Back-to-School in 2021, with Executive Function Coach Seth Perler

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This week I’m sharing a thoughtful and practical conversation about the particular considerations for this back-to-school 2021 season, for many kids, the first time back in a physical classroom in over a year. And who better to have this conversation with than friend of the show and our favorite renegade-teacher-turned-executive-functioning-coach Seth Perler? Seth’s mission is to help struggling students navigate a crazy educational landscape, while doing his part to “disrupt” and improve education, and he’s been on the show a number of times to talk about executive function, resistance, and executive function.

As we prepare for back-to-school 2021, there’s so much anxiety in the air. Seth and I keep hearing from parents: “What’s it going to be like?” “What about learning loss?” “How can I support my neurodivergent child with yet another adjustment?”  In other words: are the kids going to be okay? So, Seth and I wanted to talk frankly about all these concerns and more. 

In our conversation, Seth talks about the challenges parents, caregivers, and educators face in supporting our kids post-pandemic, what our biggest priorities should be, and gives us concrete suggestions on specific things to do to help our kids and ourselves prepare for the transition back to school after a difficult and disruptive year. I can always count on Seth to bring passion, practicality, and profound insights to our discussions. I hope this conversation helps you feel confident and hopeful as we head back to school.  


About Seth Perler

Seth Perler is an Executive Function Coach and Consultant with extensive experience addressing extraordinarily diverse learning needs. Seth was a teacher for 12 years, working with a diverse range of Gifted and Twice Exceptional (2E) students in charter schools for 8 years, and teaching students with ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia and other executive function challenges, as well as students with developmental disabilities. He’s been an Executive Function coach for middle, high school and college students since 2010.

Seth has a passion for meeting the highly unique needs of individual students and places heavy emphasis on addressing social, emotional, lifestyle and executive function issues in order to help students experience success. His specialty tends to be working with twice-exceptional learners. Seth designed ShineOn Educational Solutions as a service to meet with families in order to provide highly customized guidance to meet the complex needs of learners.


Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • What parents should be prioritizing right now as their kids head back to school, some for the first time in the classroom in over a year
  • Why parents and caregivers should NOT panic about their child’s potential regression, lagging executive function skills, etc. 
  • Seth’s thoughts on what school might be like for kids this year and his best practical tips for parents, caregivers, and educators
  • Best practices for “scaffolding” and what that might look like in the back-to-school season 2021
  • Why parents should think carefully about their most important messages for their kids


Resources mentioned for considerations for back-to-school 2021


Episode Transcript

Debbie Reber  00:00

This episode is brought to you by TEFOS, The Executive Function Online Summit, running August 20 through the 22nd. If your child struggles with the skills needed to get important school and life stuff done, this free three day online immersion event will give you exceptional strategies from leading experts who get outside the box kids and executive function. Go to to learn more and register.

Seth Perler  00:28

In other words, it’s not so much about the message, but it’s that we’ve worked on ourselves and we try, we show through modeling and through our nervous system, that we are a safe, grounded human being that they can come to, and they can tell us anything, they can tell us anything, and we will listen. And we will be patient. And we will not lecture and use rationalizing and try to get them to see the light and reason with them. And we will not invalidate their feelings and say, Oh, you shouldn’t feel this way. Or you shouldn’t think that. Or you shouldn’t whatever. But we will say with curiosity. Wow. Tell me more.

Debbie Reber  01:12

Welcome to Tilt Parenting, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host, Debbie Reber. In this episode, I’m excited to bring you a thoughtful and practical conversation about the particular considerations for this back to school season for many kids, the first time back in a physical classroom in over a year. And who better to have this conversation with then a friend of the show and our favorite renegade teacher turned to executive function coach Seth Perler. For those who are new to the show, Seth’s mission is to help struggling students navigate a crazy educational landscape while doing his part to disrupt and improve education. And he’s been on the show a number of times to talk about executive function, resistance and shortcomings in our school system. As we prepare for the upcoming school year, there is so much anxiety in the air and Seth and I keep hearing from parents, what’s it going to be like? What about learning loss? How can I support my neurodivergent child with yet another adjustment. So Seth, and I wanted to talk frankly, about all these concerns and more. In our conversation, Seth talks about the challenges parents, caregivers and educators face in supporting our kids at post pandemic, what our biggest priorities should be, and gives us concrete suggestions on specific things to do to help our kids and ourselves prepare for the transition back to school. After a difficult and disruptive year. I can always count on set to bring passion, practicality and profound insights to our discussions. I hope this conversation helps you feel confident and hopeful as we head back to school. Hey, Seth, welcome back to the podcast.

Seth Perler  03:03

Awesome to be with you again, Debbie.

