Beyond “Lazy and Unmotivated”
Why Parents and Teachers Need to Know about Executive Skills

Peg Dawson

When the conversation turns to executive skills, teachers and parents often say, “We didn’t know anything about these when we were growing up—and we turned out just fine.” In this keynote, Dr. Dawson confronts that sentiment head on. The co-author of Smart but Scattered and other books on executive skills explains the executive skills framework she’s been working with for over 20 years—why it’s a better way to describe struggling students than calling them lazy or unmotivated, and why the more parents and teachers understand about these skills, the better they’ll be able to help students strengthen these important habits of mind. She will paint a picture of the strategies she sees as holding the most promise for helping students of all ages develop, tune up, and master these critical life skills.

Learning Objectives: As a result of this keynote, participants will:

Be able to describe the brain processes involved in executive skill development both in typically developing children and those with executive dysfunction (such as ADHD).

Be able to identify how executive skills impact school performance and daily living.


Peg Dawson, Ed.D., received her doctorate in school/child clinical psychology from the University of Virginia. She worked as a school psychologist for 16 years in Maine and New Hampshire, and, for the past 25 years has worked at the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where she specializes in the assessment of children and adults with learning and attention disorders. Along with her colleague, Dr. Richard Guare, she has authored several books, including two books for professionals, Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention and Coaching Students with Executive Skills Deficits, as well as two books for parents, Smart but Scattered and Smart but Scattered Teens. Their most recent book is a self-help book written for adults, The Smart but Scattered Guide to Success. Dr. Dawson is a past president of both the National Association of School Psychologists and the International School Psychology Association. She is also the 2006 recipient of NASP’s Lifetime Achievement Award and a 2010 recipient of the International School Psychology Association Distinguished Services Award.

Disclosure: Financial – Peg Dawson receives honoraria from TCB and royalties from Guilford Press. Nonfinancial – No relevant relationships to disclose.