As the school year gets fully underway, along with soccer season, Girl or Boy Scouts, children’s theater and the like, tension in many households can get a bit high. You can probably hear exclamations such as “Hurry up!” “Why aren’t you ready?” “You’re just starting that now?”
Managing a tight and full schedule and getting things done on time is, as we parents know, not always an easy task. It’s a learned skill for most that takes self-discipline, organization and motivation. So the earlier we can guide and teach our kids to learn how to wisely manage their time, the more likely they will adapt to and carry these practices into adulthood.
Time Management Tools
Starting a couple of grades ago, my sixth-grader started receiving larger and more complex school projects. I also noticed the setting up of deadlines usually done by her teachers for rough drafts and project phases was gradually becoming the students’ responsibility. As this self-scheduling began, a struggle for her (and me and my husband) ensued. It became starkly apparent that what was needed was time management, not just of her project schedules, but also her extracurricular activities and downtime.
My daughter had to learn that she had to schedule schoolwork or chores time before she could spend time watching TV or playing. So I found that one of the first lessons in time management was making a checklist of priorities and tasks. This list is something we go over together, especially regarding her schoolwork, to make sure what needs to get done on a particular day is getting done.
In addition to a checklist, a calendar has proven to be a helpful tool – and one that children can start using at an early age. They can write down important dates coming up such as birthdays and holidays. Also, as kids get older and are taking on more responsibilities, they can also use a calendar to prioritize different tasks for the day. A calendar can also be used to tackle large school projects by breaking it down into scheduled, manageable smaller tasks; your child can set incremental goals and create a timeline so that they meet their final due date on time.
Another essential for time management is organization. Organizing skills goes hand in hand with prioritizing. Kids will be better able to recognize what is a priority if they can clearly identify what actually needs to be done. For example, help your child organize their materials for a large project by creating folders for different aspects of the project and have them use envelopes for research note cards and pictures/diagrams. Students can set up envelopes or small shelves for different school subjects.
Time estimation is also great way for kids to understand and learn the actual amounts of time needed to finish certain tasks. If they also are aware of how much time has passed, they’ll be more likely to work efficiently and make the best use of their time.
One of the greatest positives as your child takes control of their schedule and their time is a reduction in stress – theirs and yours. Their large project will seem less overwhelming if they’ve broken it down into scheduled, incremental pieces; taking care of chores one by one as they check them off a checklist will feel satisfying as they get through each one; and organizing schoolwork and time so that there is enough time for fun activities or simply to daydream is also a great way to reduce stress.
Your child can also feel a great sense of pride and confidence as they learn to manage their time and meet their goals, no matter how small or large they might be. It’s esteem-building to become more self-disciplined and responsible. Your child can feel a growing sense of maturity as they themselves take on these responsibilities – with your guidance and support.
Of course, we also know that time management isn’t always foolproof: There are always going to be things that just don’t get done or didn’t turn out as expected. Bearing that in mind as our kids learn how to manage their time themselves is important, and we need to remember to be patient and encouraging. But hopefully with the right support and guidance, the items that do slip through the cracks won’t always be the crucial ones.
Another thing to remember is that kids are kids and in an age of “overprogramming” and early burnout, we parents need to help our kids recognize that slowing down is not such a bad thing either. Sometimes it’s nice to have a chance to smell the roses and take things as they come … as long as their homework is done on time.
Don’t Procrastinate: Teach Your Child Time Management: http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Dont_Procrastinate_Teach_Your/
The Instant Guide to Time Management for Kids: Http://Www.Greatschools.Org/Students/Academic-Skills/1560-Time-Management-For-Kids.Gs
Time Management for Kids: http://www.bhg.com/health-family/parenting-skills/responsible-kids/time-management-for-kids/