Planning is an important skill that helps children complete chores and homework in a timely manner, save money for games and toys, follow rules, and keep track of belongings. This will eventually give them a sense of direction and ignite passion, motivation, and satisfaction. Here are a few simple things you can do to teach your children how to plan.
Help your children see how long it takes to do an assignment by setting a visual timer. This could be coloring a 15-minute “slice” on the face of a clock with a dry-erase marker, or looking up a visual timer online such as this Bomb Countdown. Point out when the timer is at the half-way point and have them check how far along they are. If not quite half-way, they can list things that are distracting them or tell you how much more time they need. This will help them understand how much time to allot to their homework each night.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
As you’re helping your child plan, ask questions such as, “Did that strategy work last time you tried it? What might work better?” or “You said you’d do that assignment on Wednesday, but that’s the same night as soccer. Is there something you can adjust?” Encouraging kids to reflect can help them become better at flexible thinking.
Practice With Long-Term Assignments
The next time your child has a big project, take the time to help them break it down into smaller steps. For example, if they had a book report, they would need to read the book, shop for materials, and create the project. Next, work backwards from the due date. In this example, they might need three days to put the project together and a day to shop for materials, leaving 10 days to read the book. The book is 150 pages, so they would need to read 15 pages a day. Kids are less likely to procrastinate when the project is broken down into smaller, more doable chunks.
Show your children the big rocks, pebbles, and water analogy. Explain that the big rocks signify their most essential tasks (school, homework, sleep, etc) and pebbles are extracurricular commitments. Water is “want-to’s” like video games and hanging out with friends. Have them label parts of their schedule as the different objects and ask if they’re putting things in the right order. Talk to them about their goals, priorities, and passions to find where they want to spend their time and help them understand how to make changes to their schedule if things feel out of balance.
Get your children started with one of our Academic Planners. With three options created specifically for elementary, middle and high school students, they’ll easily keep track of their schedules and homework assignments.