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2. 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 them 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 they can access it with one flip.
3. REVIEW WHAT TO WRITE DOWN, AND WHEN
Go over the times of day when your child should use their planner — in class, when the teacher announces assignments and due dates; at transition times, such as packing up at their locker at the end of the day; at home, when they check the homework assignments they need to do (and marks them as they’re completed); and before bed, when they ensure that all of their assignments are in their backpack. Suggest that your child use “texting” language, so they can write quickly and save space.
4. HAVE THE TEACHER CHECK THE PLANNER
Many children with ADHD insist they wrote down their assignments, only to find that they left out critical details. One 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 their teacher to look over the planner before they leave class.
5. SCHEDULE FUN STAFF AND SCHOOL STUFF
Using a planner can help your child develop skills that those with ADHD usually find challenging: juggling responsibilities, allotting time, and planning ahead. Have your child schedule extracurricular events — concerts and martial arts lesson — and activities with friends in their planner, as well as academics. It will get them to take the long view and learn to spot and avoid time conflicts.
6. CUSTOMIZE THE PLANNER WITH “ADD-ON’S”
Parents can place sticky notes of various sizes and colors in the planner to remind their child about special school events or tasks — asking the Math teacher for help with last night’s homework, for example. A notation about Thursday’s piano lesson may include a prompt to practice every day for 15 minutes. Make a checklist of books and materials your child needs to bring home each day and paperclip it to the planner.
7. 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 they’ve been assigned a report, mark the due date with a colored marker and work backwards, allotting a day for selecting a topic, and so on. Be sure to leave enough time to write a rough and final draft.
8. 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 schedules — 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!
9. PREPARE FOR THE NEXT DAY
As your child packs his book bag each evening, make sure that homework is in its folder and that everything he’ll need — violin, sneakers, lunch money, and their planner — is ready to go in the morning. Reserve a shelf or cabinet by the front door for items that your child takes to school every day. Label it with colored stickers, so that glasses, wallet, and bus pass can be easily found. Hang a hook underneath for a backpack or sports bag.