BrainSTARS: Planning

Jeanne E. Dise-Lewis, PhD, Margaret Lohr Calvery, PhD, and Hal C. Lewis, PhD, BrainSTARS
BrainSTARS: Planning

Adult help is required to anticipate and organize events, projects, and chores.

Use everyday activities to build skills

1. Help your child predict if an activity will be hard or easy, and how long she thinks it will take to complete.  When finished, evaluate accuracy and provide constructive feedback, such as “Now we know that we always need to allow fifteen minutes to feed the pets and collect your materials before leaving for Cub Scouts.”

2. To help anticipate and plan necessary preparations, use dinnertime to talk about upcoming family events.

Change the environment

1. Often a child’s emotional reaction interferes with the completion of a plan.  Help him talk about what happened, when it happened, and the associated feelings that interfered with his plan.  Anticipate other situations where his emotions may interfere, provide supports for coping with these emotions or alter the plan to facilitate success.  

2. A child’s ability to plan successfully will be inconsistent.  Therefore, adult assistance and support will be required until he demonstrates consistent ability to plan independently.

3. Provide your student with a clear organizational structure for his reports and essays. 

4. Before a child begins a report, help  him:

  • Collect sufficient background information.
  • List all the words and phrases that should be included.
  • Outline key points and ideas.

Teach New Skills

1. If a child gives up when his first attempt fails, provide another opportunity for successful completion. 

2. Your child will need adult assistance to reach a goal by identifying and following a clear sequence of sub steps. Each step in the sequence should be specific:

  • Help your child estimate how long each step will take.
  • Help him identify needed materials or resources for each step.
  • Write these down on a simple, clear worksheet or calendar.
  • Check your child’s calendar every day to see that he is successfully completing the steps. As each step is completed, he can cross it off or put a sticker on it.

3. For long-range projects, teach your child to use a large planning calendar. Start from the due date and backward-chain the steps necessary to have the project completed on time.      

See other BrainSTARS articles.

Posted on BrainLine October 1, 2013.

From BrainSTARS, Brain Injury: Strategies for Teams And Re-education for Students, © 2002 Jeanne Dise-Lewis, PhD. Used with permission. The manual is available in English and Spanish. For more information or to order copies, call 720.777.5470 or A short video on how to use the BrainSTARS manual is available at