Debbie Reber  03:05

Yeah, I was gonna say something really special about you being the most celebrated guests on the show. You’ve been on more than anyone else. But I did not prepare a speech. But congratulations. So first of all, listeners, please check out the show notes pages, because Seth has been on this show a lot, we collaborate, often we are good friends, we are on the same page, in this work that we’re doing. And so if you’re new to this show, go back and listen to those episodes, because there’s a lot of good stuff there. And you’ll get to know Seth through that as well, if you’re not familiar with him, but I’d love if you just kind of tell us what’s happening in your world. You know, how are you doing right now? And what’s new and exciting for you?

Seth Perler  03:50

Yeah, well, you just said that we’re on the same page. It’s so good to collaborate with you. And you know, you’re one of my favorite people. You’re my favorite education podcaster in the world, and being on the same page, you know, in related to, like, what’s going on with me, means that, you know, I’m in the midst of as always, of my life’s work and trying to sort of figure out how I can use the last however many decades of my life to contribute to kids and education and humanity and the world of people having good life. So that’s where I think you and I are, you know, we’re coming from this place of, there’s some crazy gene that we have that we’re like obsessed with that sort of a question like, what can we do to bring good, and we just happened to you know, our ways through trying to help kids. So I’m overwhelmed with those things. I get so many ideas, and I have a lot of coals in the fire. Some that my audience knows about and some that my audience doesn’t know about. But that’s where I’m just always trying and you know, the Um, I run a summit which is coming up and, and I finished coaching for the school year. And so anyhow, that’s kind of what’s going on with me. I’m just, it’s like the school year is over with kids. And it was a crazy year, a bizarre year on so many levels, such a privilege, such a privilege to work with families and kids during this time, and to try to do a little bit to be helpful to people. But still, it was an exhausting school year, with a lot of needs. And I’m glad to have a little bit of a break from that. But obviously, it’s kind of like when you clean the counter in the kitchen, it will everybody starts throwing stuff down on the counter because there’s a clean, so you know, it’s like, there’s this void, and boom, instantly, it’s like a vacuum and it’s filled with other projects that have been on the back burner.

Debbie Reber  05:53

Yeah, that is definitely something that you and I share. And it seems like, there is no shortage of ideas, no shortage of things to do. And the need is so great. So I’m just gonna say make sure that you do take time to rest and take care of yourself. I know that you’re pretty good about taking care of yourself. But that’s really a message I drill home to parents, but I’m gonna just drill it home to you too.

Seth Perler  06:18

I try. I do. I do try. Yeah, yeah. And there’s a lot of self patients that has to come with that, because I never get my list on ever.

Debbie Reber  06:28

Yeah. Yeah. self compassion. Patience. Yeah. I feel you. I feel like you said. So, you know, as we’re recording this. It’s almost a year to the day when you and I started talking about, you know, what was going on for our kids. And we saw such a great need among the parents and educators serving differently wired kids, especially in this in such a year it was with COVID. And, and then going back to school and this unusual landscape, and we collaborated and did this webinar. I think it was four hours long. It was called, What should we be doing anyway? And it was all about prioritizing, you know, what should our priorities be right now for our kids. So now that a year has gone by since we did that we are still entering the school year in a strange landscape, you know, for different reasons. And I’m just wondering, what do you think? Let’s answer that question. Again. You know, have their priorities changed? What is really coming forward for you as being something that’s really the things that are really important right now?

Seth Perler  07:38

Yeah, the prime priorities have changed in my opinion. I think the number one priority remains the same and we’re probably on the same page about that but the number one priority is love loving your kid loving your family loving yourself. Love not as just a feeling but love as an action. Meaning love means spending time with your kid you know, doing it leered saying about myself care me getting the sleep by me getting the fitness the connection with people the time to myself, like loving, loving myself through action loving, you know, but in terms of this conversation, loving your kid through action, laughter with your kid, notice like taking time to plan, not just all the extracurriculars and all the things that have to be in planner, but to plan time for unstructured connection, game time, conversations about absolute meaningless stuff and conversations about super heavy stuff with your kid. So love through doing, going places with them, doing things with them, those sorts of quality, time, quality time with your kid. And I think under the umbrella of love as an action. And thinking about how to support our kids in the priority, it’s that that’s still the number one priority. But what is a little bit different? In the tone of that for me, you and I use the term deep inner work. When we do our deep inner work when the adult does their own self reflection or meditation or prayer or journaling or therapy or counseling or whatever or support groups are the really hard, hard, hard work of looking inside. Being honest, personal growth. When we’re doing that work, we’re modeling for our kids, hey, I love myself. And this is what annatto who loves themselves does. And this year, I feel like there needs to be more of a commitment from all the adults on planet earth to stretch ourselves and you to work on our own fears, our own belief systems, our own motivations for why we’re our own thoughts and actions and why we think the things we do because there is so much tension in the world right now. And our kids, as they enter school this fall, are going to be exposed to a lot of new heated different conversations, which in some ways is super exciting. And in some ways, there’s a lot of darkness around this and a lot of fear, and a lot of emotion that they’re going to be exposed to. So I think, more than last time now, the last time we had, you know, COVID was brand new, and there was a different texture of fear and discomfort and confusion and stuff. I think it is more important this fall than last fall. Because last was like we’re all in this together. All these famous artists are making these YouTube videos with music together from different locations, blah, blah, blah, everybody’s like, coming together. And now there’s been like these great divisions. Okay, we humans need each other, even if we don’t agree on everything. We need each other. We absolutely. And so I think more than ever, we need to get real honest and real clear on what is triggering us and how real that is, like, how much of it is our nervous system and our story and our and how true are those stories and get real clear on that through the deep inner work. So I do think the number one priority is still the same love. Love is an action connection relationship, building the relationship you get, that’s the number one priority. But in doing that, I think the stretching yourself in the commitment to doing something extra this year, I hate to put more on people’s plates. Not like I’m telling anybody what they need to do that, can I? But I feel like we as the adults, the leaders, for our kids in this world need to set the example by having a commitment to really stretching ourselves and really being embro. Guard because it be like, Hey, I’m sorry, I made a mistake about such and such I was wrong. Hey, I’ve been working on this thing about myself. What are your thoughts? What do you notice I should be working on? What do you wish was different? How can I show up for you know, things like that? So what are your thoughts on different priorities? What about you?

