By Sharla Orren
When my 11-year-old son started using a planner, of course his little brother “needed” a planner as well. I will admit that I thought it sounded crazy that a 5-year-old would even use a planner. Even my mom laughed at me, saying, “What has he got to plan?”
Now I realize that not only has he learned a lot in the process, but his having a planner has helped me, too. Now as a part or our weekly routine, we all sit on the couch and talk about our schedule for the upcoming week.
Here are five ways even young children can benefit by having a planner:
1) They gain a concrete understanding of days of the week and months of the year. Normally young children just learn the fun songs about the days of the week and months of the year. With a planner they can actually visualize what order the days and months are in.
They can look at their planner and see that Thanksgiving is in November and the month after that is December. My son made comments such as, “It is July, and there is four months until my birthday.” He also said, “We go on our trip on Tuesday. Today is Sunday. We have two more days until we leave for our trip.”
2) It helps them learn to plan ahead. My son is able to look at his planner and see what time an activity will take place. If we have an activity early the next morning, he knows he needs to get up early the following day.
He and his big brother also have a booth at the farmers’ market this year. They make products to sell. He can see how many days he has left to work on the products he will be selling on Saturday by looking at his planner.
3) They gain independence. This has been a major benefit for me. No longer does he ask me 25 times a day how many days until his cousin comes for a visit. He can look at his planner and count the days by himself.
He has also had the opportunity to learn that sometimes he must choose between two activities. He has a visual way to understand why he cannot schedule two activities at once. He has more control over his activities.
4) They learn time management skills. On a day when more than one thing is scheduled, a planner helps him understand why he might be late to the second event if we spend too much time on the first event. He can see the “white squares” and know that those are days that nothing is scheduled. He is learning it is sometimes good to have “white square days.”
5) They create lifelong habits. My goal is to continue training my children on how to use their planners. I am hoping that they will continue to use planners in college and beyond. This is a great life skill.
I am so glad we got my younger son his own planner. I encourage you to get a planner for yourself and your children. Make it a part of your daily or weekly routine. I think you will be amazed at how it helps all of you.