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Organizing for Back to School: The Academic Planner | Families

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Organizing for Back to School: The Academic Planner
Organizing for Back to School: The Academic Planner

If you have a middle schooler or a high schooler, there is one school supply that is essential for keeping them organized this school year…a good academic planner. Without a planner the only real way your child has to keep of other assignments and due dates is in his or her head. We all know that method rarely works out well.

If you have an elementary school student, it’s never to early to start teaching them how to use a planner. My kids’ elementary school gave planners (they called them agendas) to every student and it was a great way for the parents to know what was coming up in school and to communicate with the teachers.


Anatomy of a Good Academic Planner

Sturdy - There is nothing worse that the cover of your planner coming off before the end of the first semester. Look for a planner with a sturdy binding (usually spiral) and thick cover.

Based on the School Year - Be sure to get a planner that runs the same as the school year (July to August usually). Using a planner that follows the calendar year (January to December) means that you will have to switch to a new planner right in the middle of the school year. Keep it simple and keep in sync with the school year.

Pre-Printed Dates - To me there is nothing worse that a generic, date-less calendar - you know the type where you have to fill in the blanks. First it’s a lot of work, but then it also leaves room for error. If you miswrite a date in September, you can mess up the entire rest of the year.

Lots of Room To Write - Since this is where your student will be recording lots of information, it is important that it is big enough and that the pages are roomy enough for writing everything down. Pocket sized calendars may be more portable in a back pocket but they just aren’t big enough for this job.

Focused on the School Week - Unlike a traditional calendar which gives equal status to every day of the week, a good planner will give each weekday lots of room for writing. It may even have separate sections for different time blocks (or class periods) through out the day. You also want to be sure that is has room for after school and evening activities as well.


Using Your Planner

At the beginning of the school year, have your student write their name, contact info and schedule in the front of the planner. Then have them mark important dates from the school calendar like breaks and major testing periods. This will supplement the assignments and other dates they add throughout the year.

Encourage them to write assignments, due dates and test dates in the planner immediately as the teacher gives that information. As I pointed out before, it’s hard to remember all of the different moving parts, especially if your student has 7 subjects, a part-time job and after school activities.

It is important that your student keeps their planner with them at all times during the school day. You never know when something might come up that needs to be added to the calendar. This is a good life lesson that many of us adults need to follow as well. Also keeping a pen or pencil with the planner is ideal.

If your student is a visual processor, encourage them to color code their classes - everything math related is red while everything for history is blue. This can apply to writing in their planner but also to their notebooks and binders.


A Good Planner To Try

There is a wide variety of academic planners on the market. Just visit your local Target or Office Depot. One that I proudly recommend is the Academic Planner: A Tool for Time Management from Order out of Chaos. Created by Professional Organizer Leslie Josel, this planner grew out of her work organizing students and her personal experience raising her son who was diagnosed with ADHD and some other learning issues. So she knows her stuff.

The reasons I really like the Academic Planner: A Tool for Time Management is because it checks all the boxes I listed in the anatomy of a good planner section above. And it comes in 2 sizes - the traditional letter size (8 ½” x 11”) and the slightly smaller (8 ½” x 8 ¼”) - and has a plastic pocket in the back for catching those miscellaneous pieces of paper and maybe a hand pack of post-it notes. I invite you to check out Leslie’s planners and other student organizing/time management tools. By the way all of the photos in this post are of these planners.  {BONUS: Use promo code PLANNER20 to get a 20% discount on planners from Order out of Chaosfac until September 30, 2016.}

What is the most successful way your student keeps track of their school year?


Andi Willis is a Home and Photo Organizing Expert and the owner of Good Life Organizing based in Perry, GA.  She is a Professional Organizer who loves to help people find creative solutions to organize their homes and simplify their lives. Andi can help you get past the clutter and get on with your life! 


Find Andi at Good Life Organizing, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. You can also contact her by email or (478) 550-1969. Check out her guest blog and videos on Uncle Bob’s Self Storage Blog. You can also find her ebooks on Amazon.

Grab your copy of our  Home Organizing DIY Assessment Workbook. Find it at the Good Life Organizing Store along with our ebooks.

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