When I meet with students and tell them that they will have to spend time doing “planning work”
before doing their actual homework and studying,they often look at me like I’m crazy.
I’ve actually become used to that look and usually respond with, “I know you think I’m crazy but this will save you time in the long run! Imagine what you can do with all the extra time you’ll have!” Their look of dread does not usually go away, and may even stay around for a few weeks or months—until that one day when they tell me that they spent only a small amount of time on homework, got everything done, and then had extra time to play video games!
One of the first organizational tools that I implement is a homework and study calendar.
The goal of this monthly calendar is to provide students with the opportunity to enhance their time management skills, plan for the future, break tasks down into smaller parts and become more independent & responsible for their own learning– this means less reminders and nagging from parents! EVERYTHING is on the calendar, which leaves little room for negotiation!
Here’s how the calendar works:
- We use a monthly calendar so that students can see what is ahead.
- All tests / assignments / projects / etc. that are non-negotiable (assigned by the teacher) are written at the top of a date’s box in pen and highlighted. Those are the items that students must plan to accomplish.
- All extra curricular activities that are non-negotiable (registered activities, volunteering, etc.) are written in pen.
- All work that needs to be done to complete a non-negotiable assignment / test / project / etc. is written in pencil and underlined.
- All regular homework is written in pencil.
- When a student writes down a non-negotiable assignment / test / project / etc., he/she is the immediately required to plan the time that will be needed to get that assignment done by breaking it down into smaller parts. For an example, let’s look at “Math Test” on the 28th. It is written in pen and highlighted. This way the student knows that there is something big coming up that needs to be worked on. On the 27th, it says “math review”, which is underlined. On the 26th, it says “math: 10’q”, which is underlined. On the 25th, it says “math- 10’q”, which is underlined, and on the 24th it says “review all math concepts & make cheat sheet”. These are all the steps involved in studying for a math exam.
On the first day of studying, the student will go through all the concepts and pages of the book that are required for the exam. He will make his cheat sheet (if he is not allowed to have one then he will take notes). This way, he has gone through every concept and has started committing it to memory.
On the second day, he will choose 10 examples (half easier, half harder) and do each example and show all his work. He should also bring it to his parents, teacher, tutor, etc., to get it checked.
On the third day, he will choose another 10 examples for review.
On the fourth day, he will review everything by choosing a particular study method to use (not just re-reading it! This is NOT studying!).
Then he is ready to write his math test.
*Please note that this calendar is just an example and the time and methods used for studying vary depending on the needs of each student.