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Initiating a Task

One of the executive functions that's important is initiating a task. A lot of parents don't think about this, but there is a part of your brain that says, Begin. We've all experienced this, we know that there's something that we should be doing, but it's not until this part of the brain says, Okay, go, is when we begin a task. A lot of kids who have even average, or below average executive functioning have trouble in this regard. And a lot of times parents and teachers will refer to these kids as being lazy. I don't believe that there are lazy kids. I think that there are kids who have trouble beginning tasks, but I certainly wouldn't consider them to be lazy.

When I'm reading through report cards, a lot of teachers will say so-and-so chose not to begin their work or they chose not to turn it in. I really don't believe that kids are waking up each morning and choosing not to begin tasks. I think that they're having a lot of difficulty doing it. What this might look like is when they come home from school, they know they might have, let's say, an hour or two of homework. But they'll say, I'm going to begin my homework at such and such a time. Then that time comes and they have a hard time beginning, So they'll bargain with themselves and maybe say, You know what, maybe I'll do this first, and then I will begin. And then this just keeps being sustained throughout the rest of the evening. This is when the parents move in, start cracking the whip, there's some horn-locking and some arguments about it. And then the kids finally will begin. But now it's very late at night.

Here at HeadWorks, we've created a milieu where the kids come in and there's a certain plan about how they're going to begin their work. The nice thing about HeadWorks is there are other students doing work in there, which helps these kids to begin. So there's this audience effect, if you will, for beginning work, because everybody else is beginning. Then once these kids begin, initiation becomes no longer a problem because now they're already doing the work.

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