Individualized education programs combine special occupation, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling. Once the condition of an individual has been ascertained, a personalized program is developed to help the child with all of their daily and academic concerns. This can be even more beneficial as these executive functioning skills have several everyday life examples.
The condition of executive dysfunction affects all areas of executive functioning like planning, organizing, managing time, and emotions. Individuals diagnosed with executive functioning disorder, a dysfunction in regulating thoughts, emotions, and actions, have similar executive functioning concerns to individuals with learning difficulties. Hence, the treatment for them is similar too.
Individualized education programs (IEPs) provide extra support to individuals by helping them with executive functioning training. It is a collaborative effort of the school community, professionals, and parents to identify and support the individual at an early stage. However, it is through IEP Goals, progress is kept under tabs, and gradual steps are taken to improve the individual’s overall functioning.
The overall functioning is nothing but a strengthened executive functioning. Hence, the article below mentions executive functioning observed and measured through IEP goals and the corresponding interconnections between these skills that can be seen with similarity in these measurable goals.
Crucial executive functioning skills in IEP goals
Executive functioning is the root of all successful completions and achievements. Hence, through IEP goals, the main areas of executive functioning are targeted.
Time management involves a smart distribution of tasks over the length and breadth of a day. An individual has to carry out an observation of how much time a task takes to complete. Based on this information, the individual has to manage his day. Time management, however, isn’t just about following a strict schedule; it is also the ability to prioritize what needs to be completed before and how to squeeze in emergency work during a normal day. For better time management, it is recommended that individuals keep track of time and adjust their pace accordingly. Hence, here are some measurable IEP goals to track the time-management skills of students.
IEP Goals for Time Management:
- The student will know how to formulate a routine regarding the steps and sequence of the events.
- The student can create a daily or weekly planner without adult support.
- The student will time themself for every task and then accordingly create a plan for future tasks.
- The student will learn to use a visual timer and give oneself the time to transition from completing an older task to initiating a new task.
- The student will ensure the checklist consisting of routine is completed within the stipulated time and with 90% accuracy.
Organisation requires both mental and physical sophistication. It is a skill of maintaining objects, information, and plans per one’s convenience and growth. Organizing can involve keeping a list of items that belong together and keeping them in that order. It also follows the time management rules, as the days and plans are organized based on time targets. Creating a catalog of where things are kept can allow the individual to be stress-free and save time. In IEP, it is suggested to spend some time daily in the organization and make weekly modifications, as it can help individuals be flexible and catch up with changes. The detailed list of IEP goals for organizational skills can be downloaded here.
IEP Goals for Organisation
- The student would develop the habit of writing a daily planner.
- Before starting the project or task, the student would create a step-wise strategy to approach task completion.
- The student would make time to organize objects and items every day.
- The student would always add a new task and their deadlines to the checklist.
- The student will set a prioritized hierarchy in the checklist at the end of the day once all the tasks for the day or week have been added.
Whenever problem-solving is being talked about, our first instinct is to jump at the solution part. However, the first step is identifying the problem and everything that helps it persist. A person who excels at problem-solving can identify and describe the problem and then come up with resolutions. Problem-solving closely relates to problems in the organization and task initiation. As problem-solving involves achieving goals, an individual struggling with problem-solving will most likely be frustrated or demonstrate behavioral problems. According to IEP, problem-solving behavior can be tackled by increasing motivation and using role plays, which permit exposure to various scenarios. Below are the IEP goals that indicate efficient problem-solving skills.
IEP Goals for Problem Solving
- The student will use the self-regulatory script without adult supervision in unexpected situations.
- The student will begin a new activity only after completing a previous task.
- The student would be able to identify their roadblocks and problem areas.
- For open-ended assignments, the student would independently follow a course of action that has been previously taught or practiced under the supervision of an educator.
- The student would use negotiation and compromise strategies in 90% of situations of conflict
Battling with distractions is an everyday routine for almost all individuals. Attention or attentional control is a skill that must be learned. It helps individuals to filter out non-relevant stimuli from the environment and focus on one thing. There is no direct way to assess attention; however, secondary behaviors like lesser social interaction during task performance, ability to carry out proper steps, and completing a task are testimony to sustained attention. IEP, having attentional control as its goal, emphasizes identifying distractions, creating a sound environment for work, and taking optimal breaks.
IEP Goals for Attention
- The student would practice active listening skills, i.e. observing non-verbal cues and reflecting on what is being said.
- The student will be able to self-identify triggers and distractions.
- The student will learn how to create a conducive environment for task completions, suitable timings, and one’s learning needs.
- The student would have to demonstrate 80% accuracy in problem-solving that requires a step-by-step approach (math problems)
- The student will register but not respond to distracting stimuli.
5. Working Memory
Memory is our reservoir of information. However, working memory is the most important component of memory during task completion. Working memory, as the name suggests, is the memory that holds information while working on it. For instance, if an individual is instructed to write a paper on a given topic, they will create an instructional guide in their head before approaching the problem. This is affected by both an individual’s experience as well as confidence. IEP suggests using visual methods to remember information and chunking to memorize details. Through these methods, the working memory can hold more data, and the individual can be better equipped with enhanced recall. And with the below-mentioned goals, we can identify whether the methods helped or not.
