Do you ever wonder why students jump around project to project without finishing?
Teaching students or your children to prioritize and complete projects in order is a doable goal. One easy way is to write a list of things to complete and teach them to complete it in order written. In the elementary classroom during a block of work time, I write down a list of things on the board that need to be done. I teach my students that my lists are always meant to be completed starting at the top. When you complete the first item, you move on to the second item, etc. Sometimes I draw a line dividing the top part of the list from the bottom part. This is usually a visual reminder that the things above the line must be completed and the things below the line are things to do if you get time or if you actually complete all the above.
I’m not fond of long lists of things to do, but occasionally this is necessary on a “catch up” day where students are in various stages of completion on projects or your family is cleaning up the house after the holidays. I teach them to prioritize by writing the list in order. If they have already completed the first 3 things, then they begin their work on the 4th item. Sometimes I ask students to put a checkmark or their initials by the item they are working on just so I can gauge where everyone is at. Another way to move this to be more independent is to have a student write a to do list and you check over the order and help them prioritize.
In middle school and high school when a student has late or missing work, I have them add that to their weekly agenda in spots where they think they can reasonably have time to complete it. I also teach them to make notes to themself in their agenda if a project stalls or if they have a question to ask their teacher. That way they can move on to the next item.
I even have a tip for adults! If you are drowning in sticky notes and unfinished projects, get a calendar or try Asana. List your tasks and give yourself some deadlines. Then start completing them one at a time. If you cannot finish that day, move it to another day when you think you will have the time. You can smile more and sigh less. Having order in your life does not mean you cannot be flexible, but that’s for another blog post I plan to dedicate to my friend Megan R.
Table Talk: How does your family or classroom create “to do” lists? How do you prioritize them?