Debbie Reber  12:34

Yeah, I mean, similarly, I’m thinking so much about our kids’ mental health right now. And this is, you know, certainly not a new discussion that I’m having on the show. And in talking with other colleagues and parenting authors and people working in child development, and therapists. Mental health is the term that just keeps coming up. And so really, knowing that we like I love that you talked about us doing our own work, because we as parents and caregivers, and educators, we have been through a lot and we are depleted, we are in a different place. And I don’t think we’ve recovered. I’ve been really enjoying Adam Grant’s articles on languishing. And you know, he’s been writing these interesting pieces for the New York Times about the collective emotional states that we are moving through. But I think it’s really important that we are aware of the fact that we are moving through this that we are in this state and processing things. And so leaning into that, that rawness that, that learning that growth and modeling and for kids, I love that you talked about that. And I think it’s really important that we kind of stay focused on that area of emotional mental well being mental health, supporting where we are right now, which is a pretty it’s a tricky space and I and I’m, I’m expecting that the entry to school is going to be perhaps more challenging than we expect. Would you agree with that?

Seth Perler  14:09

Absolutely. I think the divisiveness as we go back to school and one of the things I did want to talk about today’s patients for teachers. And in my work as an executive function coach, I get the kids who don’t fit in the box. And we struggle in school. And I often get kids where there is a teacher to who that everyone’s why, you know, we’re having this discussion and I’m like, wow, this teacher should not be in the classroom, like, there are those teachers. But most teachers are not that teacher. And 50% of teachers leave by your five. That’s an astounding statistic. And now there are more teachers leaving and there are fewer people who are saying I want to be a teacher. Why would people want to I mean, people want Because they love kids, but the price that they have to pay, and in terms of emotionally and people, people are more a lot more clear nowadays, what that means, but to go into a system where you’re going to be, there’s so much divisiveness amongst parents, I just want to encourage everybody, when, when you don’t see eye to eye with the teachers, give them the benefit of the doubt many times, be super patient with them, don’t write them a book, if you’re going to write them an email, know that you’re on the same page know that they, they most more than likely, they really have your kids best interest at heart, and they’re trying to understand your kid, they want to know what your kid needs. So just the patience for teachers and understanding what they’re going through. I can’t imagine being a teacher right now as a teacher for 12 years, and I really can’t imagine it now. So thank you that teachers out there and just be patient with them and assume positive intent, because it probably is.

Debbie Reber  16:02

Yeah, thank you for that reminder, that’s something else I’ve been talking a lot about with some of my other peers is just how burnout teachers are. So that’s a great reminder.

Seth Perler  16:13

We need them in there with our kids. Much like, but yeah, I think this school year that, again, the texture is going to be different, that it’s the I think there’s going to be more pressure on teachers and schools and people going to schools, angry parents going to schools angry and in not having the whole story and coming from, you know, political perspectives about their perceptions of things and just creating a lot of So yeah, I think it’s gonna be I think this fall is a lot different in that way. And it scares me for kids. It really does. I want our kids to live in a peaceful country, a peaceful world, and, and a place where we problem solve and, and are accepting and understanding and there are a lot of loud people who are not that it’s very hard.

Debbie Reber  17:07

So how else can we prepare ourselves so that we can better prepare our kids? Because I think, you know, I always talk about it, just having expectations that are aligned with reality, and what’s happening. And so what other thoughts do you have about what, what parents can do to make this transition, as I don’t know if peaceful is the right word, but you know, to be able to move through it in a way that doesn’t have to feel maybe as scary or so disruptive, and that we can really show up for our kids as we make this transition.

