Q: My child spends so much time on homework and has so little to show for it. He seems to take forever to get rolling with it, gets derailed with anything and everything, whines and complains about doing it, and sometimes even when he does his homework thoroughly and well, he might not turn it in. What the heck?!

A: You may be surprised at how common what you’re describing can be. Your child might be struggling with executive functioning. Executive functioning skills are behaviors required to plan out and achieve complex goals. Among the key aspects of this are adaptable thinking, planning, self-control, working memory, time management, and organizational skills. Targeted interventions help those who struggle in these areas. Your child might also benefit from using compensatory skills. You can think of compensatory skills as workarounds. For example, if your child often forgets his homework, you might make sure he packs his backpack at night before every school day. What specific area does your child have difficulties with? And what’s a small strategy he can use to target them? Is your child daunted by the subject of homework as a whole or unmotivated to do it? Since executive function coaching covers a lot of ground, it’s systematically tailored for the child’s specific concerns, and generally includes skill building focusing on one area at a time. It may be disheartening to see your child struggle, but improvement can be achieved with effective practice and support.