FAQs for Parents
1. What is Executive Function training?
It is training for the part of our brain that tells the rest of the brain what to do, or the brain’s prefrontal cortex that acts like a boss brain which identifies, organizes, activates, and creates plans to achieve results for a better future. Scientifically speaking, Executive Function is an important set of mental processes that enable self-management and emotional regulation in order for us to achieve our goals and solve our problems independently and efficiently. Executive Function can be strengthened through skill-building exercises, mindful reflection, and self-awareness training.
Students with strong Executive Function skills are able to focus during classroom learning, follow-through with instructions independently, get started with work when necessary, ask for help when appropriate, and work with teachers, parents, and peers harmoniously. Hence, strong Executive Function skills offer innumerable benefits to the learner and the learning community.
No one is born with fully developed Executive Function skills, but we all have the ability to learn, and middle and high school years are the ideal time for students to practice and master these skills by focusing on training nine core areas of Executive Functions.
2. What are the nine core areas my child will be learning with ExQ?
In order to help students to build their self-understanding and strategic thinking for classroom, school, and general life success ExQ has identified nine cognitive and emotional areas when addressed can have a positive and meaningful impact on students’ work habits and mindsets.
- FOCUS: It is the brain’s ability to figure out what’s important and then pay attention to it.
Focus allows students to engage with important parts of information and disengage with everything else that’s irrelevant. ExQ hopes with its training, students will learn to sustain mental effort and manage distractions successfully. ExQ believes a trained mind and brain can handle the interference while staying committed to the pursuit of goals.
- WORKING MEMORY: It is the brain’s ability to actively hold onto information while using it to work through tasks.
Working Memory allows students to hold onto multiple details in their mind, follow through with multi-step directions, and get back on track once interrupted. ExQ hopes with its training, students will learn how to hold on to parts of the instructions and handle interruptions as they are learning and completing tasks. ExQ believes a trained mind and brain can hold onto multiple solutions while weighing options to adjust behaviors to meet expectations.
- ORGANIZATION & PLANNING: It is the brain’s ability to reach goals by sorting information, making plans, and sticking to them.
Organization and Planning allows students to sort information systematically and strategically, create a mock plan by sequencing and testing the hypothesis of execution, and break down future goals into manageable current steps and bridging the two together with a plan. ExQ hopes with its training, students will learn pattern analysis and strategic sequencing skills which are the building blocks of goal-directed behaviors. ExQ believes a trained mind and brain can minimize effort in planning, avoid procrastination, and support sound decision-making.
- PROSPECTIVE MEMORY: It is the brain’s ability to remember to remind yourself to follow up with goals in the future.
Prospective Memory allows students to create and switch between immediate, intermediate, and future goals by managing focus and actions, use planning tools to manage and rehearse information prior to recall, and switch between current and future tasks without losing sight of the big picture.
ExQ hopes with its training, students will begin rehearsing action sequences and remind themselves to remember to remember with effort. ExQ believes a trained mind and brain can connect ExQ strategies and suggestions to schoolwork and homework in order to meet daily goals and future goals.
- PROBLEM SOLVING: It is the brain’s ability to get to the bottom of a challenging problem and break it down to reach an effective solution to move ahead in a new and useful way.
Problem Solving allows students to apply a logical framework to the problem set to evaluate, compare, contrast, and order information, generate a wide range of possibilities for more than one alternative, and remove obstacles or roadblocks while implementing solutions.
ExQ hopes with its training, students will see the problem in its entirety, narrow down the range of possibilities, and reach an effective solution to remove any barriers. ExQ believes a trained mind and brain can learn to always pause to assesses situations and remove obstacles in order to achieve goals.
- MENTAL FLEXIBILITY: It is the brain’s ability to deal with the unexpected, see what other people see, and then go with the flow.
Mental Flexibility allows students to shift perspectives, adjust behaviors, and change their approach flexibly.
ExQ hopes with its training, students will learn to expand their awareness, see information from more than one’s own perspective, and consider more than one alternative, possibility, or solution. ExQ believes a trained mind and brain can give up a rigid viewpoint, accept unfavorable feedback, collaborate with others and willingly compromise to reach a common solution.
- SELF-AWARENESS: It is the brain’s ability to determine your own strengths and weaknesses and navigate towards a better future.
