It's no secret that I loooooove using Task Cards to keep my kids on task. It helps to motivate them...to propel them forward into independence...and provides a sense of security for "what comes next" in their day. But, as in all areas of life, there is a season.
A season for Task Cards.
A season for something else.
Since catapulting herself into middle school, Sweetie Pea has officially moved past the usefulness of Task Cards.
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She still needs something to help her organize her day...something that will allow her to prioritize with purpose. But, she needs something a bit more tailor-made...a bit more practical for her age and growing maturity.
So, her Task Cards have been replaced with a student planner. It's nothing special. Just a simple calendar-style notebook. But, it's one that affords enough space to create her own method...her own rhythm to her day.
Here's how her week gets scheduled...
A skeletal calendar
Before the school year even began, I etched out a basic school calendar in her planner. I marked off any "specials" in both the month-at-a-glance pages and the weekly planning pages. These special things included days off of school, co-op days, piano lessons, holidays...anything that would prevent her from doing "the norm." Having a skeletal calendar in place gives her clear vision for what the weeks and months will look like and reminds her NOT to schedule school assignments at those times.
From plan to planner
Since I am a "plan the entire school year out in advance" kinda girl, I already have all of her assignments written out in my own planner...along with a whole lot of other information that I don't necessarily want her to be digging through. So, every Monday...or Sunday if we are really on the ball...she and I sit down to have a weekly planning meeting. She takes out her planner and I take out mine.
She copies a week's worth of assignments into her planner including her individual work, the two subjects that she does with me (Spelling and English), and subjects/assignments we all do together as a family like history, science, art, etc. If it is group work or work done with me, she mostly just writes the subject name down with very little specifics. Individual work is listed with page or chapter numbers (if applicable).
A mentor moment
After her week is given space on the page, we chat for a few minutes. I use this as a time to give her direction. To give her feedback. To listen. To answer questions. To mentor but not meddle into her learning. She shares about things she is discovering and gets my opinion about her latest independent project. It is a short and simple time but one that refuels both her and I in this new season of our relationship.
With a plan in place, her week takes on direction. She is free to manage her time however she would like as long as all of the items on her daily list get "checked off" by the end of the school day. Since she still participates in several group/family subjects, a portion of her time is determined by me and my schedule. When we are ready to begin a group subject, she knows she must stop whatever she is doing and come join the group. That being said, I do my best to respect her time by scheduling our group subjects at natural "starts" in the day...times I know she hasn't begun any individual work yet...like at the very beginning of the school day or right after lunch. Most of the time, I follow one of these group times with Spelling and Language. Since she is already sitting with me for a group subject, it is easy to have her continue with me for those two task. Other times, depending upon how long the group subject was, I tell her to take a quick break so that I can have one too. And then, we do Spelling and Language together.
The realization that SHE controls the length of her day and can be done with school just as soon as she has completed her list, naturally motivates her to keep on task. I never EVER have to nag her or beg her to get her work done. NOT EVER. She starts her day running and dives into her work with fervor. When she feels she needs a break, she takes one. When she wants to "power through", she does. As I had hoped, the Task Cards gave her a taste of the freedom that comes from a well-ordered schedule. The student planner has broadened that freedom to include independence and self-direction.