Kids and Planning Skills

Kids and Planning Skills

We often do this for our kids, but do you teach your young person how to plan?  In a national survey, nearly half of all the kids surveyed said they need help planning.  One approach that has been quite successful is that of a family meeting.  Family meetings are a great place to plan family activities and discuss each child’s week and help them see the days when things won’t work very well, and make an adjustment. During family meetings, you can prioritize the focus for the week and see how transportation and other collective events work together. By taking the time to place events on a calendar, you help your child see how to do this for themselves.

Many schools now provide kids with a day planner; however, as a former school administrator of many years, I can testify that kids have no idea what happened to the planner after about the first month.

Have your kids plan some family events by helping them to place them on their calendar and then add steps each day leading up to their week.  It allows kids to set priorities in their life by seeing that they may have to give up something they want to do in favor of something that takes a higher priority.  Learning to plan and use time effectively is a huge problem for so many kids.  At times you get that child who seems to do that independently, but it is by far the exception rather than the rule.  Sit down with your child and help them to place key assignments from class, along with their activities that occur regularly.  Place family events, like family meetings, on their calendar and birthdays.  Then help them to sit down once a week and plan their week.

I am a proponent of planning once a week and then adjusting as needed.  Put the big stuff on your calendar first, and then add the little things that matter less as time allows.  As Stephen R. Covey teaches in The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, we need to schedule around the big rocks.  Teaching planning skills teaches kids how to sacrifice and hold what is essential.

I think it is also essential to give yourself some room when scheduling.  I would plan my day far too tight for many years, not allowing for anything to interrupt my schedule.  I frequently found myself falling short of what I had expected.  It took quite a while to get used to giving myself some time.  I need to mention that helping kids get accustomed to planning long-term assignments is also an important skill. Assisting the kids to schedule a homework assignment in class and then writing smaller steps leading up to the due date will serve them all their life.

Sometimes we wonder how we learned this stuff, as it doesn’t seem anyone taught us to do this.  Still, take time to sit with your child and help them to plan formally.  Establish some time, maybe on a Sunday afternoon, when the entire family can sit down and schedule the week together.  It will make the week much smoother, but it will also increase the family’s resilience and help with communication.

For more on this topic, please see another post here What Kids Need: Planning Skills – Dr. Rich Patterson (

Here is a link to 10 Planning Skills Every Child Should Learn 10 Planning Skills Every Child Should Learn | Life Skills, Advocate

I encourage you as a parent to sit and work on planning skills with your young people; you will be giving them life-long skills that will separate them from many others in their life.

Yours for Better Parenting,