Executive Function

In the world of academics, “executive function” is, to put it mildly, a big deal. A student with weak executive function will probably struggle with staying organized, setting goals, prioritizing, turning in work on time, overcoming the impulse to procrastinate, following instructions, accurately judging the quality of his work, paying attention in class, resisting distractions, solving complicated problems, and deciding how to study when structure isn’t provided.

And outside of academics, weak executive function can contribute to a wide variety of issues, ranging from bad manners to depression to reckless, illegal behavior.

Most parents have at least some sense of what executive function is and why it matters. Less common, however, is a clear understanding of the role parents play in a child’s developing executive function. So let’s dive in.

What is executive function?

Essentially, it’s the CEO of the mind, the part of the brain in charge of what we think and do. It’s the planner, the organizer, and the decider.

However, if you dig into any of the literature about executive function, you’ll quickly learn that it has many components. Some don’t even refer to it in the singular, instead referring to “the executive functions.” I prefer the singular because I like the metaphor of the CEO who possesses all the necessary skills to run a company: Executive function is the collection of skills necessary to run your own life.

Executive function links moment-to-moment decision-making with long-term planning. It’s how we align our actions with our values. This is not a purely intellectual ability, and it is largely independent of IQ, though a high IQ might compensate for or mask some executive function challenges.

Executive function is a combination of social, emotional, and intellectual skills. These three categories overlap a bit and many of the aspects are interconnected, but we can still use these three buckets to sort out the primary components of executive function:

Key intellectual components:

  • Deciding what’s worth focusing on and then paying attention to it
  • Working memory – the ability to juggle several pieces of information in the mind at once
  • Comprehension and creativity – putting the puzzle pieces together by seeing how they relate to one another
  • Planning – thinking about the future, considering various options, and deciding on a course of action
  • Troubleshooting – using flexible thinking and resourcefulness to navigate unexpected problems

Key emotional components:

  • Awareness of your own emotions and the capacity for introspection
  • The ability to distinguish yourself and your values from how you feel in the moment
  • The ability to choose courses of action that run counter to how you feel in the moment
  • Keeping your cool when things don’t go the way you planned
  • Patience, self-control, and delayed gratification

Key social components:

  • Awareness of other people’s emotions, desires, and perspectives
  • Awareness of how you appear to others
  • Consideration, politeness, manners, and waiting your turn
  • Communicating – choosing your words carefully and thinking before you speak
  • Asking for help when you need it

These are all very important skills for success in both school and life. And because executive function is composed of so many little skills, there is no magic pill or silver bullet that fixes executive function problems. Instead, there are countless little opportunities to help develop and strengthen these skills.

It’s another classic case of growing rather than fixing, and a fantastic arena in which to employ the philosophy of everything counts. Every moment is an opportunity to make progress, and every step in the right direction is worthwhile.

Also, because executive function is a constellation of skills and not a single characteristic, two individuals who are “weak” in executive function may have quite different skill-profiles, which would then result in different outcomes and guide us toward different approaches for accommodation and remediation. For example, someone may be very good at planning, but very poor at social-emotional comprehension, while another individual could have the opposite skill-profile. Both have executive function issues, but they are quite dissimilar. Hence, executive function work needs to be personalized to match the particular student in question.

Where is executive function in the brain?

Mostly, it’s in the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain right behind the forehead. It is one of the newest and largest parts of the brain.

And for parents, probably the most important thing to know is that the prefrontal cortex develops last. It is still developing into our mid-twenties, which is partly why car rental companies don’t do business with people who are under 25. They’ve known that young drivers are more prone to reckless behavior for far longer than we’ve had the neuroscience to explain why.

Although development “finishes” during our mid-twenties, we’re still able to improve the prefrontal cortex throughout adulthood because it’s the most dynamic, malleable part of the brain. The prefrontal cortex, which is the primary seat of executive function, is the area of the brain with the most potential for growth. And, it’s worth noting that the most well-researched method for strengthening the prefrontal cortex is meditation, which is a classic example of neurogenesis. (Side-note: mindfulness and the four skills that it’s composed of are closely related to executive function. Click here to learn about those four skills and the benefits of mindfulness as a whole.)

