Time Management Skills for Kids
Vicki Caruana, author of Giving Your Child the Excellence Edge, explains time management like this: “If we don’t plan how we are going to spend our time, we will end up running around from one activity to another without any purpose in life. It’s the difference between being a reactive person and a proactive person. A reactive person can only react to situations, and consequently, their lives are full of stress. On the other hand, a proactive person plans his time and is able to keep his stress level to a low roar. According to Webster’s Dictionary, a manager is ‘one who is at the head of an undertaking.’ When you manage your time, it doesn’t manage you.”
The key to teaching your children how to manage their time is to help them to prioritize. What are the things that your family values most? If it is family time, how much of a priority to you give to having a weekly family night? How often does your family eat dinner together? As you help your children prioritize their schedules, think about what is important enough to commit time to each day, whether it is family time, school studies, and extra-curricular activities or just play time.
Next, help them examine how they actually spend their time. If getting good grades is a top priority, but they spend more time playing video games than studying, then they will need to adjust their schedule. Or if they have so many activities planned that there is no down time or family time, consider cutting back their commitments to allow for more free time.
In addition to prioritizing, Caruana offers these basic steps for parents:
Plan with a calendar. Purchase a basic calendar or planner for each child so they can write down each day’s school assignments and commitments. And make sure your children are working in advance on projects and tests. For example, if your child has a book report due, divide up the pages of the book into how many days he has to read it, and then have him write those reading assignments on his calendar. Make sure your children are using their calendars to plan ahead and set goals, not to procrastinate.
Set a morning schedule. Mornings are often hectic, but it is important to make sure that your children leave on time each day. Caruana points out that in addition to the importance of being on time for school, you are teaching them to be responsible for their time and preparing them for the world of work. If you find that mornings are too chaotic in your home, consider having a checklist for the night before of having school clothes ready, homework and supplies put into their bags, lunches made, etc.
Use deadlines. Use your children’s responsibilities as tools for teaching them how to meet deadlines. Caruana says, “Look for ways to increase opportunities for practice in this area. Use a timer for homework or chores. Set up a system of rewards and consequences if your child doesn’t take to deadlines willingly. Work with your child’s teacher to help him meet school-imposed deadlines…”
Schedule “outside” time. Children are bombarded with entertainment options — from television to video games to the Internet. But how much time do your kids spend outdoors? Encourage your kids to play outside each day, doing something active such as riding a bike or playing with friends. If necessary, set limits on how much time each day they are allowed to watch television or use the computer. Perhaps this is a way you can incorporate family time into their schedules. Instead of sitting around the television together after dinner, go for a family bike ride. Teach your children to make the most of their time — even their free time.
While incorporating these steps into your children’s routines may take getting used to, teaching your children valuable time management skills will help them succeed not only in school, but in life as well.