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Guiding Elementary School Students 
Executive Function Disorders
Organization and Planning



Executive function disorder is fast becoming a known learning disabilities diagnosis among elementary school children in our twenty-first century schools. Learning more about this unique disability and how parents and educators can guide these students to greater levels of achievement and success is vital.


Executive functions are those skills that allow one to coordinate and integrate more fundamental knowledge and skills in an attempt to pursue particular goals, and to adapt to changes in the environment .The executive functions are concerned, not with what one knows and can do, but rather, with how and whether one uses his/her knowledge and skills in goal directed ways. 


There are six specific areas that make up an individuals executive function, they include:

  1. Inhibition of impulsive responses
  2. Flexibility of cognitive shifting
  3. Abstract reasoning
  4. Organization and planning
  5. Working memory
  6. Interference control

 Definitions of these specific functions, current medical and educational research, and additional information on the disorder can be found on the following reviewed web pages:




Executive Function

Current research/articles on EFD                         


Overview of EFD for parents/teachers                



Organization and planning is a component of EFD that specifically addresses an individualís ability to prioritize tasks in order to achieve desired outcomes.  Elementary students with organizational difficulties can experiences many degrees of frustration across the curriculum and throughout the school day.  The recommendations that follow are presented as a vehicle for parents and educators to gain a greater understanding of organizational weakness in EFD and there implications on learning.  Many of these strategies and techniques will help these students acquire greater access to the curriculum.


A few GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS are highlighted below, followed by a more in depth look into organizational deficits as they pertain to; INSTRUCTION, TESTING, and HOMEWORK.  In general the external support and structure provided for EFD students can be used throughout all aspects of the general curriculum.  In classrooms, these strategies can and will provide benefit to all students who experience any type of organizational difficulty.






A few simple starting points and principles are necessary when working with children who experience difficulties with organization and planning.  Taking these points into consideration will greatly improve the quality of school life for both the child and the teacher.








Learning new information and acquiring new academic skills can be difficult when organizational skills are impaired.  Students will require supports and modifications to instruction in order to reach desired levels of learning.  The following ideas should be developed in consideration with an individualís learning style.






Testing can be a highly stressful situation for a student with organizational deficits.  Often the studentís ability to retrieve learned information is inconsistent and does not always provide a true picture of the studentís actual skill level and present knowledge. Providing structure, consistency, and a willingness to develop optional testing methods will help the student reinforce healthy testing habits.









Homework is designed to be a means of reinforcing skills introduced in school.  It can be a difficult part of the day for a child with organizational and planning problems, as well as for their parents.  In order to achieve the full benefit of reinforcement that homework should provide, parents and teachers need to provide supports and the proper environment for their students.









Elementary school children with Executive Function Disorder can display a variety of different weaknesses in one or more of the components of executive function.  The ability to organize and plan is a key skill necessary to reach goals and adapt to changes in their environment and life.  The recommendations presented here will hopefully provide guidelines for teachers and parents as they guide their students to greater organization and learning success.