In This Issue

Registration for our summer programs will open on January 30!

Here is a sneak peek of our fun (and educational, shhh!) programs:
Summer Book Club:
A great way to have your child engage in her summer reading!

Ready Reader Level 1: Work on phonological awareness, spelling, and reading fluency skills.

Ready Reader Level 2: Improve reading comprehension and analysis skills. 

Just Write: 
Learn Thinking Organized's strategies to help you get started on, organize, and revise your writing.

Master Math:
Practice strategies to build confidence in math.

FUN with Executive FUNctioning:
A group program to develop problem-solving and executive functioning skills through hands-on challenges. 

Thinking Organized "On the Go:"
A group program involving real-life practice of executive functioning skills by planning a trip to a DC area landmark, museum, or sporting event.
Facebook Posts

It's one thing to create goals; it's another to accomplish them. When setting goals, it's important to make them realistic and attainable so that you can more effectively achieve them. Set checkpoints for yourself along the way so that you can tackle small pieces of a task at a time and not feel overwhelmed.

When students hear the word "study," they often think this means simply re-reading their notes. While reviewing information multiple times is certainly a good way to secure information into memory, active studying consists of directly interacting with the material you're trying to learn. For example, one studying strategy is chunking, where you break down information into smaller pieces and ascribe meaning to them. Your brain will have an easier time remembering these smaller pieces!  

The mentors at Thinking Organized don't think about executive functioning skills 24/7; sometimes, they go rock climbing and hiking! When not working with students, Mallory loves to be outside. The longest trail she's hiked was the Tour Du Mont Blanc, which is a 120-mile trail passing through France, Italy, and Switzerland.

If your youngster is learning to read or struggles with spelling, playing with word dominoes is a fun tool to teach word patterns. Have your child match rhyming words so she can understand the relationship between sight and sound, such as how words that end in "-op" sound similar. The first person to use all of their sticks wins!

Want more tips, games, and recommendations to help you and your child "think organized"


By  Mallory Rotondo

Executive functioning skills can be described as the 'CEO' of the brain. Just like an effective boss, executive skills are responsible for making decisions, planning, and managing information. Now imagine a boss who is feeling agitated, depressed, or enraged. In any of these situations, he will struggle to manage the demands of his job while his emotions are out of control, leading to unfinished tasks and a sense of frustration. In the same way, if a student has difficulty regulating emotions, his ability to perform executive functions will be compromised. This is especially true during adolescence, when brain development and hormonal changes cause emotions to heighten and fluctuate more dramatically. It is important to recognize that emotion and executive functions are not separate entities; in fact, they are intricately intertwined, especially when it comes to learning. 

Help your child understand this relationship  by following the steps listed below.

When we think of emotions, we immediately think of concepts like happiness, anger, and sadness and how these feelings dictate how we act. However, emotions are much more than just a state of being that lets others know how we are feeling; they also play a role in transferring skills from school to the real world, guiding judgment and action, focusing attention, and forming meaning from memories and experiences. Explain to your child that while it may not seem obvious at first glance, emotions play a major role in the way we learn. If he cannot regulate his emotions, then he will be unable to sit still in class or retain information from his textbook. As a result, his learning pace will be slowed and he will experience more emotional upheavals as he attempts to catch up on work. Knowledge is power, so having your child understand the role emotions play in learning can make him more receptive to using strategies to calm himself. 


Emotions are processed in the limbic system, which consists of the structures of the brain responsible for autonomic nervous system regulation and its response to emotional input. A child's limbic system can react to a variety of stressors, including those from home, such as divorce or loss of a family member; those from school, such as an overload of homework, anxiety related to college applications, and extracurricular activities; or those from growing up, such as the changing nature of relationships during adolescence. Stressors interfere with learning, and when a child gets 'stuck' in his limbic system, he struggles to access the prefrontal cortex (the portion of the frontal lobes that governs executive function skills). When your child experiences drastic shifts in his emotions, ask him to explain why he thinks he feels this way. It is important to encourage a sense of independence, and having your child identify the stressors gives him more control over figuring out how he can better manage them. Once your child identifies these stressors, help him come up with a plan about how he can control his emotions if he encounters them again. These plans can include breathing exercises, holding a stress ball, or confiding in someone. Encourage him to write these plans down, and roleplay scenarios involving certain stressors. This way, your child can practice using the plans he created so he can feel confident that they are feasible.  


Providing a physically and emotionally supportive learning environment is the foundation to developing children's problem-solving skills to help them defuse anxiety and boost learning. In addition to plans that your child can use to defuse a stressor, he can also create a physically and emotionally supportive learning environment that will allow him to 'climb out' of his limbic system. Here are some suggestions:
Physical Environment
  • Sensory Support. Sometimes, certain objects or spaces can assist a child in calming internally. Children with sensory sensitivities often benefit from having fidgets that they can squeeze, twist, or manipulate while learning.
  • Lighting. Research has shown that natural lighting can improve cognition and mood. Consider placing your child's desk near a window to allow natural light in the workspace.
  • Seating. Postural support (a well-supported trunk with feet rested on the floor) has been shown to improve learning outcomes. Consider active seating arrangements, such as a medicine ball or therapeutic cushion to promote good posture.
  • Novelty. Novelty activates the brain's alerting system, which can enhance memory formation. Allow your child to create his own work space. Consider occasionally changing decoration or orientation of the space to introduce novelty.
  • Scent. Aromatherapy may be appropriate for a child with anxiety. Use a diffuser to introduce a calming scent into your child's work room. Citrus and lavender have been shown to have calming benefits!
Emotional Environment
  • Practice mindfulness. Incorporate mindfulness tasks in your child's daily routine to help bolster emotional control.
  • Encourage a consistent sleep cycle. Lack of sleep can negatively affect mood and behavior.
  • Give feedback and praise! Feedback is so important in creating a positive emotional climate. Make sure your feedback is appropriate and behavior-specific. For example, instead of saying, "Great job!" you could say, "I love the way you checked your work for errors before you decided it was finished. That was so responsible of you!"
  • Get moving! Exercise bolsters mood and learning. Encourage exercise daily. Consider doing a physical warm up before your child starts his homework.
  • Promote inner calm. You can do this by using humor, breathing exercises, or even keeping a gratitude journal with your child.
  • Snacks! Chewing food can lower stress and regulate alertness. Offer a healthy snack during homework time.


Given the relationship between emotion, stress, and executive function skills, it is critical to help your child learn to regulate his emotions in order to optimize learning outcomes. Incorporating strategies into your child's daily routine may assist in creating a physical environment that promotes attention and engagement, as well as an emotional environment conducive to calming the negative.