Life skills, such as motivation, resilience, communication, confidence and planning – are recognised as being as, if not more important than academic qualifications by 88% of young people, 97% of teachers and, most importantly 94% (almost 19 out of every 20) of employers1. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to separate the demonstrably critical skill of time-management and planning. In this article – we’re going to go through five ideas to emphasise even the most resistant of students to the importance of diligent planning – not for test scores, but for a life that is in control.
Fail to plan, plan to fail.
That’s a great catchphrase, isn’t it? Succinct yet universally true. Perhaps something to write on the board for our first tip:
1. Teach students how to plan, while softly emphasising the importance of planning!
“Provide a fast and simple message: “Think smart, and use a plan!”2. If your teaching methods or plans involve introductory lessons covering course topics, the class rules, et cetera – then spending half a lesson on how to use an academic planner is a great way to encourage or even instruct your students to plan their time carefully, not just for deadlines and school events, but for life!
2. Planning as an analysis of time.
Most schools already use a rigid timetable to give daily structure and routine for students. But what about extra-curricular activities? Family events, social events? How many things have your students missed out on because they forgot? Time absolutely flies by for school students – so attaching planning to the idea of not wasting time (and losing out on experiences) can make a seemingly mundane task turn into a guarantee of future reward.
3. Inspect student planning structures in their custom student planners.
Every student is different, some will categorise by theme, by class subject, by perceived priority; and they might also denote categories by colour, special icons or asterisks, almost anything is possible. If it works for them, great! But if, upon talking to the student and going through their planner you find that they’re having difficulty following or sticking to it – perhaps you could suggest some helpful changes to get them back on track.
4. How’s the family schedule?
Like many aspects of teaching, what your students’ lives are like outside of the classroom has an impact on the inverse. When it comes to planning, does the family have a to-do board? A filled-in calendar? If not, maybe the student could have a project of building a planning system at home!
5. Don’t even try to remember everything.
There’s a reason we use calendars, usually on our phones and on Outlook (perhaps categorised by colour!). In the classroom, if you set a deadline – and see students putting a note in their phone, demand to see them put it in their planner! That way, when you come to review – you can track how planning impacts success in terms of deadlines, and ultimately, achievement.
Penstripe loves planning – which is why we can work with your school to design a custom school planner; as well as bespoke student planners that can include pages such as daily checklists, term-dates, information for parents as well as anything else that you need. Click on one of the links to find out more!
 “LIFE LESSONS – Improving essential life skills for young people”; Cullinane, Carl and Montacute, Rebecca; Pub. 10/2017 Retrieved 06/05/2019
 Excerpt from “HELPING CHILDREN LEARN: INTERVENTION HANDOUTS FOR USE IN SCHOOL AND AT HOME”; 2nd edition; Jack A. Naglieri and Eric B. Pickering; Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. 2010; Retrieved 06/05/2019