If you are you looking for a simple way to dramatically boost your child's academic success and unload some of that parental stress, we've got just the tool for you, and a tool that no child's toolbelt should be without.
We created a planner specifically designed to boost self-esteem, cultivate executive function, and promote school success for those struggling with focus and attention.
Does someone have to have FastBraiin/ADHD to benefit from this planner? Absolutely not! This planner is for anyone wanting to increase focus, organization, and productivity in school.
What are the benefits of FastBraiin's school Planner?
Before we jump into the details of our planner, it's important to understand the why of our planner, and what specific benefits you will get out of it. Without understanding the why behind it, you will be less likely to implement and experience the overall progress and benefits that our planner can bring. So what are some key benefits to the FastBraiin Planner?
Decreases Anxiety and Stress
What parent doesn't want less anxiety and stress, for themselves and their child? Our brains can only hold on to a limited amount of information at any given time. What's interesting though, is that the brain works really hard to not forget important to-do's or assignments. It does this automatically and that creates a cognitive load and stress that we might not even be aware of.
Writing tasks and assignments down actually unloads the brain from having to hold on to that information, and this frees up valuable mental energy that can instead be used to focus on getting school or other priorities accomplished.
Not to mention, when students plan they are less likely to forget their homework or forget to study for a test, and this relieves them from many stressful situations in school that can produce anxiety.
Increases Executive Functioning
Executive functioning is like the CEO of the brain. The control center responsible for seeing and planning, discerning priorities, and making decisions. For many ADHD students, it is a difference in executive function that is causing much of their trouble. This planner helps develop a student’s understanding and ability to act and respond to their environment more appropriately.
Executive function is what helps us zoom out from the trees and see the forest. Planners help students zoom out of the details and see the big picture, to assess where they are, and monitor where they are going.
This planner will help children prioritize, which is a major skill to be learned! And one that will be very important as they grow up and enter the workplace. Most of us understand a to-do list, but what we don't all see, is that every task does not have equal value. The ability to prioritize is the ability to see a list of things to do and make the appropriate value judgment on each task. The planner helps students sort through the noise of all they could do, to focus on the one thing or a few things that they need to do.
Provides Important Structure
Because ADHD students often lack internal structure, it's important for them to have a greater sense of external structure. FastBraiin kids thrive with structure. They do certainly need time to spread their creative, energetic wings, but they also need to know the boundaries, when to start, and when to stop. It's actually inside of a structure that allows their abilities to best shine. A planner helps give students a sense of structure, which translates to peace of mind and freedom of expression.
Increases Mood and Confidence
We believe it is absolutely critical to cultivate positive emotions in those with ADHD. That's the core of our FastBraiin method, and why we've changed the label from ADHD to FastBraiin, in order to begin shifting one's perspective from being steeped in negative to being filled with positivity. We must fight the stigma at every level, and nothing is more damaging than one’s own view of their identity (Dr. Jim, MD, founder of FastBraiin, explores this concept in his new book, Flipping ADHD on Its Head: How to Turn Your Child's "Disability" into Their Greatest Strength). Our planner seeks to remind and cultivate a child’s relationship with their own mind in positive and constructive ways.
Our planner also helps cultivate positive feelings by giving the student a space to reflect and identify positive things in their life. They develop positive feelings as they develop a sense of achievement and gratitude. The process helps shift one's orientation from a focus on what they don't have to the blessings that they do have.
ADHD students are often plagued with negativity and a feeling of "I can't" and "I didn't." This negativity has a host of consequences not only for academics but for all of life as well. The planner helps attack this head-on, not just by cultivating gratitude, but by helping students be prepared, not forget their homework, or forget to study for an upcoming quiz. As the planner is followed, even if not perfectly, a sense of accomplishment and confidence begins creeping into their minds, and pretty soon that "I can't" turns into "I can" and "I did."
In addition, the cumulative effect of staying organized tends to create a sense of peace, security, and overall well-being. Planning the day, week and month tends to create a sense of control in an often uncertain and unpredictable world. Planning also boosts confidence and helps the student take a proactive posture at facing the future rather than simply being reactive to the challenges that come.
Builds the Parent/Child Relationship
It's easy for parents to feel out of the loop with what's going on with their children, and often sorting through papers and trying to get information from their children can be challenging. At the same time, children aren't meant to walk through school alone. They need their parents to be with them, to understand what's going on, and to walk by their side every step of the way. Regardless of what children might say, children need their parents. Of course, depending on their age, parents can adjust to give the appropriate amount of space and independence.
Our planner, however, provides a context by which parents can engage with their child, understand at a glance what is going on at school, and how the child is thinking through and preparing to accomplish school or life demands. Students need someone to help them think through time and priority and to give feedback when necessary. The planner then becomes a wonderful bridge between the parent, child, and school.
With a greater understanding of school demands, parents can spend less time guessing or searching for what their child needs to do, and spend more time connecting with their child in meaningful ways.
