Task initiation is one of the brain’s cognitive executive functions, and it describes the ability to begin projects, assignments, and tasks without procrastination. Students with the skill of task initiation are self-starters who begin assignments and projects promptly, allowing themselves enough time to finish. They usually have a plan of action for test preparation and projects and break down tasks into manageable pieces. When stuck, they can brainstorm ideas and develop solutions. They begin assignments without prompting from others and stay on track.
Students who have not yet developed skills for task initiation have difficulty starting a task or project without being asked and get off track quickly. They often struggle to come up with new ideas or ways to solve problems. When given large assignments or projects, they cannot break them down into manageable pieces and often fail to start.
Goals to work towards for task initiation development may include:
Teaching students strategies to reduce procrastination is essential when working towards these goals for task initiation, and it is especially helpful to model those strategies in relevant situations. Students who struggle in this area would also benefit from help in developing steps to solve problems since they often want to use one solution, whether it is working well or not. Sometimes students have a difficult time knowing when it is time to start, and creating and using cues to indicate starting times would be helpful. And finally, rewarding students as they progress towards task completion is another important opportunity to teach how to follow through after they get started.
Task initiation’s impact on a student’s ability to learn and succeed is profound, and providing students with the strategies to practice task initiation will give lasting benefits.