Critically, however, the prefrontal cortex is also the part of the brain that is most vulnerable to hunger and fatigue, and it is the first thing to shut down when we’re experiencing an emotional crisis. This is the result of your brain’s history, as newer parts of your brain are prone to shutting down when our basic needs aren’t being met. This means that being well-rested and well-fed is a simple way to improve executive function.

This also means that even strong executive function skills can evaporate at certain times of day or during emotionally challenging situations. For example, I am not a morning person, so my executive function is horrendously low for the first hour or two of the day. For this reason, I have established a very consistent morning routine that sets me up to have a better day. I also map out my days the night before because I know that I’ll struggle with planning in the morning. This is self-imposed “scaffolding”: My routines provide a framework for me to lean on when I’m too tired to think straight.

So, another way to support executive function is to establish consistent routines for those times when your children are likely to struggle the most: times when they’re tired, times when they’re hungry, or times of transition. The three most classic are: the morning, right after school, and bedtime.

So what’s the parent’s role in developing the child’s executive function?

In many ways, the answer to that question depends on the age of the child.

Initially, parents must do everything for their children because babies are pretty helpless. But as time goes on, children can do more for themselves. So instead of doing everything for them, parents provide support, guidance, and boundaries. Children develop increasing abilities and independence using this scaffolding that parents provide. And as children become teenagers and teenagers become adults, the scaffolding is gradually reduced until it’s no longer needed at all.

The goal, of course, is for them to grow up into fully independent adults who are no longer reliant on you. This can only happen if they have opportunities to practice increasing independence as they grow up. Therefore, micromanaging must steadily give way to a more hands-off approach.

Let’s use the example of clothing to explore this transition from infancy to adulthood.

When your child is an infant, you dress her because she cannot put on her own clothes. At some point during toddlerhood, you shift to helping her dress herself. Eventually, she is capable of dressing herself, so she does it on her own, but you might still be choosing her clothes for her. Choosing clothes might then become a joint-effort between the two of you, but eventually she’ll pick out her own outfits. You might still exercise the power of veto if she chooses poorly or selects clothes inappropriate for a formal event. Later, this might just be a reminder to take a jacket if it’s cold outside. Throughout her childhood, you purchase her clothes for her, but at some point, she starts giving input while you’re shopping for clothes. Later, she buys her own clothes but uses your money. And lastly, she buys her own clothes with her own money.

This gradual decrease in parental support is relatively straightforward when it comes to clothing, but it can be much more challenging and much more complicated when it comes to such areas as succeeding in school or staying safe. For these, deciding how much control to exert and when to let go is very difficult, and there are no simple answers. Granting your child increasing levels of independence is necessary, but it’s also risky.

And with risk comes emotion. It’s hard to watch your child do something unsafe, and it’s hard to watch your child make choices that lead to low grades. But if your child is to develop executive function, she’ll need to have opportunities to screw up. And it’s often better to let her learn these hard lessons when the stakes are still relatively low.

Finding the right balance between short-term success and long-term growth is difficult, but it’s a worthwhile effort. It is possible to find a middle ground between helicopter parenting and laissez-faire parenting, between micromanaging and being completely hands off. This is very similar to the fruitful middle ground that exists between extremes of parenting styles. In between the extremes of doing it all for them and doing nothing at all, there are varying degrees of scaffolding. And, most importantly, there is always modeling.


In addition to providing active support, parents also have the very important job of leading by example. Parents are the primary role models for children, and your actions often speak much louder than your words. As Greg Smith likes to say, “Children are always learning, and parents are always teaching. It’s just probably not happening when you think it is.”

Young children might be open to taking your executive function advice, but older children and especially teenagers are likely to reject any advice you give. Indeed, sometimes telling a teenager to “be organized” or “use a planner” actually makes the problem worse because they’ll do the opposite of what you’ve advised in order to assert their growing independence. (See also: “Why a Teenager is Like a Chinese Finger-Trap”)

This means modeling is your primary tool for “teaching” executive function.

“You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.” –Oliver Goldsmith

The trouble is, when you get really good at executive function, as most adults do, too much of it is done in silence, too much is done in your head. And when executive function skills are utilized in this way, your children don’t get to observe you working things out. You need to give them more opportunities to see and hear your executive function techniques in action.

This means verbalizing your thought processes more – not talking to your children, but talking in the presence of your children. It also means being transparent about your challenges with problem-solving, emotional regulation, and taking the perspective of others. And it means being deliberately open about the use of tools, techniques, and strategies to enhance your executive function.

