Introducing Independent Work Lists for Students

One of the problems that we hear about over and over again when we are out speaking is that
of students not completing everything that you want them to in any given day. AND keeping
kids on task.

Our solution: Independent Work Lists!

Independent work lists, or Daily Duties as I affectionately call them, can literally change the way
your school day goes.

The “did you do your math yet?” and the “why aren’t you practicing piano right now?” days can
be behind you if you implement and follow through with Independent Work Lists for your
children (and for you…see The Simplified Planner).

I discovered Independent Work Lists over twenty-five years ago when I had three young
students who seemed to need me all the time—along with a preschooler and a baby!

Something had to give.


I had already had success with morning routine charts and chore charts. Why couldn’t we apply
the same concept to the kids’ daily school work? A checklist that kept kids on task when I was
tied up elsewhere? Yes!

I just can’t stress enough the benefits of the Independent Work Lists–for Mom and for the
student. It takes away gray areas of parenting (something crucial that we teach in our parenting
seminars). A chart helps the child become an independent learner. It teaches many character
qualities–perseverance, prioritizing, resourcefulness, responsibility, diligence, timeliness, and
much more.

Yeah, I am pretty crazy about my twenty-five years of Independent Work Lists!

Click on the picture below to download these work lists!

Daily Duties Independent Check Sheets for Students - book cover

General Tips

There are a lot of decisions to make in developing your children’s morning routine lists. Will it
have EVERYTHING on it or will it only have the child’s independent work on it? Will it have
chores, music practice, etc., or will it just have “school”?

What type of list will you use—a chart with pictures; a pocket approach (like for younger
children with chores); a chart on the wall; a printed sheet on a clipboard; a lesson planner (like
teachers use)? Does it matter for different ages?

In this e-book/download, I hope to answer some of these questions as well as give you sample
charts that you can print off and use with your students. But first let me answer some of those
questions based on the ages of your kids.

Here are some general tips and guidelines that I used for my kids’ Independent Work Lists
(followed later at this blog by a list of suggestions for Elementary kids and a list of suggestions for older kids).


(1) Explain to your child that this is his daily accountability list.

He is to get these things done each day.

Hint: We taught our children from their earliest recollection of school
that school is their occupation. It was what they were supposed to be about every day.

No questions asked. No exceptions (unless we parents wanted an exception for sickness
or family trips, etc.–in other words, the child doesn’t choose to do school or not do

(2) This is kind of another subject, but it fits here as well: A child should not go to basketball practice, Girl Scouts, youth group, or any other activity if he doesn’t do his school.


We have so many parents come up to us at conventions and say, “I just can’t get
my fifteen year old to finish his school each day, and he keeps getting further and
further behind.”

Then we ask, “Does he go to sports practice in the afternoon? Does he
go to youth group that night?’ etc. etc.

None of those things should ever happen if he
doesn’t do his school. School is non-optional.


(3) Do your part to be sure that charts are updated, printed, and ready.

I know from personal experience that if we are lax in this–they become lax real quick!


(4) Enlist your husband’s help to enforce the lists when necessary.

(5) Be sure that what you put on the list is truly independent (and this can change from
month to month as skills are increased).

(6) Use whatever method works for your family.

Some people like the list for each block of time. Some like the list for each subject area. Some people like to have kids report in
every once in a while; others do fine reporting in before “signing off” for the day.

(7) Speaking of signing off for the day from school, be sure that everything is done before
this happens.

(Do not let the child determine he’s signing off without getting signed off
by you.)

Follow us over the next week or so as I give specific tips for elementary children and specific tips for older children—and Independent Work Lists!



For a downloadable product with a dozen charts to use with various ages, check the store here!

Video: Independent Work Lists

Audio: Independent Work Lists

Audio: Using Your Planner to Get More Done

Audio: Overcoming Parenting Obstacles

Video: Using Consequence Pies




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