Seth Perler  17:41

I think there’s value and I’m talking about the term scaffolding. Because as the kids are transitioning, they’re going to be expectations that the kids do certain things from through certain hoops. And then we have parenting styles that are very, on two different ends of the pendulum, and everything in between, in a bunch of different metrics. But just in terms of when it comes to how much a child follows through with the expectations, from school, from teachers, from homework, from planners from organizing from all the from looking online to find their stuff online, what these kids are expected to do is a lot and then do they have extracurriculars on top of it and this and that. What they’re expected to do is quite overwhelming. And scaffolding is a concept that is referred to, there’s also a term similar to called Gradual Release of Responsibility, you can Google that. But essentially, a scaffold is something that you can build higher and higher. Let’s say you’re painting a building, you can start with a small scaffold and keep building on it as you’re going up. Similarly, with kids, you know, you’re supporting them. And that level of support changes, depending on the needs. So know that there’s a time when, when you do something for them, you just say Hey, kiddo, you want me to organize your backpack for you, you take it, you get it done in five minutes, let them focus on working on the homework, or whatever it is. There is a time when you have them do their backpack independently. There’s a time when you do the backpack with them and an age and so on and so forth. You know, there’s a time when you say this is ridiculous. I’m not going to let my kids sit here for 20 minutes trying to figure out what the heck is the assignment. I’m going to sift through the websites real quick and figure it out for there’s a time when you say you can handle this. Let’s get you independently doing it. There’s a time when you say this makes no sense. This is crazy. I’m going to email the teacher and the admin and be like we do not understand this. We can’t expect our kid to understand this. You need to be clear. We’re not going to play games with you all year. Please get high please get yourself in check. And it makes It’s clear as to what the kids expected to do, how long it’s supposed to take, where it’s supposed to be turned in, how it’s supposed to be done, you know, those sorts of things. So I think scaffolding, you know, when are you doing? And this is different for every family. But when are you doing too much for your child where it’s enabling it goes into learned helplessness, you’re not helping, you’re doing too much for them? When is it not enough? You’ve taken the training wheels off, and they’re just gonna, like really bruised themselves up in a bad way. When is it just right? And it’s different for every family, every kid, every situation, but find your scaffolding your waist, scaffolding your own truth about when you’re doing too much when you’re doing too little. So I think that that’s one really important concept to keep in mind as you approach this fall. And it’s okay, sometimes to do things for them is what I want to say. And there’s a time when not to, and there’s a time to say the expectations are not realistic. My kid needs to come home and have downtime. Because whatever. And we need to in good conscience and with confidence, contact the school. And no, we’re not a helicopter parent, we’re not a bad parent. But we are saying this is too much. I don’t want you to fail my kid. We can’t do this right now. Like that. We’re not going to spend two hours on this math assignment, you know, whatever, or whatever.

Debbie Reber  21:28

Yeah, and I think scaffolding is one of those really tricky things. And I think it’s tricky now more than ever, because some of our kids may have regressed, some of our kids may be struggling with mental health issues. And so we may be really building up scaffolding and taking a lot of demands off their plates and just doing more things for them. So that they don’t feel shut down. Right, or in that defense mode. And so I think it’s a really important reminder for listeners to just check yourself, right? Like, if you’re noticing you’re having this strong response that will my child used to be able to do this. So they should be able to do it now. Or my child needs to be able to do this, you know, when we start using that language, they need to be able to do this, they have to be able to do this. That is, I think an invitation to be like, Is that really true right now? Is that where our energy needs to be focused right now. So just that idea of there, we might need to be more attuned because that scaffolding might be changing from day to day. And that’s okay. I think that’s to be expected right now. So I love that reminder. And I guess, you know, because I am hearing from parents and caregivers, you know, there’s this kind of underlying panic, especially because of words like learning loss, which I see on, you know, clickbait and articles all the time. And there is this idea that our kids are behind, we need to get them caught up. And so my question for you is why should parents and caregivers not be panicking about loss that they may have had, or the fact that their executive function skills might be lagging more than they anticipated?

