“Oh no, I forgot to study for my test!”
“I can’t finish my homework – it’s getting late!”
As your child progresses in his/her learning journey and the amount of homework and activities increases, chances are, you would have heard one of these phrases from him/her at one point or another.
Guiding your child in the basics of time management will go a long way in helping him/her to become more productive and efficient in learning.
The Importance of Time Management for Kids
Teaching time management to kids provides them with the thinking skill needed to prioritise and gauge the amount of time needed to complete their tasks and activities. This empowers them to complete activities on time as they learn to manage and follow a schedule.
Having time management skills also allows your child to keep track of his/her own efforts and actions, as well as being aware of the urgency to complete tasks on time and to be able to follow step-by-step procedures.
As a whole, teaching time management plays a crucial role in charting your child’s academic success.
Getting Started with Teaching Time Management to Kids
1. Start a List and Prioritise
With so many things on your child’s plate, things can seem overwhelming at first. Help your child to create a list of things that he/she needs to do to get things into perspective. Having a list to start off with also helps him/her to focus on getting the most urgent and important tasks done on time.
To extend from here, you can also teach your child to sort the items on his/her list according to priority and the nature of the tasks. For example, the school-related tasks can be grouped together while the household and recreational activities give him/her something fun to look forward to after that.
Having said that, do also allow room for flexibility as tasks and timelines may change as your child works on them. The most important thing is that your child has given his/her best efforts throughout the process.
2. Stay on Task
As your child learns the ropes of time management, guide him/her to stay on task too. Set a specific time frame that he/she should spend on a particular task and when the time’s up, guide your child to move on to the next task on the schedule no matter how involved he/she is on that current task. When teaching time management to kids, emphasise the consequences of straying for even a few minutes off schedule and the effect this will have on your child’s progress.
3. Minimise Distractions
Staying focused on the list of tasks on hand is easier said than done – especially when there are multiple sources of distractions around. How well your child is able to focus boils down to how successful he/she is at controlling his/her urge to respond to his/her environment.
You can help your child to create a conducive environment by clearing the physical and mental clutter. When it comes to reducing physical clutter, having a dedicated space for study time that is free of mess allows your child to organise his/her belongings and reach for the items he/she needs anytime. Do also take note to remove digital distractions such as mobile phones and tablets until your child has completed the tasks on hand.
On the other hand, mental clutter is a distraction in your child’s mind which causes him/her to struggle to focus on his/her studies. This can be reduced simply by breaking your child’s study time into bite-sized segments. Encourage him/her to take short breaks to clear his/her mind before resuming his/her work.
4. Take Care Not to Overschedule Your Kids
Sure, it’s tempting to provide opportunities for your child to participate in a variety of activities after school.
However, when you overschedule your child, instead of learning about time management, all he/she will focus on is the need to keep going and to accomplish as many things as possible without learning about the purpose of each of tasks.
So, do go easy on your child’s daily schedule by allowing him/her pockets of downtime to recharge and recollect his/her thoughts.
5. Throw in Rewards
Every once in a while, it may be a great idea to reward your child for having good time management. You can give those perks either daily or weekly – and these can be great motivators to get your child to keep going.
Consider making these perks into a family rewards so that your child’s efforts to maintain good time management turns into time well spent with the family. Some great examples are a treat for the whole family to the movies or a family dinner at everyone’s favourite restaurant.
Small Steps to Good Time Management in Kids
Developing good time management is not something that will happen after two or three tries – it is a constant learning process throughout your child’s schooling years. Teaching time management to kids may start off a little bit challenging at first, but over time, you’ll see how having this essential life skill will benefit your child in the long run.