Learning to Plan, Planning to Learn

Nothing can whip a household into a frenzy like looking for a lost set of keys when it’s time to be out the door. Or what about when a child suddenly remembers his book report is due the next day? Lots of kids and their parents have a hard time planning ahead, and that can lead to a lot of stress. Planning isn’t something that comes naturally to young people. They are much more focused on the moment, on mastering the skills needed for the task at hand. They need you to help them learn how to think two or three steps down the road. By practicing planning ahead, they learn important things about what it takes to succeed in life.

Tips for . . .

  • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • Involve your children in planning ahead for outings. Help them choose appropriate clothes to wear and activities to bring. Talk about what they’ll be doing.
    • Draw simple pictures showing the events of an upcoming day.
    • parents with children 6 to 9
    • Teach your children to break down large homework assignments into smaller, more manageable pieces.
    • Help children think through the steps of a plan, such as attending a birthday party. Remind them that they’ll need to reply to the invitation, shop for a present, wrap the gift, and make a card.
    • Use a family calendar to keep track of events and activities. Show your child where it is and how you use it.
    • parents with children 10 to 15
    • Encourage your children to use calendar planners. Help them find one that works for them and figure out how to use it.
    • Pick a night of the week to hold regular family meetings. You can use this time to talk about the activities you have scheduled in the next week and your children can share any upcoming homework due dates.
    • Talk children through planning ahead by asking “what if” questions. This will help them think about what needs to be done and identify possible consequences of their decisions.
    • parents with children 16 to 18
    • Encourage your teen to take responsibility for personal planning by asking guiding questions about things like summer jobs, saving money, or completing projects.
    • Give your teenager full responsibility for meal planning and preparation on a regular basis.
  • Encourage your teen to get involved in a long-term project (one that involves planning and coordination) at school or in the community.

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