teach them diligently [planning]

Welcome to the eighth installment of my Teach Them Diligently series. If you’re new here and would like to see the other topics, click below.

January [ironing]

February [the oven]

March [saving]

April [safety]

May [purging]

June [written correspondence]

July [cleaning the bathroom]


One of my goals for this year is to continue teaching my children some skills to make them more independent of me. A focus of our learning around here is to take full advantage of all the learning we can in and around the home. In addition to math, science, and languages, I feel it’s my duty to help my children learn to care for their own needs.

Each month of this year, I am focusing on a different skill/chore and taking my time to instruct my children. This isn’t earth-shattering news. These aren’t difficult skills. No doubt generations of mothers before me have been doing this since the dawn of time. I have been slowly showing and teaching my children these things since they were tiny.

First it was to put away toys into baskets and bins and over the years that has evolved into doing their own laundry, loading and emptying the dishwasher, and making their own beds. As they are growing, so, too, should their level of involvement around the house.

Our kids do earn “commissions” for a few set chores each week, but the skills we are working on this year are “just because” skills. They will learn to utilize planners and calendars to see their long range goals and break them down into smaller tasks; they will become more responsible for time management as it pertains to their school responsibilities. 


I’ve spent some time re-reading some of these Teach Them Diligently posts, and I hope I’m not sounding like a task master or like I’m training tiny robots who have no need of a mother in their lives. #momguilt

Anyway, with the start of another school year that is much heavier on an academic pace set and dictated by outside teachers (as well as my own teaching responsibilities), it is IMPERATIVE that the kids and I put into place some systems and routines for making sure we don’t overlook any school assignments.

Over the years, I have set up a few of my own systems like my meal planning and my household binder (think one-stop-shop for family schedules, budgets, important papers, etc.). I keep that on a shelf in my pantry (mom-cave) and at any given time Ryan, Thomas, Kate or Mae can check the monthly calendar to see when we may have a trip planned or they can easily see the “week-at-a-glance” to be reminded of the time of an orthodontist appointment or baseball game. (I use the Passion Planner and love it!)



I’ve written about it before but I take about 20 minutes every Sunday afternoon to review the week, the coming month and make myself priority lists of what needs to be done. I can’t express just how much this little planning-sesh keeps me organized. It especially helps me consolidate errands and trips to the store.

Anyway, I say that to say, that my own love of organization is what has prompted and spurred on my desire to pass along this skill to Mae, Kate, and Thomas. As a teacher-mama, I feel strongly that during these years of my kids’ lives I have a perfect opportunity to build their self-confidence by allowing them chances to try things out within the safety of our home. I can offer direction, correction if needed, and then, praise when they have each learned how to do a job well.

By the time they each leave the nest I hope that we have a mutual confidence in their capability (and ability) to stand firmly on their own two feet!

So let’s get down to brass tacks:

Mae is using one of my ALL-TIME favorite planners. It’s the Blue Sky academic year planner that runs from July-June. There’s a month-at-a-glance, and LARGE and simple spaces for a week-at-a-glance planning. She is writing in her daily assignments for her academic work and then checking things off as she completes them. I actually have one of these too for some long range homeschool planning. I’m using it as my official teacher planner for our academic year.


Thomas also has a student planner that he’s keeping with all of his co-op materials. He is using his planner to make notes in class when his teachers give assignments and due dates. (Thankfully, most of his teachers also email assignments so there’s a safety net if he misses something.)

In addition to his planner, Thomas is utilizing a simple dry erase board near his desk in his room. He’s having to spend some time (with my guidance) trying to figure out what work he needs to do which days in order to be caught up for his Tuesday and Thursday classes. He has considerably more work this year as a middle schooler and this skill of time management is vital. I believe it is so helpful to have a visual reminder of what you need to do. Also, marking off or erasing completed items….pure delight!!!



For Kate, we use simple lists of what she needs to do each week and then she checks them off. She is at an age where she doesn’t have quite the workload of her siblings and I’m trying not to overwhelm her or expect the same level of responsibility from a seven year old.


I know these skills are continually helping our kids gain independence. I know these skills, if habitually practiced and performed, will become second nature. And there will come a time when I am mostly removed from the equation. Very soon with my almost twelve year old and not for quite some time with my Kate, a second grader.

Ultimately, having this skill set in their bag of tricks allows for clear expectations on what each of our children need to do WITHOUT me having to NAG them into doing it. In fact, I rarely should have to even remind them. It’s all there in black and white. The proof is in the pudding planner.


So here’s to rolling up to co-op (literally for Thomas) well prepared with the days’ work and a confident attitude that they’ve dotted their “i’s” and crossed their “t’s.”

What about you? How do you keep your kids organized? Especially during the school year? Does the school require a planner to be signed? Do you keep a board, calendar, planner or master list? Are you, yourself, naturally organized?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and strategies. I’d especially love to hear from you if there’s a fun, new system that you’re utilizing that may require me to invest in some new school or office supplies. =)

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