Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
– Malcolm X
All too often I have parents and teenagers tell me that a paper planner will not help, that their teens need organizational skills and time management skills. Although your teen may need both of these skills, a paper planner is the foundation for learning organizational and time management skills. I often have to ask parents to take a leap of faith, along with their teen and to use a paper planner and a calendar. What makes a calendar and a planner effective in making sure your teenager develops strong study skills?
First a planner is a way for your teen to track all of their homework assignments to take the time to write down the assignments helps your teen to remember they have an assignment. Paper planners are a flexible medium that help us understand how we use our time. By seeing a month or a week at a time it forces your teen to think about priorities for the whole week in advance (rather than just day by day), which is the first step in learning how to manage time and to organize priorities. By having a monthly planner, your teen can add in athletic events, social events, long term school projects. What a disaster if the homecoming game and parties are the same weekend that needs to be taken up by a huge project that was assigned 4 weeks ago but by not having a big picture outlook, it all becomes a crisis and some tense family moments. By having that monthly and weekly approach your teen with your help can work backwards and make sure big assignments and studying for exams are done in a timely manner and not in the crisis stage. It is about being proactive and being in control of where your teen spends your time.
As a parent, I have always used a paper planner and a calendar. To teach our daughters time management and organizational skills, we had them fill in their activities on the family calendar. It started early but created that habit and accountability of where they were spending their time. Of course there were a few mishaps and forgotten activities but the responsibility fell onto the daughter who had not written it down. When we take the time to write out what we’re planning to do, why and how, we’re setting ourselves up to be more thoughtful and accountable. We aren’t just mindlessly setting a recurring time block on our phone that we’ll forget ever existed – we’re actively engaging with our goals, our schedule and how we want to use our time. Time once spent can never be regained. Having a planner makes sure that we are thoughtful with our time. Our teens should learn this skill set early so that as life gets hectic with more commitments, they can visually see where they are spending their time, and if that is where they want to be spending their time.
I leave you as parents with one fun activity to try as a family. On a weekly calendar, have each of you track how much time you spend on social media, that includes, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, DMing, IMing, watching videos on youtube and gaming each day. No judgement, just create awareness of where your time is being spent and see if it can be spent doing something else?