Self-Awareness allows students to observe themselves from a distance, monitor their actions, and guide themselves to get better results that benefits their future self.
- STRATEGIC THINKING: It is the brain’s ability to develop an approach to get things done, work around obstacles and invent new ways to solve problems without losing focus, interest or creativity. Strategic thinking involves thinking about larger issues or the bigger picture, in contrast to the “microfocus” or laser focus we bring to complete a task that’s planned out.
Those who are experts in developing strategies often experience success because of their specialized skills. Here’s what expert strategic thinkers do:
- Possess high level of motivation
- Build skills through regular practice and work through boredom or fatigue
- Redefine and reinterpret the problem or problematic task
- Spend more time planning and analyzing problems than working on solving the problem
- EMOTIONAL RESILIENCE: It is the brain’s ability to be effective with the full range of our emotions by recognizing, acknowledging, and instead of reacting, responding to them in a calm and collected way to meet goals.
Emotional resilience reminds us that emotions are carriers of information and SKILLS help us deal with our thoughts, emotions and our stories in order to thrive in the world. It has a few critical parts:
- Being able to pause or completely stop to take in the current state of emotional condition
- Utilize the emotional awareness t investigate
- Shift out of reactivity into receptivity and
- Activate openness to not just to feel better but to act better
3. How does ExQ work?
Rooted in more than 20 years of cognitive neuroscience and Executive Function training expertise, ExQ for Home is a cloud-based, patented, 10-week-long curriculum designed to enhance the brain’s Executive Function through personalized game-based training that focuses on teaching students to learn HOW to learn.
The ExQ for Home program will provide a research-informed curriculum, an individualized Executive Function assessment and learning profile, frequent learner feedback, and learning from error analysis through personalized coaching based on each student’s own individual strengths and weaknesses.
Based on students’ ExQ learning profile, they receive a weekly to-do list recommendation that includes:
- Executive Function games specific to one of the nine areas identified by ExQ.
- Working with a virtual coach to learn from mistakes through error analysis to help formulate strategies for positive work habits.
- Mindful Examination of Thinking and Awareness (M-E-T-A™) training to build learning purpose, self-knowledge, and reflection skills.
Each lesson students receive four types of measurable and quantifiable scores: Game Accuracy Score, Strategy Score, Coaching Score, and Self-Awareness Score.
ExQ’s measurable data and insight offers parents a new lens to view and support each child’s unique adaptive abilities and their individual path to infinite know how. Finally, ExQ believes a trained mind and brain with fully developed metacognitive abilities can seek timely help and advocate for one’s own success.
4. How is ExQ implemented?
- ExQ should implemented in a supervised setting, once or twice a week for 30-60 minutes on a computer or tablet.
- Students engage in the training individually, and the parent acts as a facilitator making sure the environment is quiet and has no interruptions.
- During the ExQ training, learners are directed to work silently, not ask others for help, and only consult the parent for clarification.
- The parent should create a climate of self-reflection, accepting feedback, and learning to evaluate mistakes by building a strong Executive Function culture.
- ExQ highly recommends that parents discuss the focus of the weekly lesson, progress, and facilitate conversation about the value and importance of learning how to learn.
- Before and after the weekly training, parents are encouraged to question the student about their learning insight or their understanding of self and use of well-crafted strategies to help one’s self.
5. What is my role as a parent of a child training with ExQ?
Building Executive Function means building self-awareness and a knack for designing strategies for personal success. This requires taking a hard look at learning success, learning struggles, and learning goals. The ExQ program and coaching is designed to promote these skills so that the student begins to engage in shaping their own destiny.
As parents and caregivers, your role is to encourage your children to stick with the ExQ program. Learning about your own strengths and weaknesses is not easy. From our experience, ExQ believes that the key factor in success with Executive Function training is a proactive learning culture where the partnership between parents creates a safe environment for students to feel confident talking about themselves, their struggles, and their overall learning experiences that include organizing materials, managing goals, completing tasks, managing time, inventing study strategies, reflecting on performance, connecting with emotions, and thinking about their personal learning mission.
Historically speaking, discussions about students’ learning experiences is part of classroom teaching and subject-specific feedback. By using ExQ for Home, we hope you will make an explicit and specific commitment to helping students think about their own way of thinking. Carrying out teaching this way is new and as a result could be potentially challenging.
