Students with specific learning disabilities and disabilities of all types may have difficulty with organizational skills. Using a planner can help with those issues and gives parents another good tool to track students' progress in school. You can teach your child how to use this great tool to be a more successful student. Planning:
- Reduces stress;
- Reduces ineffective study habits such as cramming;
- Helps prevent learning disabled students from feeling overwhelmed;
- Increases productivity; and
- Teaches a life skill that will benefit your child now and in the future.
Pick a Planner that Is Right for Your Child
Some schools recommend specific types of planners, and you may want to check on that before buying one. There are different types of commercially made planners available, and your child's teachers can make suggestions on what types might be best for your child's grade and ability levels.
You can also make a planner that is personalized for your student's own needs. You can create a homemade planner using a notebook type calendar with adequate writing space under each day. Whether you make your own planner or use a purchased planner, here are some tips to help your child learn to use it.
Learning to Plan Takes Practice
- Be a good example. Use a planner yourself or for the whole family's activities.
- Make it fun! Have your child practice using the planner by making note of upcoming events such as visits to grandparents, visits to friend's houses, daily chores, and other important activities. Check off items as they are completed;
- If possible, help your child make a habit of checking the planner every day so it will become routine before using it at school. You may need to use a pleasant reminder to help him remember to check the calendar. Make it a family routine. Practice checking how many days are left before a specific activity;
- If you must start using the calendar during school, without time to practice, be prepared to help your child remember to use and check the calendar as part of your daily routine. Some students will have difficulty remembering. Consider developing a behavior plan to reward your child with positive reinforcement for remembering to bring the planner home with an accurate recording of his assignments.
- Have your child make brief journal notes about the day's activities, and go over them at the end of the day. Share details that were not written down and talk about how the notes helped your child remember things he otherwise might have forgotten. After you've done this for about a month, go back to an entry a week old and talk with your child about that day. What can she remember? How did her notes help both of you remember?
- Remember that this is practice, and your child may forget to record something from time to time. When that happens, use it as a positive, teachable moment. Help him plan what needs to catch up on anything that was missed.
When your child has developed the habit of using the planner, it is time to teach her how to determine what tasks are necessary to accomplish a goal. For example, if you're planning to attend soccer practice on Friday, have your child write things on the calendar that must be done before the practice. Examples of things to do in the days before practice might include washing practice clothes, packing a bag with cleats, shin guards, and a snack, or setting aside an hour for a drill assigned by the coach.
Remember, practice makes perfect! With a little practice, your child will be well prepared to plan for success. Once your child has mastered the art of planning, you may want to move on to the next great organization project - organizing a homework space.