Homework & Studying

9 Secrets to a Super Effective School Planner

Children with ADHD who use school planners are more organized and earn higher grades. But only if they use them correctly. How to help your child make the most of this essential tool.

An example of the best school planner which is waiting out there somewhere for you.
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Pick the Right Planner

The best school planner (paper) will be thin, with a spiral binding to prevent pages from falling out, and a weekly page layout. A monthly planner may be overwhelming and unwieldy, and won't have enough room to write down daily assignments. Avoid bulky planners and leather covers. Finally, look for a planner that has a pocket or sleeve for storing papers to and from the teacher.

The best school planners should always be carried around in your bag as shown here.
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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 him 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 he can access it with one flip.

The best school planner will have a lot of space to take notes.
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Review What to Write Down, and When

Go over the times of day when your child should use his planner—in class, when the teacher announces assignments and due dates; at transition times, such as packing up at his locker at the end of the day; at home, when he checks the homework assignments he needs to do (and marks them as they're done); and before bed, when he ensures that all of his assignments are in his backpack. Suggest that your child use "texting" language, so he can write quickly and save space.

[Free Download: 10 Solutions for Disorganization at School]

A teacher checking the student's school planner, which is an excellent way to ensure quality communication.
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Have the Teacher Check the Planner

Many students with ADHD swear 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 her teacher to look over the planner before she leaves class.

This soccer club, like other activities, should also have a section in the best school planners.
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Schedule Fun Stuff and School Stuff

Using a planner can help your child develop skills that those with ADHD usually find challenging: juggling responsibilities, allotting time, planning ahead. Have your child schedule extracurricular events — concerts and martial arts lessons — and activities with friends in her planner, as well as academics. It will get her to take the long view and learn to spot and avoid time conflicts.


A highly customized schedule, which is a hallmark of the best school planners.
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Customize the Planner with Add-Ons

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, say. 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.

A calender with an important date noted, which is an important part of the best school planners.
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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 he’s been assigned a report, mark the due date with a colored marker and work backward, allotting a day for selecting a topic, and so on. Be sure to leave enough time to write a rough and final draft.

[How to Convince Your Teen to (Actually) Use a Planner]

A family discussing how they will best use their school planner.
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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 schedule — 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.