How to get your student to use a planner

We know that planners work, so why aren’t all students using them to keep track of their assignments? There are a few reasons a student will refuse or forget to use their planner. Maybe they haven’t found a planner that works for them. Maybe they have never been taught how to use a planner effectively. Maybe they have an idea that they just aren’t a “planner person,” and they believe it’s easier to keep track of assignments in their heads.

Except we know that students who use planners are much more likely to complete their assignments on time, obtain better grades and experience less stress than those students who attempt to keep track of their assignments mentally. If you’re having trouble getting your student to use a planner (or you can’t seem to make it a habit for yourself!) try using these tips.

  1. Find the right planner.

Your perfect planner is out there, and, yes, it does matter what planner you’re using. If you don’t like the feel or look of your planner, it’s much more likely to go unused. More importantly, you want a planner that is organized in a way that meets your needs. For students, a weekly breakdown with plenty of room to write down daily assignments, plus sections for each subject is crucial. It’s worth exploring options to find the best fit.

This is a simple student planner from Amazon that is inexpensive and is formatted nicely for students with a full class load. It also comes with stickers and a clip-in bookmark. This Mead planner is another basic but effective option.

For a more advanced planner, try this Panda Planner, also available on Amazon. It comes with a weekly and monthly view, and it includes daily prompts and goal-setting options.

Are there other great planners out there? YES! Take the time to shop around and pick a planner that you will actually want to use. Avoid bulky planners and opt for a thinner, sleeker model without a lot of extra pages and features you know you won’t use. Do that, and you will find it much easier to make a habit out of writing down your daily tasks.

2. Practice accountability.

Research tells us that it takes around 21 days to make a habit, and using a planner is a great habit to make for lifelong success. At first, however, writing in it might seem like a burden or something “extra” that students would rather skip. Help keep your student accountable with daily check-ins for the first two weeks or so. If all is going well, those check-ins can reduce in frequency to weekly, and then none at all. (Our tutors are happy to cover these weekly check ins!)

3. Treat yourself!

While it may seem silly, we also know that positive reinforcement works. Decide on a treat or reward, and give it to yourself or your student if you meet the goal. For example, your reward might be: “If I use this planner every day for a week, I get to go out to lunch at my favorite spot, and if I use this planner for 21 days, I can buy that outfit/video game/whatever I’ve been wanting.”

And let’s not forget the natural consequences of using a planner: less stress and better grades! That in and of itself will help your student to see the value of this habit.

Quick tips for planner success …

  • Make sure you have a binder clip or book mark to mark the day. If it’s a pain to find the right day each time you pick up your planner, you’re less likely to use it.

  • Looks matter! Your aesthetic is going to be different from someone else’s, so find a planner that you actually like to look at and pick up. Avoid bulky planners with extra pages and features.

  • Function matters! A planner might be beautiful, but if it doesn’t have well-organized space for you to write down daily assignments, you won’t use it.

  • Remember that forming a habit takes time. Using a planner might feel like “extra work” at first, but make it a habit now, and you will wonder how you ever lived without one!

  • If you’re more tech savvy, using Google calendars and task lists is another great option and can be used as an additional organizational tool.

  • If you are a visual learner, try using colored pens and highlighters to make your planner more appealing. Doodles and pictures have a place in your planner as well!

Where to start when it comes to test prep

We all know how busy the school year can be, which is why summer is a great time to start thinking about the ACT and SAT. Which test date will work best for your schedule? Should you take the ACT or SAT? What is your study plan for obtaining the best score possible? There's no one-size-fits-all approach to success, so let's figure this out together. 

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