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Creating the Ultimate Student Planner: Executive Functioning Success

Why is it that more and more students are struggling with the process of recording, completing, and turning in homework assignments?  It used to be that every teacher had a similar process.  They:

  1. Wrote assignments on the blackboard.
  2. Asked students to record this information into their planner.
  3. Collected the student’s daily assignments.

Now that teachers use varying degrees of technology, it seems like each teacher has different expectations as well as different procedures.  As a result, those students with weak executive functioning skills, often struggle with the homework process. Without a consistent, structured routine, planning, time management, and organization can fall by the wayside. Sadly, many of these students are often mislabeled as careless, lazy and unmotivated and they may struggle to get the grades that they deserve.

Is it the Student's Fault when they Fail to Turn in Assignments?
It’s easy to see that it is not a student’s fault if they are paralyzed and need a wheelchair. It’s also easy to understand that if a child can not see the blackboard, that they may require glasses.  But because executive functioning troubles are “invisible,” those that are good at planning, time management and organization tend to have trouble believing that what is a “no brainer” for them, can be extremely challenging for others.  Furthermore, executive functioning is one of the last cognitive processes to fully develop and often continues to improve throughout the college years. Therefore, when elementary, middle school and even high school teachers expect all of their students to manage the homework process, this can lead to problems.

What Can Be Done to Help Students with Weak Executive Functioning Skills Manage Their Homework?
The first step is to help these students find or create a planner or agenda that they are willing to use.  Although apps can be helpful, I find that parents and teachers often have a better time helping and monitoring with printed options.  

What are Some Helpful Features When Creating or Purchasing an Ideal Planner?
What is most important is to consider each student’s needs.  
  1. If a student has difficulty remembering what materials to take to and from school, you might want to include checklists or symbols that can serve as a reminder when they are packing up their book bag.
  2. If a student has a hard time managing his or her time, you can include a place to record the estimated and actual homework time.  You can also help them to establish a structured daily routine.
  3. If a student forgets important details, you might want to include a place for teacher or parent initials as well as check boxes to indicate assignments are finished and filed into the allocated folder or binder.
  4. If a student has trouble with long-term assignments, he or she should have a way of planning a week or a month at a glance.

What are Some Other Important Features to Consider for an Ideal Planner?
  1. Book bag checklists
  2. Reminder checklists
  3. Prioritizing checklists
  4. To-do lists
  5. Grade trackers
  6. Student and teacher contact sheets
  7. After school planning sheets
  8. Academic or personal goals sheets
  9. Mindful options can provide a place to share:
    1. Daily gratitude
    2. A word of the day
    3. A quote of the day
    4. Reflections
    5. Visualizations

The Ultimate, Mindful and Editable Planner/Agenda for Students with Executive Functioning Weaknesses:
If you would like to quickly create and tailor your own student planners, consider purchasing my 73-page customizable planner/agenda.  This editable publication offers
a large selection of planner formats and documents that can be used by learning specialists, therapists, parents, and students.  This publication helps students to:
  • structure time
  • remember important materials and appointments
  • track grades
  • establish goals
  • reflect on the past
  • establish a weekday and weekend routine
  • collect the needed contacts
  • plan for upcoming events and assignments
  • improve communication between parents and teachers
  • juggle responsibilities.
Because the pages were created in PowerPoint, purchasers can easily create a second copy of the publication and then quickly alter the dates, wording, design, colors, fonts, and images.  The publication offers both color and black and white options.  You will also receive both a PDF (non editable version) and a PowerPoint (editable version).
To learn more CLICK HERE.

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 and Learning Specialist Courses.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to,,, &  

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