Coaching in any form is a powerful tool for students struggling with executive functioning challenges. Families who’ve only used traditional on-site educational services like tutoring or academic coaching might not be familiar with the benefits that virtual support can offer. If you’re just starting to explore academic coaching, ADHD coaching or other executive functioning support for your student, rest assured that going with a virtual academic coach provides the same, if not better, outcomes as on-site coaches.
One study comparing virtual and face-to-face tutoring for students with learning disabilities found that a majority of students preferred online support. It also suggested that online tutoring could actually be more effective for students with learning difficulties, noting “there was a nonsignificant tendency for students with disabilities to achieve a lower pass rate than students without disabilities with face-to-face tutorial support, whereas with online tutorial support their pass rate was marginally higher than that of students without disabilities.” A 2020 study published in BMC Psychiatry assessing teletherapy for people with ADHD during the pandemic found that there was no difference between in-person and virtual therapy in terms of post-session well-being or a patient’s satisfaction with the services.
At Thrivister Academic Coaching we’ve found that virtual coaching is more effective because of flexibility and comfort. Students are less likely to object to coaching because their coaches meet them where they’re at, where they feel most safe and confident. Virtual coaching also solves the issue of support interruptions due to the pandemic, travel or the need to have transportation.
Flexibility and comfort
Virtual coaching allows students to decide the best time and place for their session. They might be most comfortable in their room, or find the home office less distracting. They could even put their headphones in under a quiet tree in their backyard and have their session there. Familiar surroundings can make students feel safer to open up about some of their challenges. It’s all about what works best for them.
Many students find that virtual sessions interfere less with their busy school and extracurricular commitments. They can work around their class schedules, and don’t have to worry about wasting time traveling to an office or coaching center. Participants in a study on the communication methods of ADHD coaching noted the following benefits for virtual sessions:
- Clients open up more easily because they aren’t in the same room, providing an ‘emotional shield’ for students.
- Potential to work on tangible, organizational strategies: students can show coaches their grades, student portals, digital planners and even go through their assignments together because almost all homework is done online.
- Clients can stick with the same coach as long as they need to—if a student starts out with a coach in high school, they don’t have to worry about finding a new one when they move away to college. This is a significant benefit as the most successful coach-student relationships have a strong foundation of trust and connection, which takes time to develop.
Convenience & avoiding executive functioning obstacles
Some of the many challenges of ADHD include weaknesses with time management and organization. It can be difficult for people with ADHD to get ready for appointments. Gathering belongings, getting dressed, avoiding distractions, and showing up on time can sometimes feel like insurmountable tasks. With virtual coaching, there’s far less preparation time, and no travel time, involved. The barrier of entry is lower altogether! In the study mentioned above, one coach noted that convenience is the biggest benefit to virtual coaching, noting that it’s ‘huge for people with ADHD.’
If you have ADHD or struggle with executive function challenges, you know exactly how overwhelming task initiation can be. When you’re already working to overcome task completion paralysis the last thing you need is more steps to climb.
Additionally, there’s no interruption due to travel or the transition home. This means students can execute on their action plan immediately following the session when their motivation is at its highest. This is critical for someone with EFS weaknesses or ADHD. Motivation and focus can be hard to maintain, so seizing the moment when it’s at its peak is absolutely crucial!
A major concern for many families is how educational services will be impacted by potential pandemic lockdowns. With virtual coaching, you don’t have to worry about sessions being cancelled or rescheduled. And because of previous closures, most students are already accustomed to remote learning.
The fact that many students have been learning entirely (or at least partially) online for the past year and a half means that their assignments, syllabi and even textbooks are online. This makes it even easier for them to share their work with virtual coaches as they develop an action plan. And they don’t have to worry about forgetting to bring their books to a session!
Choosing virtual academic coaching
It’s clear to see that virtual coaching is a solid (if not preferable) option for students in an increasingly-online world. Your student will benefit from:
- Better flexibility to accommodate their school, work and extracurricular schedules
- The comfort of taking their session in familiar surroundings, which can help them open up emotionally and improve coaching outcomes
- Avoiding executive functioning stumbling blocks by not having to get ready to leave the house or worry about forgetting study materials
- The ability to jump into their action plan immediately when their motivation is highest
As a parent, virtual coaching also offers benefits to you. Virtual services are pandemic-proof, and your student’s coach can help alleviate the stress on family relationships by stepping in to help with your child’s academic accountability and success.
Every one of our academic coaches has a psychology and/or education background & expertise, and as an organization we’ve already coached hundreds of happy students through school and on to graduation! You can learn more about how coaching works, or reach out to our team directly with questions.
M.Ed., BCC, CSS and Co-founder of Thrivister
As co-founder of Thrivister, my purpose and passion is to help young adults with executive function challenges to thrive: manage, organize and be successful in their academics, careers and life. My successful EFS Coaching Method and journey as an ADHD coach, career service specialist, author, blogger, podcaster and board-certified coach for over a decade, has laid the foundation for our platform.
We believe opportunities are plentiful for someone with executive function challenges when they have the support and resources behind them. It is our mission through Thrivister to help as many people as possible be successful academically and into their future careers and life.
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