Here’s a real email one of my students sent his mom last week:
Ok. I have given it everything and i have nothing I can do. My 100% just isn’t good enough to pass. It is too late to do anything. There goes that trip. I’m done.
There are so many kids with EF challenges who are going through similar overwhelm right now. Of course there are things he can do. Of course it’s not too late. But it’s important to deeply understand that this is how he feels. He is emotionally overwhelmed.
Here’s a quick pattern breakdown:
- It’s the end of the year.
- Missing and late assignments have piled up.
- Grades have plummeted.
- Overwhelm is in full force.
- Kids don’t even know where to begin because there are so many details to deal with.
- They avoid.
- Spring fever in full force too, so motivation is even lower because of this.
- Parents try every strategy they have: everything from pushing too hard to the opposite end of the spectrum and letting go completely.
- The last day of school comes in the blink of an eye.
What can you do to help your child?
In a nutshell, here are the steps I generally use to successfully help a student out of this bind:
- Get clarity on what needs to be done. How? 2 main ways: 1. Print the detailed view of the grades from each class to see the breakdown. 2. Email teachers to get clarity (see below).
- Have an emotionally calm conversation with the student to strategize chunk by chunk.
- Help them get started. SO MUCH OF THIS IS ABOUT STARTING. Help them get momentum over and over and over.
- Stay closely connected with the student to monitor progress, encourage them, help them chip away at it. This is not a quick fix or a one time conversation. It’s a few weeks of close support. (Yes, of course they are going to be resistant, but keep trying).
- Repeat steps every couple days and do not “trust” them when they say, “ok, I’ve got it, now leave me alone.” It’s not that they are “lying” to you, they simply do not have enough of the executive function skills necessary to turn it around independently yet. So stay on them, ask how you can help, don’t give up.
Here’s the advocacy email I sent to each of his teachers:
Feel free to copy, paste and edit this email for your own use. Again, if your child is in this situation and you want to help them, you need clarity asap. That’s the point of this email. I keep it short and to the point, no fluff. (ps – you can search my blog for the word “advocacy” to see other insights I have posted about advocating for your child).
Hi Ms. X,Seth Perler here. I’ve been Josh’s Executive Function coach for the past couple years.He’s struggling to pull it together in some classes right now, so I’m sending a quick email to get clarity so I can help him through the overwhelm.Looking to find out:
- How is Josh doing?
- What should he prioritize as far as makeup work is concerned?
- What big paper, exam or project is upcoming? (and is there a rubric, study guide, link, etc. for it?)Feel free to shoot me a super short email with key details.Thanks for your time,Seth
If they don’t email you back within 48 hours, resend the exact email. Make the subject line say, “IMPORTANT: JOSH”. Make the first sentence say, “Hey Ms. X. Hope you’re well. I am resending the email below because we need help ASAP! I know you’re busy, but please give me a quick response today if you can so I can support my child.”
Repeat this step every day if they don’t respond. CC it to admin or other teachers if it goes more than 2 or 3 days. You are not being annoying, you are trying to support your child.
Now take action. Good luck parents,