Of all the executive functions, planning can be the most challenging for kids. That’s because their brains have often not yet developed the ability to manage future thinking. Teachers and parents expect these executive function challenged students to get a report done in time, and are often surprised when the student begins work only the day before it’s due. Their brain requires some external support to get it done – and not just a list.
Planning is sometimes difficult for adults too. We have the tendency to jot down a list of “to do” items, and consider that to be our plan for the week. But a plan is much more than a list. A plan allows us to allot specific amounts of time needed to finish certain tasks. When a due date is required, it’s very helpful to plan backwards from the desired finish time, including planned events and other responsibilities. I go quite deeply into how to do this in my Seeing My Time course.
Teaching your child to plan his time and tasks is an invaluable life skill. In my book, 50 Tips to Help Students Succeed, I go into this on a deeper level, but here is a brief summary of how to teach your child to plan.
This is a great thing to do together if you also struggle with executive functions. Model how to do it and show that you are also planning ahead. Discuss what worked and needs improvement, perhaps steps of the plan that you left out. There is opportunity for learning on all sides with this activity. Have fun with it!
Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program®. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.