The Work Smart Academic Planner Review

One of the most common reactions I get to homeschooling is that of parents saying that their child won’t work for them. Usually, those kids aren’t doing great in school either, and it all may be an executive skills deficit.

The Work-Smart Academic Planner is the gold standard of teaching the skills that students (grades 6-12) need to master, and it’s their planner for an entire school year. I’m going to use it alongside my eighth-grader as a sort of ongoing study skills seminar.

Parents/ Teachers can access their user guide to determine how they can present the material to the student. After reading through the planner and teacher materials, it looks easy to implement.

Section 1 includes an Executive Skills questionnaire/checklist/ tip sheets that are useful for both teacher and student. I’m going to copy the questionnaire and answer it for myself, and then we can both look through the strategies and keep each other on task. This section is going to take a while to dig into as it includes these common problems and then the approach you’ll need to draw from to improve:

  • Response Inhibition
  • Working Memory
  • Emotional Control
  • Task Initiation
  • Sustained Attention
  • Planning
  • Flexibility
  • Organization

Section 2 is Goal Setting. Again- great checklists and lots of suggestions that aren’t the same ideas you may have encountered in the past. See also the authors’ Coaching Students with Executive Skills Deficits, which provides additional resources and guidance for professionals working with this population, plus the authoritative Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, Second Edition. Also from Dawson and Guare: Smart but Scattered parenting guides and a self-help guide for adults.

Section 3 is possibly my favorite. Strategies For Success includes:

  • Studying for Tests
  • Five Paragraph Essay Template
  • Long Term Project planning Form (!)
  • Reading Comprehension Strategies
  • How to write a Summary
  • Managing Distractions
  • and more

That’s all before you get to the actual planner that they can use daily for the entire school year. It’s a slim book despite all that it contains. There are Daily/Weekly and Monthly Planner pages that all include the same terminology that you are familiar with after you’ve completed the first half of the book.

I’ll check back in and let you all know how it went for us in a few weeks. I decided to push the review out now before we get too far into the school year. Trust me, I’ve paid for an ADHD counselor, and this $15 may be the best money you spend this school year.

Read More Buy Less

This the season for Home School Planning. I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned in the last 18 years at this gig. Homeschool success is in no way influenced by how much money you spend on it. You don’t need a Pinterest like school room or even new materials.

Go Ahead and Procrastinate

Probably not what you expect to hear. Here are some things you can do instead of shopping:

  • Wait until you’ve finished everything on hand. Kids change and improve so much over short amounts of time that waiting until you’ve finished is best.
  • Use the downtime to reflect and analyze what truly did and didn’t work this year.
  • Read and learn to be a better teacher. Invest in yourself.

While I don’t condone actually buying curriculum years ahead, I do think you should have an idea where you want to end up with your children’s education. You can even write out different scenarios. Then when you go to order for the next year, you aren’t just buying whatever has a flurry of activity around it.

As far as any long term plans? Think of them as just rough drafts. So, what can you do after you’ve got a couple drafts and the materials you’ll use right away?

Prepare to Teach

  • If you aren’t schooling all Summer, get next years books out and start watching videos on the concepts that will come up this year. This is especially helpful in Math and there are tons of free videos out there. Khan Academy is my favorite. I buy a lot of materials from Memoria Press and they also sell video lessons for much of their curriculum. I’ve already starting streaming those now.
Remind yourself that you are awesome.
  • Choose a Homeschooling Planner- start figuring out a schedule for your school days. You can buy a planner or just use a spiral notebook.

Right now I use a homeschool planner even though I also purchased lesson plans. Instructor’s Guides are awesome and save time and energy, but they are not all you need.

Why do I buy plans? Because there is no need to reinvent the wheel. However, your wheel may look different than mine. Ready-made plans still need to be customized for your situation. Transferring the plans into your planner allows you to work at whatever pace works best for each child. Why not just check off what you’ve done on the plans you purchased? You can. But I don’t. I like to incorporate review, memory work, and sometimes I can see that the next thing on the pre-printed plans just isn’t needed for that particular kid. By writing out each day myself, I can take just what I need from them.

Like I said above you don’t need an expensive planner, I’ve had great success with a plain old spiral notebook. Every night I’d write down the next things and then the kids would have a list when they woke up in the morning and know exactly what to do.

My final homeschooling tip today is simply to be prepared. You and your kids need to know what is expected of each person in the family to ensure that homeschooling gets done, everyone eats, and is reasonably clean. It may sound simple, but it takes dedication to see it through.