The Best Academic Planner for Students With ADHD

The Best Academic Planner for Students With ADHD

Parents and teachers of students with ADHD often see the struggle to plan, and get assignments in on time, leading to frantic searches for the best academic planner for students with ADHD. Typical planners, or to-do lists often aren't enough to support a child's executive function skills.

As two ADHD coaches, students will come to us saying;

“I'm just not great at planning”
“I plan, but it never helps, so why put in the work?”
Those two phrases aren't excuses, they're a reflection of the real fear of failing over and over again. The students who say those things have often tried multiple different planners, calendars, and to-do lists, and are left feeling discouraged because none of them work. It's easy to assume the problem lies in the student. The truth is, the problem lies in the planner itself!

An Ineffective Strategy 

My clients often think the solution is to “just try harder” or “just plan more consistently”, and are surprised when neither of those are offered as an option. 
What I've found is that the student is working hard to plan, but the system they're using to plan isn't working well enough to bring about the desired changes. 
Consistently practicing the wrong thing won't bring the right results!
Once a student with ADHD discovers a planning system or planner that supports executive functions, they get a glimpse of how productive they can be, and the excitement is tangible. 
I've had clients say;
"I keep waiting to fall behind, but I'm not. It feels weird to be caught up and not stressed out!"
"It takes a little work to plan, but it's so much easier and I can enjoy my free time now!"
What does it take to get there? 

The Best Academic Planner for Students With ADHD

The best planner for anyone with ADHD is one that supports as many executive function skills as possible. 

ADHD friendly academic planners can support executive function skills by providing structure, promoting organization, and enhancing time management. 

We recommend any academic planner include the following

  • an area to break tasks into manageable steps
  • a way to visualize how long a project or assignment will take
  • a space to write down deadlines as well as times to work on assignments
  • days broken into hours so other plans can be worked into the homework schedule

Academic planners like these become a crucial aid for students with ADHD, empowering them to navigate academic demands more effectively, ultimately improving their academic performance and overall well-being.

The Actionize It homework bundle can serve as a tool to use with almost any planner (as long as it has slots for the hours of the day) to make it ADHD friendly. An example of all the ways the Actionize It homework bundle supports executive function skills is shown below;

But what are these executive function skills and how do they affect a student?

11 Executive Function Skills (and how they relate to planning)

We each have executive function skills, and those with ADHD often find that these skills are inhibited or delayed. Finding ways to support the acquisition of these skills leads to less procrastination, and more productivity. 

  1. Response Inhibition: This skill involves the ability to resist impulsive reactions and distractions while focusing on the task at hand. Students need to inhibit the urge to engage in unrelated activities or procrastinate when working on their homework.

  2. Working Memory: Working memory allows students to hold and manipulate information temporarily in their minds. It's essential for remembering instructions, managing multiple steps in a homework assignment, and keeping track of deadlines.

  3. Emotional Control: Emotional control is important for students to manage frustration, anxiety, or boredom that may arise while doing homework. The ability to regulate emotions can prevent emotional reactions from derailing their focus.

  4. Sustained Attention: Maintaining focus on a specific task for an extended period is critical for completing homework. Students with strong sustained attention can work on assignments without getting easily distracted.

  5. Task Initiation: This skill involves the ability to start a task promptly. Students who struggle with task initiation may procrastinate or delay starting their homework, leading to time management issues.

  6. Planning and Organization: Effective planning and organization skills are essential for students to break down complex assignments into manageable steps, create schedules, and gather necessary materials before starting their homework.

  7. Time Management: Students need to allocate appropriate time for different homework tasks and balance their workload with extracurricular activities and personal life. Time management skills help them meet deadlines and avoid last-minute rushes.

  8. Goal-Directed Persistence: This skill relates to students' ability to stay committed to completing their homework, even when faced with challenges or setbacks. It involves setting goals and working toward them steadily.
  9. Flexibility: Sometimes, students may need to adapt their plans or strategies if unexpected changes occur. Being flexible allows them to adjust their approach to homework when necessary.
  10. Metacognition: Metacognition refers to the ability to monitor and evaluate one's own thinking processes. Students with strong metacognitive skills can assess their understanding of the material and adjust their studying or homework strategies accordingly.
  11. Working Memory: Students need to remember relevant information, such as assignment instructions or due dates, while working on their homework. Strong working memory helps them retrieve and apply this information effectively.
The best academic planner for students with ADHD will be one that supports as many of theses skills as possible.
One we've used and recommend is;
Out of Order Chaos
If, however, you don't have that planner and want to use something else, there are options! The Actionize It Homework Bundle was designed to serve as a supplement to any planner, making what you already have, ADHD friendly. In this case, the best academic planner for students with ADHD is the one you already have and love, combined with the homework bundle. 
Back to blog