What is Self Management For Students

by | May 23, 2024

So what is self management? Self management is a general term that encompasses a multitude of different aspects. Self management falls under the umbrella term of executive functioning that is learned in middle school. While self management is best learned early on in a student’s development, many students struggle with self management long after middle and even high school. But that doesn’t really answer the question does it? Well to fully understand what exactly self management is, we need to understand what executive functioning is and all of it’s parts.

What is Executive Functioning?

As briefly mentioned before, executive functioning is a set of skills that are taught early on in a child’s development. Generally, these skills are apart of a student’s middle school curriculum. These skills encompass things like preparation, organization, self control, and more.  Each school has a different approach to executive functioning. With our in-person private school: The Tenney School, we incorporate executive functioning into a student’s homeroom time. Because students spend a third of their day in homeroom at our school, we utilize this time for instructional periods of executive functioning. This is in the form of binder checks, locker checks, planner checks, etc. The goal of our program and ultimately, executive functioning, is to teach students how to self manage themselves. Fostering a sense of independence and pride in one’s ability to ‘take care of things themselves is an important cornerstone of the program.

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What is Self Management?

For students, self management isn’t much different than executive functioning. In fact self management refers to many of the same executive functioning skills as previously mentioned. Self management skills are often defined through an academic lens, and can be broken down two major categories:


Student organization encompasses a swathe of different factors. These include factors like:

  • Time management
  • Use of planner
  • Locker organization
  • Goal management

Each of these factors plays a major role in a student’s ability to succeed in an academic setting. Many students who lack self management skills, will begin to see issues at school starting in late middle school. Grades are often the first sign that a student is lacking in organization. Are they forgetting due dates for assignments? Are they preparing for an upcoming test? These types of questions, when answered correctly by the student, indicate they fulfill the organization aspect of self management.


The next half of self management relates to a students ability to foster independence for themselves. With independence, students need to be driven to want it. Reliance is a difficult thing to break, especially for the student who doesn’t want be be independent. So what factors are apart of a students desire for independence? These factors are:

  • Learning from failure
  • Motivation

There’s different ways to go about fostering a desire for independence in a child. While options such as the school type are drastic changes that not all families can accommodate, others can also be considered. oakmeadow.com suggests the following:

Moments of struggle or perceived failure offer opportunities for real learning. Don’t correct them right away. It is important to allow this and to guide your child toward understanding rather than ending the struggle by supplying the answer.

Learning from failure is another important part of fostering independence in a student. What’s the student’s reaction when the fail? Do they get upset? Are they motivated to continue on? A student who can learn from failure, has the ability to pick themselves up when they’re down. This is an incredibly important life skill to learn which carries with them for the rest of their life.

The final aspect of independence that I want to discuss is motivation. Motivation is such a simple concept, but difficult thing to handle each and every day. A student who is able to stay motivated during the school year, is a student who will succeed indefinitely in their studies. Motivation is what produces consistent results that continue to improve each and every time they’re tested. Unfortunately, motivation is one of the easiest aspects to achieve on a daily basis. Rewarding students for completing assignments or getting good grades is a good first step. Indeed.com had an interesting definition for their theory of motivation:

The incentive theory of motivation is a behavioral theory that suggests people are motivated by a drive for incentives and reinforcement. The incentive theory also proposes that people behave in a way they believe will result in a reward and avoid actions that may entail punishment.

While I agree with this definition to some degree, motivation from fear is not always the best route to go. There should be consequences for actions, but the student shouldn’t actively fear the academic system. That ends up breeding new issues further along. Instead focusing on the reward aspect is a great way to incentivize student independence.


The importance of self management can’t be understated. Self management is essential for not just a student’s success in school, but also in life after it. Many of the concepts discussed will go on to assist students in college, their job, their family, and more. These are important life skills that can’t be overlooked. (especially while the student is in their younger years) This is by no means a definitive list of things either. Please experiment with different rewards, theories, and solutions in your home. Every student is different and works best under different conditions. I’d love to hear what works for you, so please leave a comment with your own ways that helped with garnering self management in your student!

And on that note: do you need help with self management or executive functioning? Check out our executive functioning tutors for help in any of the areas we discussed!


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