We believe learning how to learn can be taught and we are dedicating a specific amount of time for this process to emerge. Here is how you can support and promote the emergence of self-awareness as students work on their weekly ExQ lessons:
- ExQ’s learning games: Your student will play challenging games and answer reflection questions which can pose a challenge. Ask your student what they thought about the games, what made them fun, what parts were difficult, and how to see the benefit in this process.
- ExQ’s video reflections: Your student will be asked to summarize the learning and capture the experience through a video in the software. Encourage your students to position the camera properly, deliver their summary enthusiastically, and continue to be serious about the work just as they would be serious about their schoolwork.
- ExQ strategies: Throughout the ExQ experience, your student will be provided with learning, mindset, and academic strategies. Encourage your student to share these strategies, ask them to illustrate how they will use these strategies at home, and facilitate discussions about the importance of using strategies in everyday life.
- Handling negative emotions during new learning: Since the ExQ for Home program places emphasis on self-reflection and visiting errors, it can be tough to keep going when learning games push the student outside their comfort zone. Your student might find it discouraging at first to hear about their own challenges. Encourage your student to stay committed to academic success through personal development. Share how you as a family value the practice of self-reflection and the positive impact it will have on academic success and meaningful relationships with family and friends.
6. How can I help my child build Executive Function skills if I haven’t mastered my own Executive Function skills?
Simple: You are a lifelong learner. As long as you incorporate the principals of Executive Function into your parenting, you will be a great model and ambassador for teaching Executive Function.
Here are a few ideas for you to think about your own Executive Function:
- Pause often and ask yourself, “Is there a different way to interact with my children right now?”
- Use the 4-7-8 breathing technique (breathing in for 4 seconds, holding it for 7 seconds, and breathing out for 8 seconds) to manage your own stress and anxiety when dealing with parenting challenges.
- Come up with more than one solution when helping your child in anticipation that you will meet some resistance.
- Use tools for the family including a wall calendar, color-coded schedule for each family member, and timers to help everyone stay organized.
- Minimize disarray and chaos by maintaining good personal routines around the house and assigning roles and responsibilities to every family member to help you help them.
Here are a few ideas to prompt your children to think about their Executive Function:
- Encourage your children to pause often and use self-talk with these three prompts: What am I doing? Why am I doing this? How does this matter?
- Prompt your children to assess their focus and effort on a scale of 1-5. If the scores are 3 or below, ask what strategies they plan to use to improve their focus as well as effort.
- Before beginning their homework, ask your children to make a plan, to write the plan down, and have them use a timer to complete their work.
- At the end of their homework ask your children to evaluate what worked and what didn’t work. Together engage in problem solving to come up with strategies for next time.
- With your supervision, ask your children to update the family calendar with ongoing new events and commitments
7. Can I integrate Executive Function into our family and social experiences?
Absolutely! We strongly encourage crosspollination and infusion of the learning philosophies of ExQ into all facets of learning at home, around the dinner table, on the sports field, on the musical or dramatic stage, and in social environments. Executive Function is best when reinforced in real-world (or real-family) situations.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Eliminate clutter and sound distractions from the environment to allow for a peaceful home
- Minimize use of personal devices during family time and homework time
- Set aside a designated time for bi-weekly family meetings (if possible) to discuss the following:
- Schedules, joint family events, and activities
- Cooperation and collaboration between family members
- Family stressors
- Fun things to do
- Systems that need improvement (for example, breakfast routine)
- Maintain a list of personal glitches encountered by members of the family and revisit those glitches each month to come up with a preventative plan for the future.
- Maintain a list of “family wins” (successful ways family members have solved problems) and revisit the events and situations to see why the family members were successful and jointly figure out ways to celebrate these successes
8. Which students benefit from ExQ?
ExQ is designed for all learners in Middle and High Schools, grades six through 12. Students enrolled in general-education can benefit from weekly practice with ExQ to improve their critical cognitive abilities. For Gifted learners, ExQ training can help finesse and build higher order Executive Function skills. Finally, ExQ is also suited for differently-abled learners who experience challenges in managing their attention, organization and flexibility; however, it is not recommended for students with severe learning problems or developmental disorders.