Seth Perler  23:18

Yeah, yeah. When you said that they need to get caught up or something like that. It’s like, compared to what? Yeah, I had a mentor one time and I was complaining about something and he goes, What is his? And it may sound so silly, but I needed to hear that, you know, it just is and what we let’s get focused on what we want. We want our kids to have a good life. That’s it. So let’s say that the standards say that a kid in this grade should have this skill, you know, at this level? What does that have to do with your kid’s quality of life? It may or may not, I mean, but to just question those sorts of things who to start questioning? Well, who even wrote the standard? And why was it written? And what about an arm is mental health in the standard? This social emotional stuff in the standards is, you know, so I guess, keep the priority on you know, what is my kid need to have a good life. They need good mental health. They need to have good relationships, they need to know how to have healthy boundaries, they need to know how to push themselves and how to take care of themselves. They need to know that there are all these things that they need. And there were so many problems in the last year and a half, but there’s also so many opportunities so many people did so many interesting things with their time and energy during this time. So there were a lot of good things that happened during that time. So really, really be have you know that we talked about curiosity and non judgmental, really, really have that curiosity and non judgmental attitude of, oh, that’s an interesting thought I just had about this thing. And this is the same thing. You and I talk and most of these experts talk well, when we’re talking about communicating with kids. Oh, I notice. The term I noticed. I noticed you blah, blah, blah. I noticed my mind just said this. I noticed my narrative and my story. My my, I noticed I have a fear around this. I noticed that I was feeling anxious. I’m curious about that anxiety. I’m curious. I’m observing this, I’m not judging it. I’m like, wow, that that’s an interesting thought. What’s that about? Where does that come from? Is that true? If it is true, how true is it? Do I want to continue? So as far as trying to get them, quote, caught up? There is value in asking those questions do like, it depends on what the thing is, in terms of let’s say something, and I’ll sort of end with this. But let’s say something like reading skills, right? Let’s say that, I always felt like I wish we evaluated reading differently. I think if we were to evaluate reading, quote, right? A kid who has good reading skills as a kid who you say, Hey, what do you think about reading and the kid goes, Oh, I love it. That it means that they had a good education around reading? How many kids? Can you walk up to me and say, Hey, what do you think about reading? And they say I love it? Or how do you feel about how many kids are gonna say I love reading? Plenty, but that’s what we want. We want them to love it. Oh, how did you feel about math? Oh, I love math. It’s so interesting and challenging. So but you know, there are deficits. There are… math is an area where you can really see, you know, when it’s not practiced, you can really notice it, but you know, it’s it just doesn’t, it’s just not in the same realm as the mental health stuff. You know, but there’s so much pressure from the narratives. Listen carefully, please. There’s so much pressure from the narratives in culture and society around the things we are supposed to do, like, for example, go to college in this world. So really questioning the narrative in the first place.

Debbie Reber  27:21

Yeah, and you know, one of the things that we are in total alignment, and in that you talked about, I think, in the very first time you were on my show, you’ve always talked about this idea of zooming out, just always be zooming out and thinking about what are we doing here anyway. And so that’s just such a good reminder, we are raising adults, we are raising humans, I mean, want to know who they are, and understand how to create the life that they want and what they need to do to do that. So this is another opportunity to get curious about that to notice our own fears, timeline driven fears and what we’re making it mean if our child is behind or lagging.

Seth Perler  28:04

What we’re making it mean. These are…your semantics are very careful, and I love it.

Debbie Reber  28:10

Well, you’re catching me on a good day.

Debbie Reber  28:17

And now a brief word from our sponsor. Kids with lagging executive functions struggle with the skills our brains need for focus homework, getting started organization planning, being on time not getting distracted, remembering details, prioritizing important things, being responsible, managing overwhelm or emotions and more. But how do you help when these complex skills are lagging or when a child resists help take three days to completely immerse yourself in leading experts strategies to help your child navigate school and life through better executive function. TEFOS, The Executive Function Online Summit, runs August 20 through the 22nd. And it’s completely free. Get exceptional strategies from experts who get outside the box kids and executive function. Go to to learn more and register that’s And now back to the show.

Debbie Reber  29:21

Well, so I mean, these are such good things to be thinking about. And we are having somewhat of a theoretical conversation or philosophical conversation, I acknowledge that Seth and I can go deep. We’re talking about our own deep inner work as well. But let’s pivot and talk about some practical considerations. You know, your focus and the work that you’re so brilliant at involves executive function and supporting kids with lagging executive function skills. Are there any specific things for this back to school season that you think would be especially important for us to keep in mind?

Seth Perler  29:57

Yeah, so as we alluded to, do the mental health stuff. I mean, everybody’s just gonna be on edge. You can even think of it that way this year. It’s just everybody. There’s just again, like a texture of anxiety in that it feels very unsafe. And what that means is that your nervous system, your child’s nervous system, there’s just a heightened anxiety. It’s kind of like I True story. I came home last night, and I saw the biggest spider and I love insects. I love tarantulas. I’m a pet person. And I’m, this was the biggest spider in a house I’ve ever seen in my life. So, yeah. So I did whatever I did with that spider. But going to bed that night, my nervous system was aware that there might be a giant spider crawling on me, and biting me with its fangs and ending my life now that is overblown. That’s actually a really good example of sometimes what happens when our thoughts can get mounted on wheels. But needless to say, my nervous system was aware throughout the night, I can’t see if I feel anything weird, you know, if it’s the sheep grazing my face, if it’s hair from my head, grazing my butt, you know, like, my nervous systems, like, what’s that? You know, our kids are going back into a situation where everybody’s just kind of, there’s just a little bump in the collective world nervous system right now. And in some places on Earth right now. There’s massive, you know, massive bumps. I mean, there are places on Earth right now with just huge populations of people getting sick right now, and so on and so forth. So, reel me back in … where we were going with this?

