Dear Dr. Fournier:
In a recent article, you mentioned the Strategizer, which as best I can tell is a day planner that you developed. However, you also called it an “anticipation” tool. What does that mean? How is it any different from an organizer I can get from any local office supply store? I have tried getting my daughter to use a planner for years, but after being gung ho for a week or so, she always reverts to the way she was doing things before. Can the Strategizer help?
This is a very common question I have been asked over the years by parents when I start their children on the Strategizer. We are so used to seeing common variants on the same sort of planners and organizers that we question what could possibly be in this one that enables “anticipation.”
The Strategizer is best thought of as a collection of instructions that I have found work to help children of all ages to address all the intangibles that they are expected to apply daily at school, yet were either partially taught, or not taught at all. This unfortunate reality belongs to no one in particular, as many times both parents and the school system assume that it is the other’s responsibility to teach the fundamental life responsibility skills.
The reason I make the claim that the Strategizer is superior to calendars, planners and organizers is because the Strategizer is constructed in such a way as to actually teach the user. A traditional calendar or planner assumes that you already know how to effectively use it. However, I have found that this is rarely the case. I call traditional calendars and planners “parking lots,” because they are places where assignments and appointments end up without any plan whatsoever for the completion or the meeting of the requirements the student has written down. There is no anticipation of how to prepare for assignments, prioritize work so that a student will manage his daily work list effectively, break long-term work into manageable (and doable) chunks, or provide instruction in a way that forces the students to answer questions about the way they approach their work.
I have different versions of the Strategizer that I give to students depending on their age and grade that are meant to develop responsibility, self-reliance, entrepreneurship and visioning, preferably in that order. This gave me the liberty to give older students the pre-college skills they need, while leaving the elementary and middle school versions to ensure that the appropriate foundation is laid so that transitions in the levels of classroom work will be manageable for students by developing the habits required to be responsible and self-reliant.
This may seem like a lot, and it can be. However, the five strategies that I consider to be universal – or core strategies – are present in all levels of the Strategizer. Each student needs to learn to:
- Prioritize assignments by expected outcome
- Anticipate for the long term with flexible planning
- Break long-term assignments into doable chunks
- Organize tests and papers effectively
- Develop a Home Workplan
WHAT TO DO
Michelle, hopefully this answers some of the questions that you and other parents out there sent to me over the last week about the Strategizer concepts. I feel that it is a truly unique approach to common problems that will ease parent/child conflicts in the home, decrease stress, teach the intangibles, and lay the foundation for success in both school and in life.
Most of the children I have seen during the last thirty years are more than capable of taking on school’s challenges. To do so, however, they need to know how to take these challenges on. Giving them a step-by-step solution to today’s challenge does not prepare them to know how to face and overcome the next one. So many parents feel they have tried to help their children, only to see their great ideas fail. Children need to learn how to take on their own problems. Different solutions will apply for different children; after all, they are all unique. Telling them what to do is no longer adequate for twenty first century students who will be expected to take on and solve twenty first century problems.
I am sending you a complimentary Self-reliance Strategizer kit for your daughter. Please feel free to send me both of your comments and observations as she progresses in learning to be a Strategizer! I wish the best of luck to both of you.