Bright & Quirky Child Summit

Help bright kids thrive, even with learning, social and/or emotional challenges

Session 3: Planning Backwards to Move Forward for Executive Function Success

Sarah Ward, MS, CCC/SLP

Sometimes you have to plan backwards to move forwards and get things done effectively. In this revelatory talk with Sarah Ward, you will learn that good executive function in our children is far more than the product and output of executive skills. Sarah shares an invaluable questioning system that engages a child's executive planning skills and relationship with time for all parts of their life, not just homework. Utilizing the power of our non-verbal working memory, the ability to "envision" yourself and plan over the course of time is a crucial and teachable skill. It may be the missing link in a child's executive functioning abilities!

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  1. Emilie on March 17, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    This is a revelation to me. I think my own “visualization” is next to none, just never how my brain worked. Explains a lot!

  2. Carina on March 15, 2020 at 9:15 am

    I heard Sarah Ward speak a few years ago, and I though she was amazing then. But this time, what she is saying seems even more relevant, applicable, and true, maybe because we are at a different point in our journey. The three “Fundamentals of planning” steps, and the limited understanding of what projects look like when they are finished, what it takes to get there, and the inability to plan/understand the critical time aspect of all of this is all so much bigger than it sounds upon a first listen. We have been struggling with graphic organizers and to-do lists (and our school’s conviction that more of those are the cure-all), but now I understand much better why we are not having much success with those tools! Thanks!

  3. Jocelyn Fisher on March 15, 2020 at 8:26 am

    Amazing talk! Did anyone catch the researcher that Sarah talked about regarding The Anticipatory Look. Her first name is Christina but I didn’t catch the last name.

    • Neva on March 18, 2020 at 1:44 am

      The researcher’s name is Cristina Atance.

  4. Sharyn on March 15, 2020 at 7:21 am

    Simply amazing on every level.
    Thank you ?!!

  5. 2e me on March 15, 2020 at 7:15 am

    1. Right on target re mimetic envisioning, etc. Will use all of this! Wonderful.
    2. But what’s the next step? *IF* the professor recognizes the grading will really in practice take a gazillion hours, IF the student realizes they will only have an hour and a half for their own agenda that whole evening, how do they change THAT narrative, so they can prioritize their brilliant work, put their focus on what is truly meaningful to them and where they feel they can really contribute and progress? This is especially critical for highly gifted individuals with such a strong sense of their own individual path and ideas–and then add to that possible “slow processing speed” or “need for extra time in transitions” or challenges with uptake of instructions, etc., that further slow them down. Add to that perhaps a need for more, not less, “free space” that is open-ended and not time-crunched, for their deep thinking. How can our students–and our adult selves–protect what we prioritize, protect what we can do, and are driven to do, through our unique individual gifts, and not lose all our time to the imposed tasks (which may also take more time for those with a 2e profile).
    I recognize that one answer to this may be, for the professor, stop and consider a different way to assign work and provide feedback, and for the student, find a way to just do the core of the assignments as directly and efficiently as possible, but surely actually achieving that reduction of the time burden for less meaningful but required tasks is critical, and it’s not clear how it can be successfully achieved. Especially, again, note the conundrum of these individuals who have MORE to ponder and produce through their gifts also being LESS able to churn through the “chaff” quickly. Some of this reduction of the burdensome baseline tasks can be done by the individual, but some also will have to come from outside, won’t it? Any thoughts? (Also, the student and the professor might both do better at, and be more efficient at, the more dread tasks if they make them more meaningful, richer for themselves–e.g., raise them up a level–but that is antithetical to minimizing them, and so they would still take away from their “prime agenda” of their own intellectual life. Finding some sort of strategic balance here is an ongoing challenge, I am guessing, for many viewing this.)

  6. Laina on March 15, 2020 at 7:09 am

    Great presentation! Learned so much and took many notes : ). Lots of great information but I missed one point. There were 3 questions to ask yourself. 1 – What will it look like when its done; 2 – what do I need to do….but what was #3? I went back to listen again but still didn’t catch #3. Thanks.

    • Sara on March 17, 2020 at 5:09 pm

      I believe the #3 question in that series was: What materials do I need to get it done?

  7. Silmara on March 15, 2020 at 12:30 am

    Wow!!! Thanks!!! This is sooooo good, so much practical information, I am a visualizer automatically but my child and husband are not. The difference between a to do list and the visualizing the complete task with all the elements is amazing and so practical. Now I have something practical that I can share with both. I once asked my husband what does he think of when he goes to bed and he said ” nothing ,I just sleep ” That was the first time I realized that what I did naturally was not even close to his mind. I am really excited to try this out.
    Tx so much again!!!