Debbie Reber  31:57

Yeah. So bearing that in mind, then knowing that this is the environment our kids are walking into? How can we kind of practically prepare them? How can we support whether it’s executive function or…

Seth Perler  32:12

Really long story, you all get that you listeners get that at no extra charge? Okay. But where I was headed with that is just to know that and know that there are going to be days when your kid is having an equally bad day, they do. They really are, they just are there’s no gas in the tank to do four hours of homework, or one hour of homework or five minutes of homework. There just isn’t. And what I want to encourage people to do is to go to admin as a group with multiple parents, not and just parents were, you’re all on the same page about look, we’re just looking at for kids, I don’t care what your COVID beliefs or mass beliefs or political beliefs are just for our kids. Let’s go as a group, and we need to tell the admin, please, please, please. And this goes back to what you and I talked about a year ago, when it comes to homework administrators, please tell your teachers less is more. Remember, when we talked about less is more classroom, please be aware that workers are going to have bad days, please talk to your teachers because you’re the leader of the school, about not wasting our kids time and energy, looking for details on these portals, which are freaking insane. And I have kids that have to go to three or four portals to figure stuff out. Tell your teachers please, to update their grades on Fridays or Wednesdays. I don’t care. Or once a week or daily, I don’t care what it is. Get. So I’m saying to the parents, because it’s mostly parents listening, but have a group of you come together and tell the principal’s please stop the insanity with all of the chaos with the online stuff, get your staff, you’re the leader, get your staff on the same page about how to communicate because you’ve got teachers who are awesome. They have every detail that PDFs they updated the grades in a reasonable amount of time. They have reasonable late policies or whatever the thing is, then you have teachers who you can’t even I can’t even figure out because I work a lot of students what the heck they’re expecting. So first thing I want to say and then that goes back to where I started the mental health stuff. Everybody’s on edge. luck, please stop wasting our time. Get it together, get it together. I’m just so annoyed by kids wasting time. These are kids who struggle anyway. And they’re spending half an hour trying to figure out what the heck they need to do. So the word I use is coherence. Go tell your admin to get coherence. And then less tell them less is more on the homework. Just because your teachers are giving homework doesn’t mean kids are learning more. Every teachers have awesome learning experiences and look to tell the principal’s to look we don’t really care about common core and all these standards and all these textbooks and dotting all the I’m crossing all the T’s, tell your teachers to inspire their students tell them that this year, you’re not going to evaluate them on their SMART goals in their data, tell them that you’re going to evaluate them on how many kids walk out of their class smiling this year, saying I learned something cool. Anyhow, um, so is there anything you want to add to that? Before I bring in the super practical?

Debbie Reber  35:21

Just, yeah, I hear you. And that’s my hope, that the administration is going to come back to school and focus on these things. I worry about the pressures of testing, standardized testing, and you know, just all of the things. And so I do hope that there’s not a push to kind of go back and not consider what’s actually happening right now and what our kids have been through.

Seth Perler  35:46

And I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens and that’s why I said go to them as a group of people who have parents who are on the same page, because they’re not going to respond. They’re they’re gonna, there’s this narcissism that happens in schools, where it’s like, oh, you’re the parent, you’re crazy. You don’t have a valid voice. You know, you’re a helicopter parent, you know, there’s this prenton Yeah. So you need to be with other people and be like, we’re not crazy. Our mental, the mental health of our kids comes before everything, you know, you have to ask the power in numbers with this stuff, I think. So the next thing is, particularly Debbie, with our kids who struggle, particularly with the kids that struggle, but this is probably good for all kids. You know, if you really, really, really want to support their executive function, if you can, as soon as possible before school starts if possible, downsize, declutter, minimize, there are three types of downsizing and decluttering, I want you to consider the first the most concrete is the physical decluttering, like help your kid get rid of all their old clothes, all their old books, all their old toys, all their old anything that they do not need it, the more stuff you’re good as the Manage, the less manageable their life is going to be, the harder it’s going to be, the more stuff there is. And the less stuff there is, the easier it’s going to be for it. So for kids who struggle with executive function, having less stuff, they’re trying to learn how to organize life, I mean, they’re gonna have an apartment or a house someday, and maybe a spouse someday, and maybe a family someday, they’re gonna have to organize their life. And they need a manageable amount of stuff to organize. So start with that. And then decluttering, digitally like these kids are on all kinds of lists. And they I have kids with 1000s of unread emails, like help them unsubscribe, help them understand the safety stuff around giving their information out. There and the more digital we get, the more risks there are two people finding their financial information, it blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, to safety, essentially, so downsize digitally with them, help them know how to manage an inbox and how to reply to an email, whatever, but downsize and declutter digitally and then mentally, so downsize and declutter mentally. And what that really means is like getting back to the, you know, the deep inner work, the more we as adults are sort of resolving our old, old baggage and stuff. And we’ve all got it, there’s no shame in it. We’ve all got it, the more but the more we declutter that stuff, the more you know, the more present we are with our kids, and the more they can kind of declutter their minds, from Yeah, I guess cluttered emotions, and that that don’t need to be there because we can work through more stuff. So downsize and declutter, digitally physically and mentally it was my thought on that.

