Pick a Planner for Student Organization

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The planner decision may be taken out of your hands entirely if your child's school passes out planners to students at the start of the year. These have the advantage of being free, being appropriate to most students, and being just like everybody else. However, if your school doesn't provide them or your child needs something a little cooler for motivation, move on to...

Student Planners

You can find planners specialized for students piled up on tables at bookstores and office supply stores at the back-to-school time, and you can also order roomy ones from Action Agendas and special education ones from Quality Planners. These have the advantage of being specially made for school assignments, with student-appropriate designs. However, if your child prefers something a little simpler, move on to personal planners.

Personal Planners

The kind of spiral-bound weekly calendar that might be used to keep adults organized can work for students, too. Office-supply stores or bookstores are good sources for these, as well, in a variety of sizes, formats, and colors.

Teacher Planners

The same book that helps the teacher keep lesson plans organized can help your child keep track of assignments. These thin spiral-bound booklets, found at office supply stores, have two pages per week, with large boxes devoted to each subject each day.

You may need to write in the dates, and rip out unrelated material in the front and back of the book, but your sloppy-writing child will appreciate the roominess of the format.

However, if that format's still too limiting, move on to ...

Spiral-Bound Notebooks

There's no law that says your child's planner has to actually be a planner. Sometimes, just having lines to write on is sufficient. This is a particularly good choice if your child compulsively picks and folds and unspirals and otherwise destroys his planner; get a super-rugged notebook with a heavy cover and a strong or concealed spiral, and buy a new one periodically when the old one disintegrates. However, if simple lines don't provide enough structure, move on to printed planners.

Print-It-Yourself Planners

Get a thin, floppy three-ring binder, and fill it with customized planner pages you print yourself. Download and print pre-designed agenda sheets, or go all-out with the customization and design your own in a word-processing or design program or on a piece of paper with a pencil and a ruler. Print or copy an endless supply of pages on three-hole paper, and adjust the design during the year as you find out what works and what doesn't.

Found the Perfect Planner? Now Use It!

Kids with organizational problems need more than just a great place to write their assignments. They need someone to make sure they have it with them to write in, someone to make sure they write in it, and someone to make sure they read what they wrote. Then, too, if your child feels unable to do the homework, he or she may be highly motivated to not bring the assignment home. Here are some ways to make sure that perfect planner gets some use.

  • Have the teacher or an aide check that assignments have been entered in the book, or enter them for your child. If necessary, ask that this is added to your child's IEP.
  • Ask the teacher or an aide to make sure the book is in your child's book bag at the end of school. If necessary, ask that this is added to your child's IEP.
  • Give your child points or tokens toward a reward for bringing the book home, and more for each assignment entered. The teacher may want to do this as well.
  • Check your child's bookbag before school and make sure the planner is there.
  • If the assignments still aren't getting home, have a meeting with the teacher to discuss ways of improving the situation. Don't believe your child when she says, "We never have any homework," as tempting as that may be.
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