Let your children see you using a notebook to write down your ideas. Let them see you relying on reminders rather than memory. Let them see you brainstorming a to-do list for the weekend. Let them see you using a calendar to plan ahead. Let them see you asking questions and learning from mistakes. Let them see you being an active agent in life.

They may not be ready to use any of these tools, or they simply may not want to. That’s okay. Telling them to use them would only create more resistance. Steadily lead by example so that, when they are ready, they’ll have a model to follow.

Grow Those Muscles

All the skills I mentioned in the detailed breakdown of executive function are like little brain muscles. These abilities become stronger with use. Difficult academic courses, chores, volunteer work, and jobs all offer opportunities to exercise those skills. So encouraging children to take on obligations and challenges is a great way to help them develop stronger executive function. Though they may not initially be ready for the tasks they take on, they’ll get stronger by struggling. Responsibilities make you more response-able.

There are, however, more enjoyable ways to develop executive function skills. Play and games of all types can support the growth of executive function. Strategy games in particular require the key intellectual skills of planning and choosing. And more interactive games and imaginative play help cultivate the emotional and social skills of executive function. Getting stronger can be fun!

More to Come

This is a big topic, and I’ve barely scratched the surface.

My goal here was to lay the groundwork for deeper exploration into executive function and provide a framework through which to think about supporting executive function development in children. Future blog posts will look more at specific strategies and tactics parents can use. In the meantime, you might peruse our list of recommended executive function books.

And you’re always welcome to dive into specifics in a one-on-one setting with either Greg Smith or myself.

Greg, through Northwest Educational Services, offers parent coaching. He would love to discuss how you can support executive function growth at home. We will also be offering a seminar devoted to this topic in August as part of our 5-part series on “Parenting For Academic Success.” 

Or if you’re interested in developing stronger executive function yourself,  you can work directly with me. Strengthening your personal executive function is essential to everything from career advancement to improving your mental health. Plus, you want to be adept at modeling executive function skills in front of your kids, right?


About the Author

Chris Loper has been an academic coach for Northwest Educational Services since 2014. He also writes the popular self-improvement blog Becoming Better, so if you liked this article, head on over to becomingbetter.org and check out his other work. Chris also offers behavioral change coachinghelping busy adults with habit formation and productivity. He lives in Seattle, WA.


Works Cited

I have drawn from numerous sources, all of which overlap with one another in some way. And my primary resource for this was none other than the owner of Northwest Educational Services, Greg Smith. So in lieu of a traditional works cited list, here are the books and websites I’ve drawn from:

Forgan, James, Ph.D. and Mary Anne Richey. The Impulsive, Disorganized Child: Solutions for Parenting Kids with Executive Functioning Difficulties. Prufrock Press, 2015.

Galinsky, Ellen. Mind in the Making. HarperStudio, 2010.

Tough, Paul. How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.

MacDonald, Matthew. Your Brain: The Missing Manual. O’Reilly Media, 2008.

Alhola, Paula and Päivi Polo-Kantola. “Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance.” Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2007 Oct; 3(5): 553–567. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656292/

Diamond, Adele. “Executive Functions.” Annu Rev Psychol. 2013; 64: 135–168. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4084861/

“Overview of Executive Functions.” Weill Institute for Neurosciences. University of California, San Francisco. http://memory.ucsf.edu/ftd/overview/biology/executive/single

“Executive Function & Self-Regulation.” Center on the Developing Child. Harvard University. 2017. http://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/executive-function/

“Executive Function.” Child Mind Institute. 2017. https://childmind.org/topics/concerns/executive-function/

Lahey, Jessica. “How Family Game Night Makes Kids Into Better Students.” The Atlantic. July 16th, 2014. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/07/how-family-game-night-makes-kids-into-better-students/374525/

Lazar, Sara W., et al. “Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness.” NIH Public Access. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. February 6, 2006. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361002/.

Rely on Reminders not Memory

Perhaps the most common error in strategy students commit is relying on memory rather than relying on reminders. Students aren’t the only ones making this mistake, of course. Adults also rely too much on memory and not enough on reminders. I know because I used to be one of those adults.