Debbie Reber  38:37

I love that all so much. I am a habitual purger. So you are totally speaking my language and what you’re about to be moving apartments in a few weeks. So I am in a major decluttering phase, but I love that suggestion to do that digitally as well. I mean, that is something that I know, in my household, it’s incredibly overwhelming, the email situation is crazy. And it’s going to require quite a bit of time, but I’m going to do that work now. With my team, and then the mentally, yeah, decluttering mentally, as you were talking about that, I’ve noticed that kids are more open to doing some, you know, whether it’s trying to do a meditation, or whether it’s trying, you know, I have seen this and heard from many parents just that their kids are struggling so much that they’re a little more receptive, or maybe open to trying something because they’re like, Well, you know, what do I have to lose at this point? And so, you may have given me this language, this idea of saying, Would you be willing to try that is language I’m using a lot right now. Would you be willing to try this? Would you be willing to do this class on well being with me, would you be willing to and you know, asking our kids what they’re, if they’re up for something and trying to introduce little habits or strategies or tools to help them declutter mentally because I do think that they, many of them are craving that right now.

Seth Perler  40:06

I think there’s so much research now that we understand that a lot of us have had trauma. And there’s big T trauma and little t trauma and people misperceive that if you have trauma, that means that you were in a war you’re burglarized violently or something like this. And while there’s little t trauma that so many of us have had in so many adults have gone and sought help and found, oh, help actually helps these people have been trained to do things that help us. And, you know, people have really learned ways to heal stuff that. So thank goodness, I think there’s a lot less of the stigma of, oh, if I ask for help, that means I’m broken, or something’s wrong, or we do not ask for help, and my family and I will never do you know, that has changed a lot. Thank goodness for our kids sake. Absolutely. So after we declutter and stuff, then we need to organize. And I’ll keep it brief. But in organizing, like our kids who struggle with executive function, their minds just, you can just think that their minds are not built for organizing, unless it’s something that’s of high interest to them, then you might see incredible organization, but we’re not worried about that. We’re worried about what they’re struggling to execute on. That is important for them to do that they don’t want to do. So helping them to organize things have homes for things, label things, visual, visual, visual, visualize your help, you can help them organize their inboxes you can help them create labels, which they may have never done, you may have never done, you can help them organize, you know, their drawers literally by putting a photograph or drawing or an icon or word of what goes in that drawer. And just simplifying. And I’m not saying detail organization, I’m saying very like I was just talking with another person the other day in this field, but like the box or school supplies doesn’t have to be organized with like paperclips and pencils, and but just school supplies big catch all so for these kiddos just hit in some broad categories are electronics and cables a box for that stuff. box for socks, a box for shoes, you know, they don’t have to be lined up on the ground, they can be just thrown in a box messy, that is good enough, these kids need to start developing these habits of this is my inbox for my homework. This is where my keys in my wallet and my school I’d go every day, there’s a little box by the door, you know, and but label, label, label, color visual. And same with routines you can. That’s another thing you can think of is organizing with routines post them make visual… visuals for everything. So now you think cluttered. Now organize things in a way that is way more visual than you would think would be necessary. Because it matters and it helps then organizing, you have to organize the browser, depending on your kid’s age. And then parents, you can do it for them with them. Or they can do it on their own. But you have to organize the browser, get the bookmarks set up, get the class, the teachers website set up, get the passwords set up, you, I’m going to use a shutter Hey, you should never have to save your kid, hey, what’s the password to that and your kid says I don’t know, you should know where that is, your kid should know where that is, you should have some system of finding this stuff. Because I’ve been doing this a long time. What I see is I see a kid, they’ll start working with me and like Alright, and let’s say they start working with me in November. And I’m like, Alright, let’s look at your portal for history class. No, like, I don’t know my password. They haven’t looked at their portal, the whole school year. How’s that possible, you know, get your stuff together, get the browser organized, Google, Chrome or whatever and the documents and blah, blah, blah, the calendars. Front Load the calendar, if you’re using Google Calendar front, load that with your kid. So the calendars, the bookmarks for the teacher pages, the bookmarks for the portals, and the passwords are the basics, get the browser set up sanely. And that’s it. That’s all I got for you —  organize, visually organize the browser, downsize, go to the admin and get people on the same page coherence advocate with the teachers for clarity. and be patient with them, scaffold. Ask yourself if the expectation of executive function is even realistic in the first place. And if you’re a super driven, organized person, you’re going to have to really understand that your kid’s brain doesn’t work like that. So really take more time with that question than you would for yourself and expect problems but look for the opportunities in this and then the commitment to stretching yourself and working on your own stuff. And then we go back to what we started with Debbie to remember what the first one was.

