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Happy New Year! Five Resolutions Students Probably Won't Keep... and How Hill Top Can Help!

  1. Use that new planner.
  2. Turn in assignments on time.
  3. Try a new activity.
  4. Prepare for midterms early.
  5. Keep all your resolutions.

We all struggle with New Year's resolutions. In fact, studies show that more than 90% of people abandon their resolutions by year's end. Neurodiverse students are statistically more inclined to struggle with executive functioning, goal setting, and time management. The good news is that understanding these challenges is the superpower for managing them.

Hill Top Preparatory School is a 5th- through 12th-grade independent school right here on the Mainline for students with neurodiverse learning differences, including autism, ADHD, sensory processing, and executive dysfunction. The curriculum is designed to teach students to manage executive functioning challenges in real time with social and emotional programming built into a challenging academic curriculum.

Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. This relationship is exactly why individuals who struggle with executive functioning skills are more challenged to accomplish their New Year's Resolutions.

Take, for example, the common resolution to lose weight. One must successfully implement task initiation, time management, patience, and goal-directed persistence to meet weight goals. Losing weight means you need internal motivation to go to the gym, a fitness class, or on a walk. You also must be able to organize your daily or weekly schedule to incorporate time to work out. You must also practice persistence by continuing your efforts until the goal is completed. This process also takes a significant amount of time to begin to see results, let alone achieve desired goals. Struggling with one or more executive functioning skills makes it significantly more challenging to accomplish this goal.

Starting the second half of the school year, your student may have goals. Below is a summary of the executive function skills that will help them succeed. 

1. Use that new planner.

Utilizing a planner requires students to be adept at organization. This means keeping planners neat and up to date and keeping bookbags safe and organized enough to actually keep track of the planners. 

Hill Top Prep School recognizes how important it is to stay organized as a student and as an individual in the ‘real world.’ The school emphasizes organization by utilizing Google Classroom and implementing what we call ‘Mentor Period.’ In Google Classroom, students can see all their classes and subsequent assignments in one place. During the mentor period, students meet with their assigned mentor and are encouraged to use this supervised time to regroup and organize their schedules, projects, test preparation and extracurricular schedules. Students can also meet with subject teachers, as necessary, for extra assistance. 

2. Prepare for Midterms early.

Preparing for a midterm requires two executive functions - task initiation and metacognition. One must be internally motivated to study independently. Self-awareness and learning how to access to resources helps students identify what they need to succeed, what accommodations are available, and how to access these resources.

Hill Top Prep helps students exercise these executive functions by teaching them:

Self-awareness makes initiating tasks easier because students know which study skills work best for them taking the guesswork out of the equation. Learning about different study skills and how to implement them is built into every class. 

Access to resources teaches students how to advocate for their own needs. Every upper school student meets with teachers to explain what accommodations they require for their tests, midterms and finals and why they need them. Proper access to learning resources creates an environment modeled after post-secondary scenarios to apply in college or at work.

3. Turn in all homework on time.

Turning in assignments on time can be tricky for students who struggle with time management - one of the greatest executive functioning challenges for students and adults alike. The aforementioned work helps combat time management challenges with central places to manage their work and schedules and resources for teacher support. 

4. Try a new activity.

Mental flexibility is the executive function that promotes desires to try something new. Lack of flexibility often prevents the willingness to change schedules to fit new activities in. While structure in life can be positive, extreme rigidity can prevent students from trying things that just do not seem to fit in at the moment.

Hill Top values the importance of new experiences to leaving the comfort zone and growing as a person. Therefore, students are regularly introduced to new experiences through activities that range from team sports to visual and performing arts to international travel opportunities. SEL (Social Emotional Learning) Periods are built into the school day and require students to choose an extracurricular activity with options changing each semester.

5. Keep your resolutions

Keeping New Year’s Resolutions requires goal-directed persistence. Hill Top Prep’s unique curriculum is designed for students to set goals, and often not achieve them. This builds resilience and hones the ability to try again and try better next time. The school provides an environment where it is safe to try and to fail. Students, faculty and staff alike work together every day to pursue goals and dreams. Some days are better than others, but tomorrow always comes and with it, the next opportunity for success.

If your student is struggling in a traditional classroom, Hill Top may be the place for them. Contact our Director of Admissions, and attend one of our open houses this year to learn more. Info below. 

Director of Admissions - Meredith Fitzpatrick

[email protected]

610-527-3230 ext 624

Admissions Open House Dates:

January 25

March 22

April 19


Written by Sarah King. Edited by Amy Gillespie.