9. Is Executive Function the same thing as Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?
Yes and no. Executive Function and Social-Emotional Learning are related areas of learning and sometimes include overlapping skills. But each is important and must be addressed with explicit training. The easiest way to think about the differences is Executive Function emphasizes cognitive thinking. While Social-Emotional Learning emphasizes managing emotions. Both share one common thread: they are based in learning how to practice self-awareness in order to maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.
Encourage your children to share their thoughts and feelings about new topics, classroom engagement, social relationships with peers, opportunity to collaborate and partner with teachers, and handle daily setbacks or disappointments. Guide and mentor your student to develop alternatives to handle such challenges while building a mindset of acceptance and optimism.
10. How is ExQ facilitated for optimal engagement?
ExQ emphasizes independent learning, deep thinking, and focus. It is an experiential curriculum and requires attention while your child progresses through its multilayered components. We suggest that you allocate a specific time during the week where your child can complete their ExQ training without interruption. Students are welcome to ask parents for clarification or support as needed, however, they are instructed to complete the work independently.
11. Will my child like Executive Function training?
Yes and no! Learning about your strengths and weaknesses is tough stuff. Kids may have great fear and frustration at first. However, once they see how their own thinking and self-awareness changes over time, the odds are they will become excited and highly motivated to keep up with the challenging program in order to gain additional skills and confidence.
12. What do I do when my child complains about the hard work? (This is hard—when will we see progress?)
Many ExQ alum have uttered these words! But as with any skill, the more you practice, the better able you are to master the skills. With ExQ, daily practice leads to infinite know how! Any time your student complains about ExQ and the challenge of learning new skills, try to redirect them in the following way:
- Remind the student that ExQ’s curriculum and training is similar to learning an instrument or a sport. Mastery doesn’t come after completing a few practice lessons. Sticking with things is really a valuable skill.
- Share with your student the benefit of having “stuck it out” that has allowed you to gain mastery (such as a project at work).
- Share inspirational stories of people who have reached the peak of their professional achievement through dedication, intense practice, and deep commitment.
13. Will I know Executive Function progress when I see it?
Yes! As students expand their views and begin demonstrating greater Executive Function skills you will see evidence in improved conduct, ability to focus longer, fewer disruptions, and more collaboration.
The ExQ for Home training program documents weekly results based on students’ participation, successful completion, and accuracy of their responses in the form of four scores: Game Accuracy Score, Strategy Score, Coaching Score, and Self-Awareness Score. Each percentage value is indicative of students’ learning how to learn experience and measurable outcome. More importantly, ExQ provides students’ an opportunity to personalize their strategies and review them to be able to apply them to schoolwork and home life. This measurable data will help you tangibly see progress for your child throughout the training process.
At the end of the training period, you will receive an ExQ M-E-T-A™ Composite Index Progress Report outlining the individual progress your child has made during the course of the training, his or her strengths, challenges, and areas for improvement.
14. What if I have additional questions or want to learn more?
Throughout your child’s ExQ training, you may have questions about ExQ. Please reach out ExQ (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn more.
You may also visit the ExQ website: www.exqinfiniteknowhow.com to view videos about teaching Executive Function, listen to comments from teachers and students who have completed ExQ training, and download valuable tips and resources for creating a culture of Executive Function.
15. What is ExQ’s Virtual Coaching?
ExQ supports student learning with a patented approach to personalized instruction, through our unique virtual AI-based coaches. At the start of ExQ training, each learner selects a virtual coach. After their initial Executive Function learning assessment, the student’s learning experience is dynamic and individualized based on their unique learning strengths and challenges. The sequencing, depth, frequency and complexity of the training varies based on the student’s own engagement and adapts over time, in real time, based on the learner’s actions. The virtual coach offers learning tips, strategies and encouragement by helping the student learn from their own mistakes and prompts them to consider new ways to ask for help, shift mindsets, and practice critical thinking skills. The coach is not a real person, instead, the virtual coach is available online throughout the training to support the student in their own learning journey at the moment of learning. Being able to support the continuous improvement of learning through virtual methods is extremely important, especially during times of remote classrooms. ExQ virtual coaches have the ability to offer feedback, encourage support, and provide opportunities to improve learning practices, helping students connect their own learning behaviors to their actions in real time. The ExQ AI virtual coach is a vital part of your student’s learning team, working alongside teachers, parents, caregivers, and other managers of ExQ implementation.