Program to Thrive Academic Planner

     Based upon both my experience teaching, and training in Executive Function Skills at Rush Neurobehavioral Center in Chicago, Program to Thrive is designed to maximize the success of students with specific executive function deficits. Namely, those students with challenges in the areas of organization, planning, follow through, initiative, prioritization, and other time management skills.  

     What separates Program to Thrive from every other planner is the procedure necessary to use the planner effectively and maximize efficiency. The single most important thing to know about my academic planner is that the majority of the planning effort occurs in the first top section, focusing on the series of blank lines listed across the top of each page. 

      For individuals with executive function challenges, the traditional time/date planner can be overwhelming.  A big blank sheet with time slots is too much and these students shut down before they even begin. Program to Thrive breaks tasks down into smaller bites thereby making each item achievable. Additionally, the pen-and-paper-approach of the Program to Thrive Academic planner provides kinesthetic reinforcement to benefit students.  My planner intentionally omits all unnecessary script, design, pictures, etc. thereby reducing all visual clutter. 

     I have home educated all ten of my children for the past seventeen years. I have used dozens of planners, digital or otherwise, for the past twenty years. Once past the glitter and excitement of a new approach, none of the planners seemed to help me organize and follow through.  Program to Thrive changed that for me, and for each of my children.  As I used the Program to Thrive approach in my homeschool I saw higher grades, fewer reminders, prompt assignments and follow through at an all-time high. Each of my children have Executive Function challenges, and eight children have dyslexia. Program to Thrive enhanced both their academic performance and their quality of life significantly. I highly recommend Program to Thrive Academic Planner as a portal to success for each of your students. 


      Each column of lines across the top of each planner page will represent sections of your life.  If you are a college student, you may have a column for each class, then a separate column for self, friends, errands, tasks, etc.  For myself I label the sections “homeschool,” “tasks,” “calls,” “self,” “house,” and “finance.”  The titles to these columns may change over time; in fact, they are designed to change as you persevere through this planning regimen.

     First, take a minute and think about your own life and what categories your responsibilities can be divided into.

     Once you have a title for each of your sections, start to fill in the lines below that respective title. What are all the tasks that you hope to achieve relative to just that one area of your life?  For example, in my “homeschool” column I might have, “order additional workbook for Declan,” or, “write our sight word cards,” etc.  Under “household” I might have, “replace furnace filters,” or, “buy water softener pellets.” Once you have completed your first titled category to your satisfaction, move over to the second column title, and ask yourself which specific tasks within that titled area you hope to accomplish?  Complete this cycle for each column you have. 

     Next, after each column is completed to your satisfaction, using a colored pencil go back and write the initial of the day of week you hope to accomplish that line item.  For example, I know that homeschool Mondays are tricky, so I cannot achieve many of the outside tasks on a Monday.  However, on Tuesdays many of the children attend piano lessons so I would be able to accomplish more tasks. I might put an “M” for Monday by just two items, but a “T” for Tuesday by four specific items.  Be sure that your assignments to specific days are reasonable and achievable.  

     Now that all of the above steps are completed you may begin to use the day and time section of the Program to Thrive planner located on the lower two thirds of each page.  First, start with known items. For example, I know school starts at 9:00 a.m. each day, and we have lunch at 12:00. I know on Tuesdays the kids are gone from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. to piano.  I know I tutor another child on Thursdays at 2:30, etc.  Fill in those items in your schedule that are fixed.

     Then, go back to your lists and find the items with an “M” on them for Monday.  Fit them into the blank sections of your schedule making sure your expectations are reasonable.  If you learn you have too many items designated on Monday, switch one over to another day that has fewer tasks. Complete each day of the week similarly. Give your planner an overview to double check your Program to Thrive methodology. 


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