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Planning Ahead

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One of the best habits a person can develop is effective use of a planner. A planner, used correctly, will practically eliminate stress, last-minute chaos, accidental oversights. And it’s never too soon to introduce the concept to your kids.

Little kids love stickers, so a child’s first “planner” can be as simple as a monthly calendar with very big squares and lots of stickers. Start by going through the things your family does routinely – dentist appointments, sports practices and games, birthdays, anniversaries. Include anything routine – church, dinner at grandma’s. There are many stickers that are themed – holidays, sports, hobbies. Put a sticker on your calendar for each event and the write a word to remind you of its significance. You have now created a picture of your busy life – an easy reference to your obligations.

Get in the habit of looking at the calendar with your youngster. You can look at bedtime and discuss the upcoming activities. You can look in the morning to see what’s coming up that day. The point is that you develop the habit of referring to the calendar you’ve created.

As your student becomes a little older, you can begin adding other things that need to be done. Take out the trash, clean the litter box, call your aunt. Most kids in school are expected to read for a set amount of time daily. Put that on your planning calendar. You also might want to expand your calendar for your older students – perhaps a 6-month calendar, for instance. As the child moves through the grades and starts having more homework, put it on the calendar: math homework, book report, etc. Help them refer to the calendar. Discuss what’s on it.

Older students might need weekly calendars which provide more space for their homework and other “to do” items. If you’ve been using a system since they were in pre-school, your middle school and high school students will not think twice about using a planner. You’ll still have to look at it and discuss upcoming tests and projects, but the process will be second nature.