Nine Keys to Help Your Student “Check” His School Work & Not “Drop the Ball”

lacrosseIn lacrosse, “checking” is a key part of the game.  Checking your opponent is a strategy used to either stop their movement toward the goal or as an attempt to get them to drop the ball. There are specific guidelines to checking and proper checking is extremely important.  When completing school work, checking is also critical to your success.  In contrast to lacrosse, checking school work before turning it in keeps your student from “dropping the ball” and helps him continue moving forward toward his academic goals. 

Many students with executive functioning problems often rush through their school work and forget to check it before they turn it in.  They often have trouble with “self-monitoring” or the ability to think about their thinking and self-evaluate.   For those students who struggle with self-monitoring, a checklist designed to catch their errors can be quite helpful.  Here’s how to make one.

Self-monitoring is tough for everyone!  It involves the ability to ask, “How am I doing?” or “How did I do?” and then make adjustments to your actions as needed.

  • Self-monitoring involves the ability to observe how you perform a task and how you problem-solve.
  • Self-monitoring involves slowing down and changing how you do things: not always an easy task for some of us who struggle with certain executive skills.

This can be especially difficult for students who struggle with executive functions and just want to get their work done and get on with life.  Since checking her work is critical to your student’s success, help her try these suggestions.


  1. First, either download the blank Self-Monitoring Checklist or make your own.
  2. Next, empathize with your student, by saying, “Whew! These careless errors on your school work and tests are just killing your grades! Let’s see how we might solve this problem together!”
  3. Explain to your student that everyone has to use checklists at some time in their lives.  If you use a similar type checklist, tell her about it.
  4. Next, go through previous assignments and tests looking for common careless errors due to rushing.
  5. Have your student make a draft list of these common errors. If he or she makes this list this increases the likelihood of ownership.
  6. Next, have your student put together a final self-monitoring checklist in an order that make sense to her.  The more control as you can give her in the process, the more likely she’ll actually use the list.
  7. Next, have her draw pictures or decorate her list so that she makes it her own.
  8. Finally, check in with her on a regular basis to see what’s working and what’s not working: if it’s not working try to problem-solve why.
  9. Some students may need an external incentive for checking their work: try suggestions in previous posts.


Over time, your student will start to automatically check her work without the list: when she does, it’s time to either phase-out the list or make a new one based on new challenges. 


(c) 2010-2014, Monte W. Davenport, Ph.D.

Need help applying this concept?  Call us at 817.421.8780 to make an appointment.