Raises Grades and Overall School Performance
We didn't list better grades first because it's not the first thing we focus on. We believe it is far more critical that your child develop confidence, self-esteem, and learn the skills of planning and prioritizing than it is to make a specific grade. That said, we cannot deny the value of better school performance. After all, that might be why you are reading this blog.
Grades are important, and we can't pretend that they aren't. Our school planner, if followed, will help your child have greater success in school. Grades will improve, and an improvement in school almost always translates to a boost in self-esteem and confidence.
School is often not too difficult, it's just difficult to manage, stay on top of work, and be prepared for quizzes, tests, and projects. Organization is key in school performance, and that's exactly what a planner provides. It provides a context where important school and learning rhythms can be developed and maintained.
What is in FastBraiin’s ADHD Focus Planner?
The planner system is built on two alternating views, both a two-week view and a daily view. The two-week view works together with the daily view and vice versa. Both are critical and form the complete system together.
The Two-Week View
Catch a more birdseye view of what is coming and stay prepared with our two-week view. We decided on a two-week view over a month's view in order to give students a little more ability to focus on what was immediately relevant. Use this space to mark down important events or deadlines to be aware of, like upcoming tests and quizzes.
Track goals and stay focused with a space to write down important goals. These could be short-term or long-term. Studies show simply the process of writing down goals has significant benefits. Even helping the individual to get in the mindset of setting goals is an invaluable benefit.
It's important for FastBraiin students (who have difficulty with delayed gratification) to help them hold their goals/rewards in front of them. Our planner helps students connect the dots from "meaningless quizzes" to goals by reminding them of why they are studying and what they are aiming at.
Build habits that will bring dividends down the road. Habits are incredibly important and are responsible for so much of what we actually do (and we aren't even aware of them!). The great thing is, when we implement just one habit, it tends to have a positive impact on the rest of our lives as well. Having your child focus on building one habit, like exercise, or doing homework before bed, or eating healthier can have a massive impact.
We've also included a notes section for personal reflection on the past or to orient for the future. This can also be a place for parents to write personal notes of encouragement.
The Daily View
Our schedule section helps keep the student oriented and understanding all that is happening in the day, including afterschool activities--which means less stress and greater confidence.
Our homework section allows the student to write down all assignments that are given and any work that needs to be done that night. We've also included a priority column to help the child choose what is most important and to help them make the choice to focus on that first.
We have a daily journal box where important self-reflection and positive emotions can be developed. The child begins with thinking about one thing that they did well that day and then considers one thing they could do better tomorrow. This reflection and retooling exercise is an invaluable part of growth and progress. Finally, we end on a note of thanksgiving to help cultivate positive emotions and gratitude.
The daily checklist is a box of the most common things that a student needs to do on a daily basis to keep this system working. We've built in a piece of our FastBraiin study method that includes a quick glance at the day's material. Getting ready for the following day and checking the two-week view is critical to know what's coming up. This box teaches children valuable study and organizational principles.
We have also made space for a straightforward to-do list. Have students make and keep track of important to-dos for the day.
Then we've allowed an opportunity for the student to rate their own personal score for the day. This is an easy way for a child to summarize how they believe they are doing or to rate their level of effort, and can also be a great section to foster further conversation with a parent and help a parent quickly glance at a week's performance.
And finally, we have a notes section to jot down any important comments, encouragements, quotes, or valuable feedback on the day. It may be helpful to use the notes section as a commentary on the personal score. Why was the score low? Why was the score high? You can use the notes section however you like, either by the student or parent.
How do I get started?
The first thing you will need to do after you download the planner is to print it out. You can keep the sheets loose or you can consider some sort of binding option or sticking it loosely in a folder.
You may choose to keep the two-week view and the daily views mixed together or separate. In the document we've prepared, the template has been arranged all together in a 10-week cycle.
It may be helpful to go ahead and mark down the dates that all the sheets will correspond to.
A few other tips as you get started that may be helpful.
- Before beginning, make sure to have a conversation with your child and help them understand the value of a planner. The more on board they are the better. You want them seeing this as a blessing, not a burden.
- Set expectations for how and when your child may fill out the planner, and if and how you will be involved in the process. Also set expectations for how you will be involved in checking up on the planner's success (you don't have to express this to your child, but it will be helpful for you to determine what frequency you will want to check-in (i.e. once a week, twice a week, etc.).
- Be prepared for setbacks, missed days, or feeling like it's not working. Help your child persevere. Give it a longer track record than you might first think it will take to see progress. You might see immediate results, or benefits may come a bit later. If your child misses days, no problem. Just get back on it. Discuss what went wrong and try to learn and grow, that's what this is about. The planner is designed to help the process of improving, not arriving at some fixed point.
You may also find that the planner goes very well with Dr. Jim's latest book, Flipping ADHD on Its Head: How to Turn Your Child's "Disability" into Their Greatest Strength, where he goes into great detail about the importance of positivity, a comprehensive approach to ADHD, and practical tips for success in school and all of life.