IEP Goals for Working Memory
- The student will use self-made at least 10 mnemonics or recall cues for a given chapter to better retain course material
- The student will keep track of all questions that took the extra time or more than what was required
- The student will create a summary of course material in smaller pointers for a better recall
- The student will make use of real-life examples to make inferences easier
- The student will repeat classroom learning as homework daily
Goal-setting is a mental task that involves creating a listicle of short-term and long-term goals that an individual wants to pursue. For a child, such goals might be very objective and mechanical; however, a grown-up individual might want to develop well-thought and existentially-oriented goals. While these goals might not be tangible, in IEP Goals, goal setting is a skill that helps in task initiation and sustenance of effort. Goals completion is tied to prestige and a sense of achievement and often leads to better emotional control if values are aligned. However, setting goals first means careful assessment of one’s needs and constant progress tracking. Goal setting is not a one-time thing, but a continuous redefining and re-arrangement of goals are needed.
IEP Goals for Goal Setting
- The student will make a list of weekly goals
- The student, with the assistance of a teacher, will complete a resource and time analysis for goal-setting
- The student will reflect and write 5 reasons for the importance of achieving the set goals
- The student will evaluate achievement or progress about every goal at the end of the week
- The student will redefine or modify goals if needing more time or are more complex to achieve
7. Starting A Task
Task initiation or starting a task involves approaching a task independently, without external pressure or regulation. It relies on discipline and motivation, as task initiation is important for an independent life. The process involves being receptive to instructions, following through, and solving problems. Delaying work until the last minute is not just a simple problem with time management, but at the core is difficulty initiating tasks. An adult with difficulty initiating a task has often been micromanaged by an adult, creating unhealthy reliance on external intervention. Hence, in IEP goals, the focus is on getting the individuals to identify small and big tasks and to begin each of them within 15 minutes of address.
IEP Goals for Starting A Task
- The student will create a daily list of tasks with two columns: preferred and non-preferred tasks.
- The student will initiate the task within 15 minutes of assigning.
- Before beginning the task, the student will create a skeleton of steps or format.
- The student will use visual support, like a calendar or a clock, to be in sync with incomplete work and the time left
- The student will only take 5-15 minutes breaks to prevent exhaustion and accurately complete 80% of all the daily tasks.
Self-correction is monitoring oneself and developing a critical mindset toward one’s competencies. A critical mindset doesn’t mean constantly criticizing oneself but rather learning how to become better and enjoying the process of improvement. Self-correction comes with insight into one’s goals and going beyond benchmarks. Attention is a key area to work on when it comes to self-correction. Self-correction is a very broad term, and it can involve monitoring behaviors and all the executive functioning skills mentioned. Through IEP, self-correction can be practiced if one can keep track of their attempts and achievements.
IEP Goals for Self-Correction
- The student will proofread or double-check 90% of the time, before submitting an assignment
- The student will use the sandwich approach of feedback giving to learn to receive constructive criticism.
- The student could create strengths and weak reports of their project or themselves, after every formal evaluation
- Based on the analysis of weakness or difficult tasks assigned, the student will ask for an explanation or help from others like peers or teachers.
- The student will increase difficulty with time to ensure progress with practice and repetition, without adult supervision.
9. Emotional Control
Emotions are an aspect of humans thought to be least regulated by thoughts and other interventions. However, IEP believes that emotional control can be taught, but it needs practice for the individual to learn fully. Lack of emotional control often results in problems for the individuals and people around them. The first step in IEP goals to develop emotional control is the correct identification and labelling of the emotional state one is in. To teach emotional control, IEP aims to model ways of tackling emotional outbursts and stress coping mechanisms. Additionally, helping them in increasing emotional intelligence.
IEP Goals for Emotional Control
- The student will participate in classroom competitions to imbibe a healthy spirit and learn self-regulation regardless of a winning or losing situation.
- The student will learn to focus on the task rather than the internal states of panic or frustration.
- The students would be asked to share their experience of the day that helps them reflect on their emotional state during tasks or class competitions.
- Modelling self-regulation strategies to the students, like deep breaths, or imagery for a few minutes
- Students would be taught to be accommodating towards mistakes and look at the learning after failure.
10. Sustaining Effort
Sustaining effort or perseverance is the most important IEP goal. Individuals need to know that sustained effort is what keeps the ball rolling. One might likely get frustrated with goals or solving problems; however, sustaining effort is tied to one’s resilience and sense of achievement. Through sustenance of effort, one knows one will reach the finish line. As per IEP goals, sustaining effort would require effective goal setting, emotional control and focus. Positive self-talk and creating a listicle of strategies can better help with effort sustenance.
IEP Goals for Sustaining Effort
- The student will self-identify their most common task avoidance behaviors.
- The students will create hierarchical rewards they would want to get after completing daily, weekly or monthly targets.
- The student will identify their motivators and come up with 5 ways they can use them.
- The students would be paired with high-achievers to learn about their daily motivators and routine.
- The student will learn that task completions aren’t daily or weekly goals but life goals.
Individualized education program goals aim to make individuals’ lives more disciplined, goal-oriented, and independent. Hence, the underlying training emphasizes strengthening executive functions like emotional control, time management, and task initiation. Often IEP is a collaborative effort of a speech therapist, special educator, occupational therapist, and clinical psychologist. Individuals can function better in schools and alone through their joint help and proper training through IEP in executive functioning. Furthermore, books, online games, and worksheets can also be advantageous for students and individuals who wish to boost these skills.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,