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Agenda Use Develops Organizational Skills

Connecting with teachers and staying on the pulse of your child’s every move at school is easier these days, thanks to the use of email, school websites, and teacher webpages.  Parents can keep up on the details of their children’s academic lives, and kids can download assignments or login to apps such as Google Docs to access projects, all thanks to these modern conveniences.

Is there slower development of important life skills in kids, thanks to the internet?  Specifically, I wonder about organizational and time management skills. 

Students can develop organizational and time management skills by using agendas.

Students can develop organizational and time management skills by using agendas.

Easy parent access to all school and classroom details impedes the development of a child’s organizational skills, in my opinion.  When a child neglects to fill out her daily agenda, or forgets to bring home important assignments, parents can use online posts by teachers to “check up” and make sure that their child stays on top of course expectations.  I don’t think this helps kids learn how to be organized.  Parents can “save the day”, instead of their kids seeing the consequences of their actions.

As a teacher, I pushed my students to fill out their agendas with homework and extracurricular details throughout the school day, every day.  At dismissal time, we would review the important upcoming details and add last-minute items to the agenda.  My students would pack up their backpacks with the resources required to stay up-to-date.  Those who failed to meet these expectations (agenda use and thoughtful backpack packing) usually suffered consequences such as late penalties or the need to cram their assignments and studying.  Kids learned that staying organized was key to achieving good grades.

Kids need to step up to the plate and “own” their lives at school.  They need to keep track of their own academics and extra-curriculars.  This is how they will learn to cope in the real world.

How can you help your child develop organizational skills, and time management skills, without “saving the day”? 

Encourage the use of the agenda, and create a daily routine with its use at home.  Your children have to fill it out at school — this is their responsibility.  Your children need to bring home the right resources to complete assignments and prepare for tests.  Without consistent repetition of these two key behaviours, good organization is difficult to maintain.  Children will see the consequences of this in their grades and teacher feedback.

MAXIMIZE AGENDA USE WITH YOUR CHILD

  1. Pick a time of day to check the agenda.  Pick a place in your home to do this.  Make it a habit.
  2. Open the agenda together.  Ask questions and discuss the school day.
  3. Together, review school news and upcoming projects.
  4. Encourage your child to establish a consistent written format in the agenda.  Reinforce the organizational skills taught by the teachers.
  5. Encourage use of colour and symbols in the agenda.  Personalize it!  Have fun with it, and be creative!  Highlighters and coloured pens are the best.
  6. When homework is completed, encourage your child to put in a happy face, check mark, or cross it off!  It feels so good to do that!  Mission accomplished!
  7. Set priorities and goals with your child, based on due dates and other activities happening in the upcoming week.  Ask questions such as:  “What has to be done for tomorrow, what is urgent, what large project needs to be partly completed over a period of time”?
  8. When you see that your child is forgetting to use the agenda, allow her to fail or miss a deadline.  Don’t try to fix the situation and solve the problem.  Facing a consequence for disorganization at school teaches a child what they didn’t do well.  Hopefully next time, the child will be better organized.  They will develop this skill.
  9. Back off when you see that your child can plan independently.  Reward his growing organizational independence!
  10. Book in lots of time for fun — the agenda is not just for chores and homework!  Use it to anticipate all the fun things in life!