Fostering Parent Involvement in Students’ EF Development

Fostering Parent Involvement in Students’ EF Development

This post is part of a series that highlights themes and takeaways from ResearchILD’s 37th Annual Executive Function Conference: Executive Function & Social-Emotional Learning: Promoting Resilience, Stress Management, and Academic Success. 

ResearchILD’s 37th Annual Executive Function Conference melded ideas from expert educators, administrators, researchers, and mental health professionals across the globe. During one of our lunch session panels, educators shared their journeys with executive function strategy instruction. A common theme emerged: the power of including caregivers in the EF skill-building process. Here is what our expert educators shared.

Parent-Facing EF Website

Dawn Alexander and Marissa Castoro, two educators from the Three Village School district, described recent community interest in executive function instruction as “exploding.” Recognizing the benefit of involving all stakeholders in supporting students’ EF skill development, Dawn and Marissa created an Executive Function Skills Resource website for families.

As Marissa explained, “Parents were saying to us how amazing [EF skill instruction] is, but that students were still coming home and having meltdowns… so we created a skills resource website for families.” The website defines, illustrates, and answers questions about a monthly EF skill. Families and teachers alike referred regularly to the site for EF skill instruction support.

Parent Workshops

Rose Delorme Metayer, director of the McCarthy Institute at Boston Latin School, adopted a different yet equally impactful approach to including families in supporting students’ EF skill development. Having expanded EF skill instruction from an after-school elective session to a schoolwide, multi-week workshop course, Rose invited caregivers to a series of informational sessions on EF skill development in high school.

Rose noted that the parent-facing workshops aimed to “teach parents the language and development behind executive function,” and emphasized the value of teaching young people the “adult superpowers” at the core of EF. The workshops helped parents mindfully manage their expectations of their child’s EF skills while promoting a healthy environment for these skills to grow.

Informal Conversations

Cambridge Public Schools special educator Sandy Voltaire explained in the panel how simple, organic conversations between students and caregivers can help students solidify EF skills in multiple areas of their lives. “Students are recognizing that they need to use [EF strategies] for sports and for their after-school activities,” Sandy explained, “and they’re talking to their parents about these strategies. That’s a sign of success.”

ResearchILD extends a huge thank-you to Dawn, Marissa, Rose, and Sandy for sharing their knowledge on ways to leverage caregiver involvement in students’ EF skill development. What strategies have you used to bridge the gap between home and school?

  • Taylor McKenna, M.A., M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org