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Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary 'Executive Skills' Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential

by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare Guilford Publications
Pub Date:
Pbk 314 pages
AU$43.99 NZ$46.08
Product Status: Out of stock. Not available to order.
Available as eBook
AU$44.99 | NZ$52.60

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Scientists who study child development have recently found that kids who are ''smart but scattered'' lack or lag behind in crucial executive skills—the core, brain-based habits of mind required to “execute” tasks like getting organized, staying focused, and controlling emotions. Drawing on this revolutionary discovery, school psychologist Peg Dawson and neuropsychologist Richard Guare have developed an innovative program that parents and teachers can use to strengthen kids’ abilities to plan ahead, be efficient, follow through, and get things done. Smart but Scattered provides ways to assess children’s strengths and weaknesses and offers guidance on day-to-day issues like following instructions in the classroom, doing homework, completing chores, reducing performance anxiety, and staying cool under pressure. Small steps add up to big improvements, enabling these kids to build the skills they need to live up to their full potential. More than 40 reproducibles are included.

The Publisher grants individual book purchasers nonassignable permission to reproduce selected materials in this book for professional use. For details and limitations, see copyright page.

-Executive skills are a hot topic: the authors’ professional book has over 25,000 in print.
-Practical, doable, and concise: arms parents and
teachers with needed information and easy-to-use tools.
-Positive approach shows parents why children fail in areas where they “should” succeed—and exactly how to help.
-Research-based, real-world interventions from two recognized experts in the field.

AUDIENCEParents of 4- to 14-year-olds; also of interest to teachers, school psychologists, and other mental health professionals who work with children. The approach is suitable for children with ADHD or learning disabilities as well as those without a clinical diagnosis.

''Filled with real-world examples and real-world solutions, this easy-to-read book is the first comprehensive guide to the management of children's executive skills. It gets to the heart of the matter, offering both parents and teachers accessible and highly efficient means to cope with a gamut of obstacles faced by children of all ages and abilities.''/m-/Kristina Mecelicaite, MEd, special education coordinator, North Central Charter Essential School, Fitchburg, MA

''The best parent resource on executive skills that I have seen. As a parent of three children, one of whom has learning disabilities, and as a special education associate who works in the classroom, I highly recommend this book. It shows there is hope for kids who are struggling, and offers practical, detailed advice.''Linda Libbey, parent, Hampton, New Hampshire

''Two of my kids, when asked to clean their bedrooms, react entirely differently. One completes the task quickly and efficiently, in an organized fashion. The other doesn't know where to start, feels overwhelmed, and fails to make much headway with the mess. The difference is executive skills! I am very excited about the approach in this book, which is helping me work with my daughter to build these crucial abilities./Linda Libbey, parent, Hampton, New Hampshire


I. What Makes Your Child Smart But Scattered

1. How Did Such a Smart Kid End Up So Scattered?

2. Identifying Your Child's Strengths and Weaknesses

3. How Your Own Executive Strengths and Weaknesses Matter

4. Matching the Child to the Task

II. Laying a Foundation That Can Help

5. Ten Principles for Improving Your Child's Executive Skills

6. Modifying the Environment: A Is for Antecedent

7. Teaching Executive Skills Directly: B Is for Behavior

8. Motivating Your Child to Learn and Use Executive Skills: C Is for Consequence

III. Putting It All Together

9. Advance Organizer

10. Ready-Made Plans for Teaching Your Child to Complete Daily Routines

11. Building Response Inhibition

12. Enhancing Working Memory

13. Improving Emotional Control

14. Strengthening Sustained Attention

15. Teaching Task Initiation

16. Promoting Planning and Prioritizing

17. Fostering Organization

18. Instilling Time Management

19. Encouraging Flexibility

20. Increasing Goal-Directed Persistence

21. Cultivating Metacognition

22. When What You Do Is Not Enough

23. Working with the School

24. What's Ahead?


"The authors provide a satisfying framework for creating environmental supports in areas needed and supplying the hands-on direction necessary for children to function well and build confidence. While Susan Ericksen's distinct and assertive enunciation promotes respect for these ideas, her warmth also makes them sound inviting."
Peg Dawson, EdD, is a staff psychologist at the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Dr. Dawson is a past president of both the National Association of School Psychologists and the International School Psychology Association. She is a recipient of the National Association of School Psychologists' Lifetime Achievement Award.

Richard Guare, PhD, a neuropsychologist, is Director of the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders. His research and publications focus on understanding and treatment of learning and attention difficulties and neurological disorders. Board certified as a behavior analyst, Dr. Guare frequently consults to schools and agencies.

Drs. Dawson and Guare have over 30 years of experience working with children with learning, attention, and behavior difficulties. Together, they are the authors of Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, a practical guide for school professionals.