Children don’t learn about time management in textbooks but it’s one of those skills that would help them immensely.
As they grow up, they are constantly faced with deadlines and busy schedules, so managing their time properly would help reduce stress for them and their parents! Experts also say that knowing how to manage one’s time is linked to later success in life.
The good news is that time management is a skill that can be taught and learned. Parents and caregivers can help toddlers to teens learn tangible ways to manage their time independently.
Here are some tips:
▪ Teaching time management skills can start from an early age by showing your child that she or he needs to finish a set of tasks on her own in a limited time period. An example would be to use words or images to illustrate the tasks one has to carry out as regards personal hygiene before going to bed, like brushing teeth and putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket. Another option would be to turn a task into a game, for example asking the child to store away his toys by the time a favourite song is over.
▪ To raise greater awareness of time, you can provide a clock or visual timer for your little ones and help them gauge the time spent on tasks. You can also use a sand timer so the child is able to “see” how much time is left. Use timers for bath time, dressing time or TV time. Set times should be appropriate for the age and ability of the child.
▪ Older children can create a chart. You can help them build this chart around regular meal times and bedtime. They can then fill in all of their responsibilities, for example doing homework or helping mum lay the table for dinner, and the time at which these tasks should be carried out. When each chore is ready, check them off.
▪ You can go into more detail with a homework timetable and list projects or assignments to do from Monday to Friday. You can use different colours for different subjects and projects to make the timetable easier to follow. Once a task is completed, put a check mark next to it.
▪ It’s important to provide a quiet place, free from TV or other distractions, where your children can sit and work without interruption. This will surely help them finish homework or study more quickly and thus have more free time.
▪ For long-term planning, post-it note calendars can be useful for students to visualise when different assignments are due, as well as to help with breaking assignments down into manageable chunks.
▪ Coach self-discipline. Help children improve self-discipline by giving them the responsibility of managing assignments or parts of a project on their own. If they’re not successful, don’t get angry at them… they will eventually learn from their own mistakes.
▪ Choose activities wisely. There is no formula to help you find out how many activities a child should be involved in during the week but take stock of your child’s cues. Let children be children and leave them enough time to play and relax. However, try to limit screen time, be it the use of tablets or TV. It’s better if they spend more time doing more important tasks and other fun and interesting activities, including reading or drawing for example, or outdoor activities.