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Don’t let the term fool you. “Executive function” does not refer to one’s ability to lead meetings in a boardroom, hire and fire, or plan a budget.

Rather it is a newish term coined to encompass all the critical self-regulation skills people need to accomplish everyday tasks. From planning, organizing, making decisions and controlling emotions and impulses, the brain’s executive functions help direct just about everything.

For students, executive functions come in to play with everything from getting dressed and packing a backpack, to completing a complex assignment, participating in a group and prioritizing a task.

Children who have poor executive functioning may take a longer time to get dressed or become overwhelmed while doing simple chores around the house. Schoolwork becomes a challenge because of misplaced papers or difficulty remembering and sticking to deadlines. Commonly found in people with ADHD, Autism, or other similar developmental challenges, executive function difficulties can affect anyone.

In an attempt to shed light on executive function challenges and how they can be addressed, Hopewell Valley Regional School District is bringing in an expert in executive function and learning to speak to parents from both within and outside the district as well as HVRSD staff this month.

Dr. George McCloskey, PhD, will speak at a parent workshop, “Executive Functions and the Gap between Knowing and Doing” on Monday, March 31 at 6:30 p.m. in the 8th Grade House Center at Timberlane Middle School.

McCloskey is a Professor and Director of School Psychology Research in the Psychology Department of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He frequently presents at national, regional and state meetings on cognitive and neuropsychological assessment and intervention topics, and consults with a number of school districts in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California on issues related to improving students’ self-regulation capacities in the classroom, behavior management, assessment and intervention for executive functions difficulties related to academic and behavior problems, balanced literacy reading and writing instruction.

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George McCloskey, an expert on executive function, will speak to parents and staff in Hopewell Valley on March 31.

McCloskey also is the lead author of “Assessment and Intervention for Executive Function Difficulties” and author of “Essentials of Executive Functions Assessment.”

“I would like parents to have a better understanding of why their child has difficulty organizing information, thoughts and materials in daily life (unpacking backpacks, showering, organizing thoughts on paper),” said Alicia Nayfield, president of the HVRSD Special Education PTO. “I am hopeful we may even get a few tips on strategies we can employ in the school system and at home to better support our children.”

A 30 minute question and answer session will follow McCloskey’s presentation. RSVP with Deb Tettemer, Pupil Services, at 609-737-4000 extension 2602 or dtettemer@hvrsd.org.

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Andrea Fereshteh has been writing for as long as she can remember. An avid journal-keeper as a child, she dabbled in dramatic notes to her parents and designed her own stationary. With a zest for small talk and meeting new people, she pursued journalism in college and worked for nine years in PR, writing and media relations for the higher ed and nonprofit sectors. She has a mousters and ducktorate from Disney University and is a mother to two lively boys who inspire her to just keep writing, just keep writing.

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