of student progress. Curriculum and assignment modifications meet student-specific needs and the ability for teachers to assist students in maintaining and organizing their study space. It is common to see teachers not only engaging in instruction, but also taking the time to guide students in homework and backpack organization, test-taking strategies, study skills and assisting students with emotional regulation. The goal at Valley View is that school for every student with executive functioning challenges does not have to be a traumatic experience.
With the addition of a special education learning specialist, the development of a student executive function skills group and increased focus on professional and staff training, Valley View School is preparing students to be successful in their future academic endeavors. Students can overcome these challenges and be empowered to achieve positive behavior leading to healthy choices and lifelong benefits.
About Valley View School
Valley View School, founded in 1970, is a private therapeutic boarding school serving boys in grades 6-12. A nonprofit 501(c)(3) school, our campus is located in the central Massachusetts town of North Brookfield. Our overall program consists of a comprehensive blend of Therapy, Academics, Athletics, Arts and Activities challenging our students emotionally, intellectually and physically. The boys learn self-control, emotional regulation and social skills in order to create and cultivate relationships with peers and adults, while developing compassion, empathy and respect for others and to realize their true potential.