It’s ten past eight and your child should have already been out the door. Instead, he’s been scrambling to find his shoes and now he’s just rummaging aimlessly through his backpack. What could he be doing that is more important than showing up to school on time?
The fact is your child may not see time the way you do. He may not be considering that time spent searching for his favorite dinosaur toy is time taken away from other tasks, like getting to school on time. For kids, time management a lesson that has to be learned over time, and with practice.
Creating a Plan that Works for Your Child
While sometimes it can seem like you child will never figure out how to do homework assignments or get ready for school in a given amount of time, the truth is he just needs to learn how. Some kids learn this naturally, others need to be taught.
As a parent, it’s up to you to observe your child’s natural abilities to manage his time and come up with a system to help him further develop the skill. What works for you may not work for your child. Some kids thrive on the satisfaction of checking items off a list. Others may prefer to see their activities mapped out on a chart. The key is identifying the best solution for your child.
Try one (or all) of these simple strategies to get started.
- Daily Planning. Help you child make the most of her after-school time by creating a schedule together of her responsibilities. Set up a chart where she can see each task scheduled in at a certain time, such as homework at 4pm and washing dishes at 8pm. This can help develop a sense of how much time it takes to do each task and help your child learn to keep an eye on the clock.
- Weekly Planning. Each week, sit down with your child and help him write out all of his homework assignments, listing each under the day he should work on them. Your child can check off each task as completed to help him learn to track deadlines and duties.
- Television Planning. Admit it. Most of us love to watch tv and spend way too much time doing it. So help your child be mindful of time wasted by helping her create a schedule of her favorite television shows. Suggest that she make time for these shows, but limit additional time in front of the tv screen. This can be a great way to make her more aware of how much time she spends watching television each week and therefore may help her decide if it is the best use of her time.
When all is said and done, time management skills are about self-discipline. You want to help your child learn to police herself and take charge of her own schedule. By doing this, she will thrive not only at making the best use of her time, but in other areas as well. Organizational skills and making positive choices go hand in hand with self-discipline.
Other Ways You Can Help
- Help her distinguish between what she has to do and what she wants to do. Place each activity in its respective list so she can tackle what’s important first while keeping a goal of getting to do what she wants later.
- Give her a heads up. If you child is playing, rather than stopping her and telling her for come to dinner immediately, give her a 5- or 10-minute notice before she is required to come to the table. This will help her understand the time frame and the importance of even a small amount of time.
- Make an example of yourself. Your child learns by watching adults, so if you aren’t managing your time wisely, your child may pick up on your habits. If your child can follow a schedule, so can you.
- Accept the consequences. It’s important for your child to understand that wasted time has consequences. Talk with your child about what an appropriate consequence of wasting time should be, such as less time watching television that day. Help him to realize that if he doesn’t use his “homework time” wisely, it will reduce his time spent doing other activities he may want to do.
When helping your child build his time management skills, make it clear that free time is important, too. You want your child to make good use of his time, and time spent enjoying life and playing is without question a good use of time.
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