There have been countless times when I had the intention to do something but then forgot. The things I forgot ranged from the mundane, such as stopping by the grocery store on the way home from work, to the very important, such as purchasing plane tickets before they become extremely expensive. I spent most of my life avoiding using reminders as a matter of pride. “I’m smart enough to remember,” I told myself. For me, at least, it took many painful mistakes for the lesson to sink in. The lesson was simple: I couldn’t rely on my memory.

Now, this isn’t because I have an especially weak memory. Quite the opposite is true: My academic career showed me that my memory was exceptionally strong. One friend nicknamed me “The Sponge” because my brain would readily absorb and be able to recall whatever it was taught. For example, I was shown the first 20 digits of pi for a minute in 6th grade, and I’ve been able to recite them ever since.* Experiences like this, however, simply bred in me overconfidence. They led me to resist using any tools that could help me remember things.

Gradually, I realized that I didn’t just need reminders. I wanted them. They make life much easier. I looked back on my time as a student and realized that I had been making school harder than it really is.

Intelligence, Productivity, and Creativity

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” ―David Allen

Reminders decrease my cognitive load, which frees up brainpower that I can put to better use. I can more easily focus on my work. My creativity and my productivity increase. I no longer worry about forgetting things, so I have less anxiety. I’m more reliable, and I’m better at making time for friends. In short, reminders make me both happier and more effective.

In the end, my shift from relying on memory to relying on reminders came down to giving myself permission to be human. Robots might one day have perfect memory, but I’m not a robot. I’m a human being, and humans forget things, which is okay because humans also invented some pretty handy tools to deal with forgetting, the most important of which is writing.

A Toolkit of Reminders

As my life has become increasingly busy, I’ve come to utilize several overlapping systems of reminders:

  • Writing things on my hand
  • Sticky notes
  • Signs posted at my desk
  • Daily to-do lists
  • Weekly to-do lists
  • Long-term to-do lists
  • Emails sent to myself
  • And Google Calendar, synced to my phone

Note how most of that list is super low-tech. It doesn’t have to be fancy and digital to be effective.

But wait, you might be thinking, Why all the overlap?

Well, the thing is, I don’t really trust the reminders either. Like many people, I’m inclined to conveniently “forget” to do things that I don’t want to do, so I might avoid looking at my list of chores. But if I put something down as a reminder in more than one place, I’m much more likely to see it. At least that way, I can’t lie to myself and say I didn’t remember. The more important something is, the more places it goes.


Parents and educators can subtly communicate the necessity of reminders through leading by example. For instance, when a student mentions something important but then moves right on to talking about something else, say, “Hold on. I have to write that down because I’m probably going to forget about it.” Every time a student sees this happen, they’re being reminded of the fact that the brain is a forgetting machine, and the number one strategy to deal with forgetting is writing things down.

You’ll find that modeling the use of reminders is much more effective than teaching students about the use of reminders. Teenagers especially don’t like to listen to advice and often reject even very good advice. Remember, a teenager is like a Chinese finger trap. But teenagers are not immune to behavioral contagion. Far from it. We all have the tendency to do whatever those around us do. So use reminders consistently, and the behavior will probably rub off on your children.


For regular, recurring tasks that I want to do, such as practicing Spanish on Duolingo, I will create recurring appointments with myself on Google Calendar. That way, at the same time every day, I’m reminded to practice Spanish. Such an item might also get written on a daily to-do list because I enjoy the satisfaction of crossing off completed tasks. Duolingo, by the way, knows the importance of reminders and will send you an email every day reminding you to practice.

If I succeed in remembering to practice Spanish every day at roughly the same time, after several weeks, it will start to become a habitual, automatic routine. This is the ultimate in shifting away from a reliance on memory. The reminders become unconscious cues that trigger the routine.1 Eventually, I won’t need any reminders at all.

The traditional way students rely on reminders rather than memory is the oft-dreaded planner. The planner is a fantastic tool, but many students hate it. There are many alternatives, including to-do lists and electronic calendars. But some of the most successful students graduate beyond reminders by developing the habit of engaging with every class, every day.

However, developing new habits is hard, so at the beginning, the more reminders the better. It can even take months before a habit is well established enough to be done without any reminders. And because habits are so difficult to establish, it’s best to only work on one new habit at a time.2

Parents can lead by example here too. What’s one thing that would improve your life if you did it on a regular basis? You might be able to think of many things, but just pick one, set up some reminders, and make it a habit.**


*I later figured out that the reason my memory appears to be so good is because I’m constantly engaging in mental recall practice.

