How Planners Help Students Learn Organizational Skills

A girl writes in a planner

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Planning and organizational skills aren't just for grownups anymore, and that's a good thing. With all the pressure on students to learn more material in less time than ever, they need tools to be successful in school.

This pressure can be particularly stressful for students with learning disabilities, who may already feel overwhelmed by schoolwork demands. Stress reduction is another great benefit of planning. Breaking assignments into subtasks with timelines helps students feel less stressed because they are creating a manageable schedule for each task.

Why Planners Can Help Students Learn Valuable Skills

Any student, including those with learning or other disabilities, can experience difficulty with time management and organizational skills. Using a planner can help with those issues and gives parents another good tool to keep track of students' progress in school. You can teach your child how to use this great tool to be a more successful student.

Planning helps in many ways:

How to Pick the Right Planner 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, the following helpful tips can help your child learn to use it effectively.

Tips for Helping Your Child Learn to Plan

Be a good example. Use a planner yourself or for the whole family's activities, and make it fun. Have your child practice using the planner by making note of upcoming events, such as visits to grandparents or 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 give a pleasant reminder to help them 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 until it is a habit.

Consider developing a behavior plan to reward your child with positive reinforcement for remembering to bring the planner home with an accurate recording of their 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 they otherwise might have forgotten.

After you've done this for about a month, go back to an entry from one week earlier and talk with your child about that day. What can they remember? How did their notes help both of you remember?

Remember the Importance of Practice

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.

When your child has developed the habit of using the planner, it is time to teach them 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 permanent. When your child commits to doing the work, they will be all the more prepared to plan for success in the future. And once your child has mastered the art of planning, you may want to move on to the next great organization project—establishing a designated homework space.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Ann Logsdon
Ann Logsdon is a school psychologist specializing in helping parents and teachers support students with a range of educational and developmental disabilities.