It’s the start of a new school year. Memories of beach days, cold ice creams, and dips in the pool have started to fade and are replaced with thoughts about the new academic year and the challenges that lie ahead.
A brand-new school year can be fun and exciting, but for many parents, it is a dreaded time. Children are trying to settle into their schedules and parents are trying to figure out their own schedules, but no one is actually sticking to these schedules! With the proper tools, right example, time, and some patience, any child can learn to keep themselves on track. Here are 13 easy tips to help you teach your child time management skills and how to get things done…on time!
1. Make Time Management Fun
For a child, learning time management skills should be fun. Turn those simple tasks (brushing teeth, getting dressed, etc.), into a game to see who can complete it first. Use colour when making the extra mural calendars or add stickers to special days like birthdays. It is a lot easier to teach children something that they find interesting and fun.
2. Teach Them to Measure Time
Most children who know how to tell time don’t necessarily know how to measure time. The goal is simply to help them understand what 5 minutes or 15 minutes feels like. Let them complete a certain task, such as completing a puzzle and give them a block of time to complete this task. By giving them a verbal countdown of the minutes, they can begin getting an internal feel for these time segments.
3. Create Individual Calendars
Most households have a family calendar that is visible to all. However, each child should have their own calendar too. This calendar can be put up in their room and should be more detailed and personalised than the family calendar. It will give them a sense of ownership of their own schedule.
4. Do Not Overschedule Them
Children should never be overscheduled. Instead of learning about time management the right way, all they will feel is a constant go, go, go. Overscheduling throws their clock off and yours too. Try to avoid it so all of you can get a better handle on time management.
5. Schedule Free Time
Making a schedule and sticking to it is important, but part of that schedule should include free time. This will help them learn that time management isn't just about getting ready to go somewhere or finishing up a structured activity on time.
6. Consider Rewards
Yes, children may be rewarded for good time management and those rewards can be great motivators. Rewards can be daily or weekly and you should decide on those rewards together as a family. Be creative with your rewards or make it a family reward.
7. Set A Fixed Bedtime
Children ages five to twelve need 10 – 11 hours of sleep per day to support their growth and allow their brain to form new connections. Set a reasonable bedtime, stick to it, and make sure this stays a top priority, no matter what.
8. Establish Set Mealtimes
Setting specific mealtimes will help children become more aware of time. It lets them know to finish all the tasks that come before it - it sets to work certain internal biological markers.
9. Establish Rules for Electronics
Try to establish “what, when, and how much” rules with regards to screen time. Restrict their use as much as possible. It is also important to set a concrete ‘bedtime’ for technology; when all screens are turned off for the night. Yes, yours, too.
10. Designate a Study Zone
Children need a designated study area where they can do homework without being distracted. Allocate a room that functions as a study zone and let them study without any distractions. Arrange the area appropriately as well to reduce visual distractions, too.
11. Be Consistent
Consistency is key! Routines only stick if they are consistently followed. You might get bored doing the same thing every day, but children secretly love routines and habits. Predictability provides a feeling of safety for them and this security frees up their ability to think creatively and build independence.
12. Model What You Want Them to Learn
Children learn by example, and their greatest example is you. If you tell them that a schedule is important, but you are habitually late for everything, they will start to sniff out inauthenticity. If you don’t manage your own time, why should they?
13. Keep Your Expectations Reasonable
Like any new skill, learning time management takes practice. Remember that this is a new concept for children who have always been told when to do things. Be patient and encouraging —don’t be too hard on them if they mess up.
Go and implement these tips today. Visit our Facebook page and tell us about the before-and-after. I bet you’ll have something to say.