Keeping It Together: Teaching Kids To Keep A Planner
By Jennifer Cummings
Students today are busier than ever before. Between school, work, volunteering, friends, and lessons, most kids have schedules that rival the busiest business CEO’s! Unfortunately, as life goes on, schedules only get tighter, not easier, so helping your child learn to be organized from a young age is a vital life skill that can really help them in high school, college, and in the work place!
Late elementary school or early middle school is a great time to start kids keeping a daily agenda. Many schools or PTO’s have begun funding paper agenda books for students each year. Even your child’s school is not one of those, however, student planners can be found at most department stores, office supplies stores, or discount retailers. Whichever planner your child has access to, the most important thing you can do is make sure your child uses it regularly. Teachers in middle school often give specific lessons to students in how to keep an accurate agenda book, but there are lots of ways you can help at home, too.
Here are some great action steps you can take that will make it easier for your child to keep on track:
- Sit down with your child and teach them what a planner is used for. Many kids don’t see planners as something they need to be worried about, so they never really pay attention to how all of that important information gets onto the family calendar each month!
- At the end of each month, sit with your child and have them fill in all of the known classes, activities, and obligations they have for the next month. That will help to get them in the habit of looking ahead to know their schedule and what projects are coming up.
- If your child has a long-term project due at school (such as a book report, research project, or science fair expo) sit down with them right when you receive the directions and plan which parts of the project your child should have completed each week. That will help you by reducing stress and will help your child by teaching them how to break a project down into manageable parts.
- Some teachers ask parents to sign planners each night or each week. Regardless of it is required or not, check in your child’s planner regularly to see if they are writing important information such as homework assignments, projects, and other information.
- Some kids will try to use an electronic organizer in their phone or computer. While those tools are great for adults and college students who are used to using planners to guide their lives, kids will often spend more time texting or emailing friends than being organized. Once your child gets the process of keeping a personal agenda, the format doesn’t matter, and they can switch to an electronic version if they want later.
It will take some time for your child to regularly remember to keep their agenda up-to-date and use it to help keep them organized. By taking the time to actively sit with them and go through the process of how to do it right, you not only will be up-to-date on what’s going on in their school life, but you will be teaching them a valuable skill that will help them be organized, independent workers all throughout life!
"I believe that families' involvement in their child's education is one of the key ingredients to creating a successful school experience for children. Keeping parents informed about school-related issues helps parents and teachers work together for the best possible outcomes for their children. Learning together makes learning fun - for everyone!" - Jennifer Cummings.
Her publications: Tips from the Teacher provides useful hints and "tricks of the trade" that you can use at home to boost your child's academic progress year after year. And Homelinks Teacher Tools for Communicating with Parents New Skills Strategies, Newsletters and Home Communication Tools for Teachers(grades 2-8)
More Child Education Resources:
US Dept. of Education
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