Debbie Reber  44:55

I do it was love. Yeah. Yeah. That’s an action. Yes. Um, With so much good good stuff in there, I look at my piece of paper here. you guys can see this, but I have notes everywhere because I, I always take notes when I talk to Seth, I learned so much, even knowing a lot about this. Your ideas are so, so good and clear and helpful. So thank you for that. So I have one question I want to ask you before we say goodbye. And that is, what should our message to kids be? If you could get inside the home of a family raising a differently wired kid and we’re about to go back to school? What would you want to encourage parents to share with their kids as they go back to school?

Seth Perler  45:43

You know, I, I don’t it’s gonna shock you. But I don’t have a message. Even though I have a million messages. I think more than the message for me, I think it’s kind of the way we deliver the message. So each family has different messages, I would say get clear on your messages and use them all the time. My dad used to say, you know, I almost failed out of high school, I failed out of college and blah, blah, I just failed a lot of stuff. And my dad would say to me, you are not your grades, I remember that to this very day. That was a message that he would tell me you are not your grades, my dad used to tell me a journey of 1000 miles begins with one step. I use that all the time with my kids talking about baby steps, and how to you know, do this executive function stuff when it feels overwhelming. So whatever your messages are, you know, that resonate with you, figure them out, maybe make a list and maybe even present your cue with that list in a ceremony sometime be like, hey, I want to tell you some main things I hope you carry in your life that I have learned about life. So whatever your messages are, great figure, you know, but use them a lot. Like they’ll land even if they don’t seem like they’re landing, just keep using them. Like if you get in an argument, kid, maybe your messages, hey, I’m so sorry, I did that. But I want you to know that I love you, no matter what I ever say or how my temper is, I love you. And I’m here for you. And I will make mistakes. But I will come back to you. I will apologize. And I want to hear you. Now what I said was it’s how we say the message. And what I really think, I guess to answer your question, how I want kids to receive these messages is with parents that have a grounded, regulated nervous system or nervous system that’s working towards that. In other words, it’s not so much about the message, but it’s that we’ve worked on ourselves. And we try, we show through modeling and through our nervous system, that we are a safe, grounded human being that they can come to, and they can tell us anything, they can tell us anything, and we will listen. And we will be patient. And we will not lecture and use rationalizing and try to get them to see the light and reason with them. And we will not invalidate their feelings and say, Oh, you shouldn’t feel this way. Or you shouldn’t think that, or you shouldn’t whatever. But we will say with curiosity. Wow. Tell me more. Who are you? What’s that about? How can I be helpful? Rather than that’s not the right way. That’s not what I think, that’s not how I grew up that you know, but where we can come with that. So I think that what kids need this fall is to be heard, to be seen, to be validated, to be understood. You don’t have to agree with them. But for them to know that they can come to you with anything, then you’re really onto something.

Debbie Reber  48:40

What a great note to end this conversation on. Thank you. So before we sign off, you want to take a minute and tell listeners where they can find you and talk about TEFOS. The upcoming TEFOS, which will be in just a week or two.

Seth Perler  48:55

Yeah, sure. If you want to find me online, I have a site called, I have a bunch of freebies, for parents and teachers. And you can sign up for the weekly blog, I put out a weekly vault blog on YouTube, I bet you sign up on the site, and you can subscribe on YouTube, you can find me on YouTube, I have so many resources, I tried to be really in depth whenever I create content. And I’m an amazing audience as to you. By the way. I also want to say parents and teachers and everybody who’s here listening, I just want to commend you just for your doing stuff to to help kids and just thank you. Thank you. Kids need you. Um, TEFOS, The Executive Function Online Summit. If you go to is my summit and we are going to be airing August 20. And there are three days of experts that you know people come usually because they’re concerned about their kid who has executive function challenges and they’re concerned about their behavior or their grades or this or that, but then there’s sort of a bit Switch because people come and they find out Oh, it’s about the nervous system and relationships and all this stuff. So if you love Debbie’s work and you know her tilt on things, you might like TEFOS. It is a fantastic experience.

Debbie Reber  50:13

It is a fantastic, very generous event. And yeah, listeners definitely go check that out, go check out Seth’s website, if you’re not on his…

Seth Perler  50:20

It’s a free event for three days, I want you to immerse yourself for three days. If you want to buy the recordings and the bonuses, you can do that. But you can come for free.

Debbie Reber  50:29

Yes. And yeah, go check out his website too, because his blogs are great. There’s just a lot of amazing resources on there. That is very in depth and generous. So, Seth, as always, it has just been a pleasure to chat with you. And thank you so much for just everything you share. And yeah, we’ll have to connect again and do a debrief from midway through the year and see how things are going and see how the re-entry was. But thank you for everything you shared today.

Seth Perler  50:58

Thanks, Debbie. And go out there and connect with your kid today.

Debbie Reber  51:04

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