elem boy climbingIf you were to ask Casey (age 9), “What are you going to do tomorrow?” he would probably reply, “I don’t know. I’ll wait and see.” Sometimes this attitude causes trouble for him.

When it is time to go to school, he is hardly ever ready. Most school mornings he is racing around to comb his hair and find his shoes. He arrives late at his friends’ birthday parties and when his mother had a birthday, he did not think to make her a card or give her a present.

Whenever the neighborhood boys talk about what sports they want to play next season or what they will be doing on Sunday, Casey cannot think of anything to say.

When Casey told his aunt about it, she had an idea that she hoped would strengthen his planning skills.

Notice these things in the story below about how Casey’s aunt enters into his world:

  • He doesn’t know about tomorrow so she uses the language of today.
  • He’s a fun-loving boy so she makes up a game.

Planning is the same as closing your eyes and pretending–like playing a game.

birthday cakeLet’s pretend that today is your birthday. How many people are at your party? Who are they? What games are you playing? What are your friends doing at the party? What day of the week is it? Is it morning? afternoon?  What is everyone eating? When you open your presents, what is inside?  She repeats the game with other events like Christmas and vacation.

Casey learns that he has the ability to think about any day he chooses.

Pretend that it is tomorrow (a school day with a 7:30 carpool pick-up) and pretend that you are doing what you need to do to be on time without hurrying. How are you waking up (i.e. alarm clock or family member)? What time are you getting up? What are you eating for breakfast? Are you taking a shower? Where is your backpack (shoes, comb)? While Casey is still imagining tomorrow in the scene he created…..

…his aunt asks, What did you do to be sure you were ready for the carpool?

She waits while Casey tries to answer, and in so doing, he tells himself what to do to be ready on time. At one point she helped him realistically re-work his plan when she sensed that he was far off-track.

But wait–there’s more. Next week: How Casey’s self-talk helps him plan successfully.

Tweetable: How children can learn that planning is the same as closing your eyes and pretending, like playing a game. Click to Tweet

Casey’s aunt said she learned these principles from psychologist Candace Backus before Ms. Backus passed earlier this year.