**If you’d like coaching on how to establish a new habit, this is my specialty.


About the Author

Chris Loper has been an academic coach for Northwest Educational Services since 2014. He also writes the popular self-improvement blog Becoming Better, so if you liked this article, head on over to becomingbetter.org and check out his other work. Chris also offers behavioral change coachinghelping busy adults with habit formation and productivity. He lives in Seattle, WA.


Works Cited

1 Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Random House, 2012.

2 Ben-Shahar, Tal. Psychology 1504: Positive Psychology. Harvard Open Course, 2009.

Image Credits

Title Image: Creative Commons Public Domain. Courtesy of Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/en/laptop-apple-keyboard-technology-2592623/.

Written Reminders: Creative Commons Public Domain. Courtesy of Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/en/sticky-note-paper-notebook-pencil-2586309/.

Planner: Creative Commons Public Domain. Courtesy of Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/en/day-planner-calendar-organizer-828611/.

Should You Skip a Year in Math?

Many parents, mostly of middle-school aged students, express a desire to see their child skip a year in math. Many students share the same desire. Sometimes they see it as a way to get ahead because it will mean they can start taking college calculus while still in high school. Others want to jump up a year in math because some of their peers have, and they want to keep up with the Joneses. Some even equate being on the standard math track with being “dumb” even though it really just means you’re progressing at the normal pace.

So much of our culture and our academic systems are built on comparisons. We compare ourselves to our peers. We compare grades and test scores. We compare our children to other people’s children. While understandable and difficult to avoid entirely, deriving our sense of self-worth from such comparisons is unhealthy. We want to shift away from this sort of dependent self-esteem and toward healthier, independent self-esteem.

It’s Not About Intelligence

Usually, the belief that one’s son or daughter should be allowed to skip a year in math is born out of the belief that the child is “smart” enough to do so. But this reflects a deep misunderstanding about math, intelligence, and school in general. It turns out that being smart has almost nothing to do with whether or not you should skip a year.

You could legitimately skip a year in math when you are a full year ahead in both your knowledge and your skills. This is very different from having a high IQ. One can easily have a high IQ and gain math knowledge very quickly without ever practicing math skills outside of schoolwork, leaving those skills underdeveloped. One can easily have a high IQ and have many knowledge gaps. And those gaps matter. They weaken the foundation of math’s upside down pyramid, setting the child up for difficulties in the future.

Being able to skip a year in math is something that students earn through independent study and extra practice. We often see students who believe that they are entitled to be in an advanced math class but who are completely unwilling to do this extra work.

If, as a 7th grader, you already know everything they’re going to teach in 8th grade, and you’ve practiced it all enough to have it fairly well mastered, then yes, you could jump into Algebra 1. But if you haven’t, then to skip a year would be a mistake.

A Well-Built House

If you were building a house, would you begin construction on the first floor before laying a foundation? Or would you add the second floor before you finish framing the first floor? Of course not. But, as Khan Academy founder Sal Khan points out in this TED Talk, this is precisely what we do with math students. Math is always built on what came before. We move kids through the curriculum, year to year, whether or not they’re really ready to advance.

If you earned a 70% in this year’s math class, you get to advance. But next year, you’ll be expected to not only remember the 70% you did know – some of which you’ll forget – you’ll also be expected to know the 30% you didn’t learn this year. In other words, you get to build next year’s curriculum on top of an incomplete foundation. Likewise, a student who thinks they’re ready to skip 8th grade math but only knows 70% of the 8th grade curriculum is not ready for the jump.

Or course, in either case, the student could make good use of summer and fill in those knowledge gaps, but how many students are willing to do that?

It’s Also Not Entirely About Content

As my rhetorical question makes clear, being “ready” to move ahead in math is about much more than just knowing the content.  It’s also about work ethic and the willingness to regularly practice math when no one is making you. Moving forward in math requires an eagerness to learn strategy and the willingness to use helpful techniques instead of taking shortcuts.

