I get giddy when school supplies show up in the stores. GID-DY! I lovingly read through all the sales flyers and spend an extra long time in the the office supply section in Target. Markers, pens, notebooks – I love ’em all. I am particularly tempted by the beautiful notebooks, journals, and student planners. However, I know that by October they will be collecting dust on my desk. My students suffer from the same problem. I call it “empty planner syndrome.” Students have shown me their pristine student planners – in June. Sometimes planners are used for a few weeks or months before being abandoned. The rare few are used all year.
So, why don’t teens use student or school planners? It usually comes down to 2 reasons. One, they haven’t found the planner that works for them. Two, they were never taught how to use it. So let’s fix both those problems.
Most teens were never taught how to use a planner. Click To Tweet
Picking a student planner
Most schools expect students to use paper planners. They are easy to throw in a bag and fairly inexpensive. However, look beyond the one the school might provide. Wander through the office supply section at a local store or browse through some online. Here are some things to look for in a paper planner:
- Monthly calendar to fill in major events
- Weekly calendar with enough space on each day to write down assignments
- Area to write in due dates and check off assignments as completed
Other things to consider: Does your child have large handwriting? Then she might need a larger planner with more space. Is he rough on supplies? Think about a sturdy plastic cover.
Here are some of my favorites (contains affiliate links):
- 2017-2018 Academic Planner – Love this one! Plenty of space to write AND a calendar for after school commitments. Check out my blog post to find out more reasons I am in love with this planner!
- Bloom Daily Planner – Combines most of my requirements and pretty as well.
- Five Star Academic Planner – This plastic cover will last all year, no matter how rough your kid is on notebooks.
- Printable Planner Pages – I created these pages for you to print off and create your own planner
The reason my pretty planners collected dust? It turns out I like electronic systems better. They are available on your computer, tablet, and/ or phone and usually will sync across all of them. You have unlimited space to write! Most will also let you set reminders for yourself. These apps are all fairly similar, so consider price and ease of use.
Here are a few I like:
- Google Calendar – my boo! So functional and easy to use. Most kids already have a Google account through school.
- Homework App – easily color code assignments and events
- My Homework App – (similar name, different app)
In short, find a system that works for your child. If a paper planner works, use it. If an app on his phone works, use that!
How to use a student planner:
Get your teen, his planner, some pens or pencils, and highlighters to set up the monthly calendar. First, he should add all non-school commitments (athletics, family events, extracurricular activities, etc) to the calendar. Next, add any school holidays or important school dates (ex – end of marking period). Then add any major school assignments – tests, project due dates, etc.
Now it’s time to color code – pick a color for each category (school, sports, extracurricular, church, family, etc) and consistently use that color throughout the planner. If using a paper planner, tape a key to the inside cover. Pro tip – most electronic apps will color code for you automatically.
Now onto the weekly pages! During school, your teen needs to take out his or her planner at the beginning of each class and write down the homework assignment. If left to the end of class, she might run out of time. One decision that needs to be made – will assignments be written on the day assigned or the day it is due? It’s personal preference, but your kiddo needs to stick to one or the other. Personally, I write things down on the day it is due.
Your teen needs to be as specific as possible. She should write something for EVERY class EVERY day. If there is no homework, she should write down “no homework.” Instead of just “worksheet”, she should write “Conjugating verbs worksheet.” Instead of “read story,” write “Read p. 4-20 and complete journal entry.” Instead of “p. 133”, write “complete p. 133 #4-20 evens only”. More writing = less confusion later.
Finally, your teen should mark off assignments when they are completed. This lets her (and you) know that assignments are actually done.
Make it a habit!
It takes time to create a new habit, so don’t expect this to happen overnight. You will play a starring role, in fact. Ask to see the planner every night and discuss what was written in it (and why it might be empty). Make any necessary corrections (“Tomorrow, write more specific descriptions of your homework.” “Don’t forget to color code!”). This process might take a week, a month, or a few months. If she just stops using it all together, it’s clearly not working for her. Discuss what she doesn’t like about her current planner and pick out a new one. Keep trying until one sticks.
Don’t forget to model planner use yourself. While updating your kid’s planner, take a look at your own practices. When reviewing his planner nightly (yes, nightly in the beginning), show him yours and how you use it.
These days, I admire those shiny planners and journals from afar. I found a system that works for me and I’m sticking to it.
If you haven’t downloaded the planner worksheet yet, click below!
What type of planner do you find the most useful? Let me know in the comments below!