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Self-Management: Children's Books to Teach Executive Functioning

Executive function is a set of mental skills that include working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control. We use these skills every day to learn, work, and move throughout our daily lives. Trouble with executive functioning can make it hard to focus, follow directions, and manage our emotions. Short term and long term planning can also be difficult. 

These are some of my favorite stories to help teach our children and students how to organize our thoughts, make a plan, and follow through in order to complete our tasks throughout the day. 

I'll Never Get All of That Done Book

By Brian Smith

Being flexible is difficult, and I know my son would rather be on Nintendo all day long instead of doing his schoolwork. BUT prioritizing and making our lists throughout the day is a LIFESAVER!

Putting things in order of our NEEDS TO get done first, not what you WANT TO get done first is a lesson that will last him a lifetime.

My Day is Ruined Book

By Brian Smith

It's amazing to me how many times I hear THIS phrase, or a phrase that's similar, from the mouths of students and children each day. 

Those big upset reactions to small problems happen all the time. And teaching our kids how to navigate through these feelings with strategies and tools is key. 

Being a flexible thinker ALL the time is tough. And creating that disaster movie in our minds can plague us and ruin our day. BUT when we have the strategies to support us when we start to feel that way...THAT's when change, that's when motivation, that's when perseverance comes through. And THAT's when that flexible thinking becomes a skill.  

I Can't Find My Whatchamacallit Book
By Julia Cook

How do we TEACH our students and children to be organized?

To be able to quickly find the things they need throughout the day?

Organization takes practice. It takes visuals. It take executive functioning skills.

In order to be able to visualize where our things are, we need to practice being in control of our BRAINS, our BODIES, and our STUFF.

Always in love with anything and everything from Julia Cook and her rhyming and sweet examples in this story are just perfect for BOTH the home AND the classroom.

Time to Get Started Book
By Brian Smith

Are your students struggling to take initiative? Do your kids tell you that they’ll get to their work, chore, job EVENTUALLY, but then YOU end up either starting it...or getting upset after all the constant reminders?

Bryan Smith does a great job of giving you 4 simple steps that will help.

1. Focus on what needs to be done

2. Figure out what’s stopping you

3. Come up with a plan and get started

4. Ask for help if nothing else works

What Were You Thinking Book
By Brian Smith

Learning to control your impulses is all part of teaching our kiddos those very important executive functioning skills. 


Planning, prioritizing, visualizing ourselves in the future, and then being able to be flexible to change and adapt when things don't go as planned...that takes SKILL...and PRACTICE! 

More often than not, the kids that have trouble controlling their impulses, are seen as though they should just KNOW how to do this. But they don't. These lagging skills are so important to tap into, and to TEACH our kids. And this is one of my favorite stories to do just that!

These books are just a few of my favorites for supporting students and children in self-management.

Check out my Amazon Storefront to see the rest of my Executive Functioning Collection and find all of my favorite books to support students!


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Kim Gameroz is a change agent for schools and districts who seek to revolutionize classrooms by taking on a systematic approach to teaching social and emotional skills.

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