by Karen Fried, co-director of The K&M Center
These were the words a former student, Emma, would tell me when she was ready to learn. Because Emma had weak attention, she often got distracted and missed out on directions given in class. When it was time to begin working, she was one of the students who was unsure how to complete the assignment. As a result, Emma would distract others by looking around at their work or by talking to her neighbors, trying to get someone to explain what she had missed.
Students like Emma are often the last to realize they are missing key information in the classroom. The image of a “train off or on the tracks” was used to help her develop strategies to recognize whether she’s available to focus on her teacher’s instruction. Her teachers and parents also used this language to engage Emma and ask her, “Is the train on or off the tracks?” She could then apply this metacognitive strategy (thinking about thinking) and reengage to say, “Yes, the train is on the tracks,” meaning, “I’m ready.”
If you have a child who would benefit from executive functioning or metacognitive help, please feel free to visit our website: The K&M Center.