Published on ADDitudeMag.com
9 Tips for Using a School Planner Successfully
Children with ADHD who use a planner are more organized and earn higher grades. Here’s how to help your child use this essential tool for school.
Pick the Right Planner
The ideal paper planner will
be thin, with a spiral binding to prevent pages from falling out, and a weekly
page layout. A monthly planner may be overwhelming and unwieldy. Avoid bulky
planners and leather covers. Make sure you choose one with enough space for
writing down assignments: The younger the child, the larger their handwriting.
Finally, look for a planner that has a pocket or sleeve attached at the back so
that papers to and from the teacher can be kept together.
Keep the Planner at Your Child’s Fingertips
Experts recommend that
students keep their planner in the front pocket of their book bag or a binder
that they carry to their classes. It should take no more than two small actions—reach
and open—for your child to retrieve his planner. Have him keep a pen in the
spiral binding to avoid the “pen hunt” that often causes kids to stop using a
planner. Use a binder clip to mark the current page, so he can access it with
Review What to Write Down
Explain to your child when she
should write in her planner, usually during transition points during
the day: the time in each class to record assignments and due dates as they are
announced—she can use “texting” language so she doesn’t fall behind—at the
locker as your child packs up at the end of the day, at home to track the
homework assignments she needs to do, and before bed, ensuring that all of her
assignments are in her backpack.
Have the Teacher Check the Planner
Many ADHD students swear they
wrote down their assignments only to find that they left out critical details.
One ADHD student wrote down that she had reading homework, but forgot to note
the questions that were to be answered. Encourage your child to write down
assignments word for word and ask his teacher to look over the planner before
he leaves class.
Schedule Fun Stuff and School Stuff
Using a planner can help your
child develop skills that ADHDers usually find challenging: juggling
responsibilities, allotting time, planning ahead. Have your child schedule
extracurricular events—concerts and martial arts lessons—and activities with
friends in her planner as well as academics. It will get her to take the long
view and to learn to spot and avoid time conflicts.
Customize the Planner with Add-Ons
Parents can place sticky
notes of various sizes and colors in the planner to remind your child about
special school events or tasks—asking the math teacher for help with last
night’s homework, say. A notation about Thursday’s piano lesson may include a
prompt to practice everyday for 15 minutes. Parents can paper-clip to the
planner a checklist of books and materials your student needs to bring home
Use the Planner to Sharpen Long-Term Planning Skills
All kids, especially those
with ADHD, have difficulty with long-term planning. When your child has a big
test, or is assigned a complicated project, use the homework planner to break
it down into manageable mini-tasks. If he’s been assigned a report, mark the due date with a colored marker and work backward,
allotting a day for selecting a topic and so on, and enough time to write a
rough and final draft.
Throw a Planner Meeting
A meeting at the beginning of
the week—Sunday evening usually works best—works miracles in improving the use
of a planner. Everyone in the family grabs their planners or calendars to
discuss the week ahead. Parents can start by telling family members about their
weekly schedule—everything from deadlines at work to carpool plans. This sets
the stage for children to respond with their plans. It drives home the
importance of thinking ahead.
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