Overview: Teaching teens to plan is a vital task that helps them AND you. Here are the steps to take to make this a reality in your homeschool.
Teaching teens to plan their own week is important. Teenagers are on the verge of launching into adult life and heading on to college. You won’t be there to ensure that assignments are completed, appointments kept, and projects finished.
7 Essential Steps for Teaching Teens to Plan
In addition, teaching kids to plan their week takes the responsibility off your shoulders and puts it on your children’s shoulders. They become responsible for seeing to it that their commitments are met.
This frees up some valuable free time for yourself. It also gives your teenager the freedom to plan their own schedule and workload each day.
So let’s take a look at how to teach teens to plan.
1. Give Your Teenager a Planner
The first step is to give your teenager a planner. Office stores usually carry a nice selection of planners for you to choose from. Another option is to pick up a generic homeschool planner for your teen to use.
The type of planner is not as important as having a planner. I’ve usually taken my kids to the store and let them pick out their own planner, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t choose one for your teens to use if that’s easier.
Most student planners have a weekly section over two pages. This will allow your child to easily plan their weekly assignments as they’ll be able to see all their commitments that week.
2. Talk About What’s Expected
Now sit down with your teen and discuss what’s expected. I’ve found kids don’t automatically know what I want them to complete each week unless I explicitly tell them what I expect and why.
The trick is to discuss what items should be recorded in the planner, when assignments are due, and what your priorities are. Chat with your kids about what their plans are for the week. Talk about what’s happening in various activities and online classes.
You want to have a good idea of what’s going on in your teenager’s life and for your teen to have a clear understanding of what you expect from them.
3. Teaching Teens to Plan by Making a List
Now make a written list of all expectations. Not only will you include all of your assignments, but also include any assignments from online classes. Write down what activities, appointments, and classes will be happening during the week.
Make sure that your child’s personal projects and some fun activities are also on the list. Nothing is worse than seeing a long to-do list that doesn’t include any fun activities that need to be completed. These will keep your child motivated to check their list and complete all of their tasks.
4. Teaching Teens to Plan by Prioritizing and Scheduling Tasks
Once you and your teen have created the list of tasks and appointments, it’s time to prioritize and schedule everything on the list.
I find it works best to schedule all appointments, classes, and outside activities first. Don’t forget to schedule some social time as well. Then you can start scheduling assignments and homework.
Remember to teach your child how to break assignments apart into smaller pieces. Writing an essay can be intimidating. However, choosing a topic, writing an introduction, or writing one paragraph is not.
But kids don’t naturally do this, so you’ll need to help your child learn how to break assignments into sections that are easy to complete.
As you’re scheduling assignments, keep in mind that some kids work quickly through their assignments while other teens are slow and methodical. Allow plenty of time for your child’s preferred style, and make certain your plodders include time for relaxation, social activities, and fun projects each week.
Everyone needs some time each day to relax and complete personal projects.
5. Walk Teens Through the Steps to Plan
The first few weeks you sit down with your teenage, you’ll want to walk them through the steps. It takes most kids some time to get used to using a planner.
You’ll also want to check and make certain your teenager is actually using the planner. Some kids will fill out the planner in detail, push it to the back of their desk, and never look at the planner again until you sit down together to plan the next week’s work.
Keep an eye on how your child is breaking down the assignments through the week. If there’s suddenly a problem with your teen completing their work, it’s likely due to how they’re writing down their weekly tasks.
It’s far harder to read 30 pages in one afternoon than it is to read 6 pages a day.
6. Supervise Your Teen
After a few weeks of sitting down and walking your teenager through the steps of planning their week, your teen will be able to do the planning by themselves. Keep an eye on your child and their planner.
One child of mine wrote all his assignments on Monday when I set him free to do his own planning. It wasn’t a bad trick, except it was so daunting to see the long list of work to be done that it was harder to complete his schoolwork.
7. Check the Planner Regularly
Be sure to check the planner regularly. You’ll want to make sure that your teenager is writing their assignments, appointments, and classes down in the planner. Also, check to see that they’re including some fun projects and social events as well.
Your kids will be more likely to use the planner if they know there are fun tasks to be completed each day.
In addition, inspect the planner to see that items are being checked off and completed. A planner can’t serve its purpose if it’s never used.
In the end, the goal of teaching teens to plan means freedom for you and your teenager. You’ll no longer need to spend valuable time planning your teen's assignments, appointments, and activities. Your teenager will enjoy having the freedom to determine their own schedule. If they want to enjoy Fridays off every week, they can plan their work accordingly.
And ultimately, your child will take responsibility for their life, which is the true goal of our homeschooling through high school.