How to Teach Your Child to Use a Planner
Does your child really need to use a planner? Isn't his life pretty simple? Not really. If you've looked at your child's homework lately or driven them around town for the multiple activities they all seem to do, you'll soon realize that kids need just as much help with time management as their parents. Besides being a great skill right now, the planner habit sets your child up for success in the future.
Schools Believe in Planners
School districts across the United States have begun issuing planners to students. They are teaching kids to use the planner as part of the curriculum. Many schools distribute a sturdy spiral bound notebook with spaces to write homework assignments and plan for long term, multi-step projects. They include study tips and may be customized with the school's mascot. By the time kids get to high school, they're using PDAs.
Some tips for planner selection:
- Get a fun planner. If there's no standard issue at school, try to find one to match his personality. Leather-bound business planners won't cut it. Look for something light, colorful, and with a design kids like.
- Look for ease of use and durability. Think plastic covers, page finders and flat-fold spiral binding. Built-in paper pockets are nice for organizing homework, permission slips and notes from the teacher. Make sure it fits easily into a backpack.
Got the Planner - Now What?
Any tool is only going to work if it's used properly. How do you teach a 7-year-old child to use a planner? Try these tips to teach kids the planner habit:
Teach the basics:
- Enter all dates, assignments and activities in the planner (just one!).
- Keep your planner with you at all times.
- Check your planner in the morning and before school's out.
- Break goals/assignments into action steps.
It can help if the teacher is on your side. A quick reminder to ‘write that down' will help to establish the planner habit. Most teachers will be more than happy to assist in developing any method that improves student organization.
Planner use is a habit. It's not going to happen overnight, but must be established over time. Start with baby steps. Establish a single planner function such as writing down homework each day, or checking a chore list. Once this has become routine (maybe after three or four weeks of daily reinforcement), then add something new.
Make it a fun time for the two of you to sit down together and in the evening to review the next day. Encourage your child to check the planner before beginning the day's homework. Then before bed, do a final planner check.
Remember that kids don't really get the benefits of planner use at first. For them, writing down every birthday party, baseball practice and school assignment is just another chore. However, they soon come to appreciate the security of having all their homework, chores and activities in one place. You may want to reward the planner habit with stickers or treats. You also may want to get the whole family in on the planning. Have family calendar meetings where everybody updates his or her personal planner. Kids love to be just like their parents!