Back to School: Planning, Time Management and Organization Instruction

Many teachers can not fathom how apparently simple tasks such as using an agenda or turning in an assignment can be very difficult for some of their students.  In fact, many students need comprehensive instruction
and scaffolding to learn to plan, manage time, and organize. 
Executive functioning, which encompasses these skills is the last part of
the brain to fully develop, and in actuality, does not reach maturation until students
reach their early 20’s. 
How Hard Can it Really Be to Plan, Manage Time and Organize?
I have to admit, when I first started working
with students that struggled with executive functioning, I was surprised how
challenging planning, time management and organization could be for some of my
young, bright learners.  What
seemed to be clear and obvious was obscure, taxing and problematic for
These Students are Often Misunderstood:
of compassion and strategies, students that have difficulties with executive
functioning are often intimidated, harassed and mishandled with discipline and
inconsistent methods that result in poor grades. Many of these students are continually told that they
are lazy, unmotivated and careless, and this often results in feelings of frustration,
anger and even helplessness.  Acquiring accommodations for students that struggle with executive functioning difficulties is rare, and now, with
technology at our fingertips, each teacher seems to have their own way of
communicating and collecting assignments. 
As a result, this population of learners seems to be under additional pressure due to the lack of cohesive structure across classes and their need for consistency. 
So What are the Signs that a Student has Executive Functioning
They often:
1.   lose materials.
2.   forget to turn in assignments.
3.   leave things to the last minute.
4.   miscalculate or underestimate the amount of
time it will take to complete a task.
5.   fail to record homework in an agenda or
6.   leave needed materials at school.
7.   leave needed materials at home.
8.   fail to prepare for tests.
9.   fail to plan and break down long-term
assignments into manageable tasks or goals.
10. neglect to
plan for midterms or finals.
11. forget
12. lose focus
and miss important notes or directions.
13. lose mental
stamina and fail to complete a task.
14. misplace
important materials.
15. rush through
So What can be Done to Assist these Students?
1.   Create a structured daily routine.
2.   Set priorities.
3.   Generate a homework plan. 
4.   Break large assignments into manageable chunks.
5.   Make to do checklists.
6.   Teach study skills.
7.   Illustrate note-taking skills.
8.   Demonstrate time management skills by breaking large
assignments into manageable         chunks with numerous deadlines.
9.   Teach test taking strategies.
10. Demonstrate memory
11. Help student motivation by
offering incentives and positive reinforcement.  
12. Create and use graphic organizers for writing.
13. Teach metacognitive skills
by thinking through the process aloud. 
Where Can I Get Ready Made Materials?
learn all about these strategies and more, I have created a
116 page publication on CD or digital download that offers methods and materials that help to structure, guide, and support students in the areas of
time management, planning and organization
(executive functioning skills). 
This comprehensive document includes agendas, questionnaires,
checklists, as well as graphic organizers for writing and test preparation.  You will also find advice and materials
in the areas of reading, math, memory, motivation, setting priorities and
creating incentives programs. 
These materials were all created over a ten year period in my private
practice.  What’s more, the
materials are varied and accommodate learners of all ages from elementary to
college.  Finally, you can also get
a free sample assessment from the publication, as well as view a free video on executive functioning.  Click Here  

Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to &  
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