Smart but Scattered: How Executive Skills Create Successful Students

Child with scattered mind

Youngsters with poor executive skills are disorganized or forgetful, have trouble getting started on tasks, get distracted easily, lose papers or assignments, forget to bring home the materials to complete homework or forget to hand homework in. They may rush through work or dawdle, they make careless mistakes that they fail to catch. They don’t know where to begin on long-term assignments, and they put the assignment off until the last minute, in part because they have trouble judging the magnitude of the task and how long it will take to complete it. Their workspaces are disorganized, and teachers may refer to their desks, backpacks, and notebooks as “black holes.” Dr. Peg Dawson, the co-author of the book Smart but Scattered, will talk about three strategies parents can use to help children acquire the critical skills they need to be successful students, including how to structure the environment to reduce the impact of weak executive skills, how to teach executive skills, and how to use incentives to get kids to practice these skills.


Biography: Peg Dawson, Ed.D., received her doctorate in school/child clinical psychology from the University of Virginia. She worked as a school psychologist for 16 years in Maine and New Hampshire, and for over 25 years has worked at the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where she specializes in the assessment of children and adults with learning and attention disorders. Along with her colleague, Dr. Richard Guare, she has authored several books, including a book for professionals, Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention and two books for parents, Smart but Scattered and Smart but Scattered Teens. Their book, Coaching Students with Executive Skills Deficits has been recently augmented with a planner (Work Smart Academic Planner). Their most recent book, The Smart but Scattered Guide to Success is written for adults. Dr. Dawson is a past president of both the National Association of School Psychologists and the International School Psychology Association. She is also the 2006 recipient of NASP’s Lifetime Achievement Award and a 2010 recipient of the International School Psychology Association Distinguished Services Award.

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