This turns out to be particularly problematic for the very group of students who are most often encouraged to skip a year. Students for whom elementary and middle school math comes easily often run into trouble in Algebra 1 because, up until now, they’ve gotten away with doing problems in their heads. They’ve never learned to engage with pencil-and-paper techniques that reduce cognitive load, so when the math demands that they show their work, they often get stuck, or they make so many mistakes that they get frustrated and start to dislike math.

Furthermore, students for whom math comes easily at a young age are often disinclined to practice. They’ve been told they’re smart, and one way to prove they’re smart is to succeed without hard work. Discovering that they actually need to put in some work to succeed in math is such an unpleasant wake-up call for these students that many ignore it. Every student who has breezed through math with ease will eventually hit the wall. It might not happen during Algebra 1, or even during high school, but it will happen.

It’s one thing to be a year ahead in math ability and content knowledge; it’s another thing entirely to be a year ahead in character development. Skipping ahead successfully requires both. And I’ve just been talking about skipping one year. Many students are encouraged to skip two!

“But I’m bored!”

Boredom is often a reason folks think skipping a year in math is a good idea. The student reports being bored in math class, and this is taken to mean that the class is too easy for him. And although this does sometimes happen, it’s actually very rare.

Let’s assume the class is being taught at grade level and at a pace that is reasonably challenging for the average student. For a student to be academically bored by such a class, he would have to be cognitively far ahead of his peers and already know the content being taught.

Far more common is that the “boredom” is really a normal and natural aversion to paying attention to lectures, taking notes, and doing homework. Math homework that forms strong memories and strong skills generally involves tedious, repetitive problem solving. Math will, for most students, always seem boring compared to video games, television, playing with friends, and sports. Nobody ever said the mastery path would be thrilling every step of the way.

And sometimes this boredom occurs when a class is moving more slowly than it should for the grade level. The fact that this year’s math class is abnormally easy does not mean next year’s math class will be. In fact, if this is what’s going on, next year’s math class will seem abnormally hard because this year’s class isn’t adequately preparing the students.

Repeating a Year

The flip side of jumping ahead is retaking a year in math.

We allow students to “pass” and move forward in math if they earn a 60% or higher. But, as I pointed out earlier, if you learned less than 70% of the material, you’re probably going to have a hard time next year. Sadly, our system is set up such that many students get sent forward when they’re not ready. And, though they may survive whatever comes next year, they won’t feel very good about it. Year after year, they fall further and further behind, and math becomes more and more unpleasant. These students are the ones most likely to fall into the downward spiral of math avoidance.

And that’s a shame. If we allowed more students to proceed through math slowly, making sure that they build mastery at each level before moving on, I think a great many more students would feel capable of pursuing careers in fields that require math. Instead, we rush students through, always moving forward and making it shameful to be “held back,” even though, sometimes, the wiser choice is repeating a class.

And what if your child skipped a year back in middle school and is now struggling as a sophomore? Few people consider this, but it can be a good choice to drop back to grade level by repeating a class.

When a student repeats a year in math, either by requirement or by choice, the family is wading into tricky emotional waters. It is essential that parents use growth-mindset language, expressing certainty about the student’s potential for growth, praising effort and strategy, and avoiding comparing the student to his peers. If you’re in this position, Greg would love to discuss how best to navigate these waters.

Can vs. Should

One way to frame this conversation is to consider the distinction between “can” and “should.” Just because you can move ahead doesn’t mean you should. Just because a teacher is allowing or even encouraging it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. You can move forward with a D or a C in a math class, but you should consider retaking the class, even though you technically don’t have to.

Choosing not to skip ahead in math or repeating a class might feel like a setback or a loss this year, but it’s likely to be a win in the long run. If the goal is merely to look smart now, then by all means, skip ahead. But if the goal is long-term success, take it slow.


About the Author

Chris Loper has been an academic coach for Northwest Educational Services since 2014. He also writes the popular self-improvement blog Becoming Better, so if you liked this article, head on over to becomingbetter.org and check out his other work. Chris also offers behavioral change coachinghelping busy adults with habit formation and productivity. He lives in Seattle, WA.


Image Credits

Title Image: Creative Commons Public Domain. Courtesy of Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/en/parkour-performance-movement-jump-643694/.

House: Creative Commons Public Domain. Courtesy of Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/en/cottage-upside-down-house-928979/.

Bored: Creative Commons Public Domain. Courtesy of Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/en/bored-female-girl-people-school-16811/.