  8. Gloria Gallardo-Walker on March 15, 2020 at 12:04 am

    There is so much involved with time management. I love the idea of breaking everything down visually as most of us are visual learners in order to make time that is invisible more visible. Thanks Sarah Ward for this envisioning the future idea!

  9. Megan Davis on March 14, 2020 at 9:12 pm

    Yes, Yes , Yes !!! I have ADHD and 3 out of my 4 kids have it. I could never visualize the end of anything and still struggle to visualize a day. I make lists. School learning was so difficult!! I would get caught up in details of a project or details in the chapter never getting the end goal of a task, or chapter or project. No one ever taught me to visualize the end, to read the summary first, learn about time. This strategy would have been game changer for me. I would always say ” Tell me the thing that is most obvious to you. That is the part I don’t get” to my friends. But this is the missing piece! 3 of my kids play travel soccer. Last week I had their schedules made and written down. Both games were at the same complex. I thought I was done because I had made and written out the schedule and we were at the right location. My third daughter was late to her game and did not start when we had been at the complex for 2 hours!! She had forgotten when her warm ups started. I had not visualized the moving time and space aspect and what we needed to do to get her to her warm up on time. I would have had to stop focusing on the first game and remind my daughter that it was time for her to leave for her warm up. We were right there at the complex:) 2 hours early and were in visual distance from her team warming up. My husband did not understand …..but yes this is where it all falls apart for me and my kiddos. Thanks for your great work!!! We will do our best to start working on this. It’s never too late I hope:)

  10. Miriam on March 14, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    This was the most useful talk in the summit for me. I realized that I have only recently become a bit better at this myself and that generally my mental imagery is pretty weak. So helpful to have the skills so actionably laid out. Thank you so much for making this information available!

  11. Sara on March 14, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    I never fully understood what executive functioning was until this. Thanks so much for this!

  12. Carrie Yu on March 14, 2020 at 11:37 am

    Thank you so much for the great ideas, I will try them out with my highly sensitive, imaginative, expressive DD8 with ADD and dyslexia, bits and bots of different inspirations have been saving me and my kids throughout the past 12 years, My introverted, science and computer games addicted DS12 may not be a fit candidate to try out, owing to the teenage rebellion, different endowment and temperament.

    • Lauren on March 14, 2020 at 8:06 pm

      Carrie, That’s why we had different EF speakers with different styles and strategies. It’s important to find what connects and has meaning for each of our kids with their strengths and challenge areas. I know my two sons needed really different EF support from me too!
      -Lauren with the B&Q Team

    • Kim Schewitz on March 18, 2020 at 1:24 pm

      Most life changing talk I have heard in a loooooong time! My 2e child is 16 and I have never understood exactly what executive functioning is or what the piece is that is missing and as you explained, the older he gets the bigger the gap seems. Thank you for such insightful and practical guidance and lots of hope. That is so encouraging. Can’t wait to start (and feel more compassionate)!

  13. Signe on March 14, 2020 at 10:36 am

    The part about un-preferred tasks almost made me laugh because, word for word, it was a VERY accurate account of what happens during homework at my house. This was really helpful and invaluable information.

  14. Mike Thomas on March 14, 2020 at 9:49 am

    I appreciate much of what is presented but it makes the assumption that the child knows how to do the tasks described. I am dyslexic and I learn differently from the way other kids learn. You envision a paper written, but we dyslexics have to learn how to write to get to that step. Most of the time we don’t show executive skill because every task becomes an emotional nightmare that we struggle to get past before we can think about envisioning steps to completion. You can not expect a child who is 2e to do anything until the trauma of the tasks has been addressed and the fearful feelings of the child have been lessened to the point that we can have some small amount of attention to give to the problem of getting out the door. NON Dyslexics have no idea of what it is like for the child who is 2e. You can not assume that your vision as a nondyslexic has any relationship to a dyslexic or 2e child. Please read my book “The Successful Dyslexic” to get some perspective on what it is to be dyslexic. Then, you as a parent can speak to your child with understanding.
    Thank you
    MIke Thomas

    • Sheryl on March 14, 2020 at 12:29 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing this, for sharing yourself, for sharing your book with us, Mike!
      – Sheryl Stoller, parent coach with BQ Team

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