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For Families

How to Help Your Child with Daily Routines: Planning, Organizing, and Time Management

Woman kneeling and buttoning the collar of her son's shirt.

Hannah Larson

Licensed Professional Counselor

Last modified 19 Mar 2024

Published 18 Mar 2024

Executive functioning skills are the skills needed by a person for controlling and managing their thoughts, actions, and emotions to achieve a goal. 

If your child struggles with thinking through a task, organizing, planning, or focusing, know it is not a matter of your child being disobedient but a skill deficit.

With Cadey, you can learn techniques that will make a real difference for your child. 

Executive functioning strategies for planning and organizing 

Planning and organizing allow your child to create a road map for themselves to reach a goal. Goal setting includes figuring out the steps to complete a task from beginning to end. Your child also needs to be able to gather the information and materials needed to complete the task. 

If your child struggles with planning and organizing, here are some things you can do to help. 

Provide organizational tools

Organizational tools are planners, whiteboards, calendars, a particular place where items belong, phone apps, timers, etc.  

Work on one assignment at a time

If your child struggles with executive functioning skills, you may notice they try to work on all their assignments at once or stare at their backpack because they don’t know where to start. 

You may also notice this with chores. It can look like not starting, or it can look like your child starting every one of their chores, but nothing gets done. 

Use the whiteboard strategy and timers to help your child organize their assignments and household tasks (see below for an example). With your child, organize tasks from most important to least important. Allow your child to choose which task to start on, and sometimes it’s best to start on the task that the child most enjoys. Once they have momentum, they can move on to the rest of the list.

Break up more significant assignments into smaller, more manageable tasks. Look at the assignment with your child and plan what they will work on each day. 

Have conversations with your child about what completion looks like

Children sometimes struggle to know what it means for a task to be complete or successful. Children may also struggle to know what it means to give their best effort. 

As a part of everyday life, talk about what it means to finish a task. 

For example, empty the dishwasher with your child and discuss the steps needed to finish this task successfully. For example, when unloading the dishwasher, it looks like it is empty of clean dishes. Talk about the proper place for each item as you remove it from the dishwasher. 

With math homework, talk about how success is doing math homework every night for twenty minutes and continuing to try even when frustrated. Your child can ask their teacher for help if they cannot figure it out on their own. 

If you see your child is not getting started on their own, you can provide what we call a jumpstart. Begin the task side by side with your child, and say something like, “Let’s get started on this together.”As your child starts working, you can gradually pull back on your support.

Try the whiteboard strategy 

This whiteboard strategy can be powerful to help your older child or teenager organize their homework assignments. The most important aspect of this is deciding what work will get done today. Once your child knows when they get to stop, they are much more likely to get started.

Use the big red line

Look at the list of tasks on the left side of the board. Together with your child, decide which tasks need to get done tonight. Then, draw a big red line to indicate when your child gets to stop. The biggest mistake we see parents make is to keep adding assignments after the child is done. Using a technique like this will avoid overwhelm and increase your child’s sense of accomplishment.

Whiteboard strategy for homework organization

On the left side of the whiteboard

  • List out all your child’s tasks
  • Estimate the amount of time required for each task 
  • Have a checkbox your child can check off when the assignment is complete 

In the middle of the whiteboard

  • List out the assignments that are in progress and how much time is left on each
  • List out all the assignments that have just been completed in the done column

On the right side of the whiteboard

  • Put down the number of hours available each night to work on homework assignments
  • Add up the total time available for the week

Whiteboard strategy for long-term projects

You can use a whiteboard to write down the steps for long-term projects with your child. 

What to include on the whiteboard 

  • Possible writing or project topics
  • The deadlines for each part of the assignment
  • A list of the pieces to complete today and this week

Necessary materials

  • What materials does your child need? 
  • Where will they get them? 
  • When will your child get them? 
  • Does your child need to ask you or another caregiver for help in getting the materials?  

Request Cadey

Would you like to know how to implement these strategies with your child? Request Cadey as a benefit from your employer to receive videos and a more detailed summary of the strategies mentioned.