Neuropsychologist Dr. Steven Greco Addresses RCDS Parents
Neuropsychologist Dr. Steven Greco happily extended his 60-minute executive functioning presentation at The Rumson Country Day School to accommodate an extensive Q&A with about a hundred captivated parents. Hosted by the RCDS Parent Council, Dr. Greco’s visit as a guest speaker on Friday, January 19 opened a forum for parents to discuss the importance of executive functioning skills and learn strategies to instill them in children.
“Executive functioning skills, such as planning, organizing, problem solving, emotional and behavioral self-control, initiation, etc. are habits that will serve the child throughout a lifetime,” said Dr. Greco. “This lecture was a great opportunity for parents to learn about executive functioning, express their concerns, hear the opinions of other parents and receive some tangible recommendations to help children with executive abilities.”
Dr. Greco elaborated on a number of specific tools to foster executive skills like planning ahead, morning routines, making checklists and encouraging emotional regulation and mindfulness. Hands consistently shot up in the air as eager parents in the audience sought answers to burning questions. Dr. Greco took the time to address each inquiry thoroughly with patience and professionalism.
“Dr. Greco is personable and down to earth with just enough self-deprecation to help us know that we are ‘all human’ in the process of raising children,” observed Parent Council President and mother of two Maryann Baret.
In addition to his parent seminar, Dr. Greco presented to the RCDS faculty earlier this fall. RCDS’s Director of Student Services Natalie Diehl later addressed her colleagues at a two-day professional development session to support Dr. Greco’s presentation and share her personal expertise. Mrs. Diehl earned a master’s degree as a Learning Disabilities Teacher-Consultant and is passionate about discovering new ways to continue to incorporate executive functioning into the curriculum at RCDS.
“Education is key,” Mrs. Diehl explained. “The more we learn about how children naturally develop and function, the better we can understand their development and promote positive behaviors and success. RCDS has always tended to the needs of the whole child. Our educators have created growth-promoting environments in their classrooms that provide children with scaffolding that helps them practice necessary executive skills. Teachers establish routines and model behaviors that help students function productively every day. They post tasks and learning targets on the board, help students recall and follow multistep directions, plan, organize and self-monitor.”
RCDS begins nurturing these skills as early as nursery school through the Tools of the Mind instructional approach that teaches children how to become masters of their own mental tools and become successful learners. Lower School teachers enforce a daily planner system beginning in 3rd grade. In the 6th grade, students take an Executive Function course where they are explicitly taught note and test taking strategies, organization skills for home and school and how to prioritize tasks. In Upper School, RCDS’s Advisory Program focuses on promoting personal accountability and goal-setting, allowing students time to plan, prioritize, organize and juggle multiple tasks successfully.
Dr. Greco and Mrs. Diehl highly recommend collaboration between parents and educators to effectively cultivate executive functioning skills.
“Children learn best when information can be reinforced by several sources,” stressed Dr. Greco.
“We are very fortunate to be in an environment where faculty members take pride in supporting parents through these steps in life,” added Maryann Baret.
RCDS and its Parent Council will continue to provide keynote speaker events throughout the year to extend both professional development and parent education opportunities.
ABOUT THE RUMSON COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL:
The Rumson Country Day School (rcds.org) is a not-for-profit, independent, non-sectarian, coeducational school specializing in nursery through grade eight, with a 2017-2018 enrollment of 400+ students. The school enrolls students who work in small classes with superior programs in academics, athletics and the arts. With a student/teacher ratio of 7:1 and an average class size of 15, students are guided by a family of mentors who recognize strengths, nurture skills and empower confident children to be curious about the world around them. RCDS offers half-day and extended day Nursery and Pre-K programs and a full-day Kindergarten. RCDS has been recognized as a “Blue Ribbon School of Excellence” by the U. S. Department of Education since 1999.