To coin a phrase “Time waits for no child” but since children are generally impatient, children don’t wait for time either so it’s a pretty balanced relationship. Yet when they make the transition from primary school to secondary school time management techniques become important in order to cope with the increased expectations they receive. So here are some ideas to help you train your child to gain time management skills and the stick-to-itiveness that will help them succeed in secondary school and beyond.
- Firstly look at what is your child’s learning style? There are three indentified styles: visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. Visual means they learn by looking at pictures, auditory means they learn by hearing the information and repeating it, kinaesthetic means they need to have hands on approach to the information. This can be done by observation, watch your kid at play or while they work to understand a new thing. There are also several online tests that you can explore with your child, for example, How To Study.com has an excellent assessment tool. Or read my wonderful wife’s amazingly interesting article “Eyes, ears and hands – learning for life” on this site (she made me type this!)
Once you know your child’s learning style you can use that style to teach time management. Visual learners may need to see how a schedule works, auditory learners will need to hear about prioritisation, kinaesthetic learners should be encouraged to build a task list.
- Create/maintain a regular place for study. This means having a space in the house specifically for doing homework which encourages the child to focus on completing homework. Some kids prefer music, some don’t. Some can work independently, some can’t. Ensure they are comfortable and keep the area clear of distractions; access to the internet, gaming devices or television could be a distraction, so ensure they are not part of the study area.
- Build a catalogue of time management tools. These include clocks, calendars, spreadsheets and lists. Teach younger kids to read a monthly calendar, older kids can be exposed to apps that support time management techniques and can be shared on their smart-phone. Once a calendar is established, schedule time specifically related to the tasks they have to achieve. Do this with your child so that they understand what they need to achieve on a given day. Ensure too that one day a week is spent reviewing the schedule and planning for the next seven days.
- Promote self-discipline. Give your child projects that they do without supervision. Reward them when they take initiative and manager tasks or projects by themselves. Show your child how to do so by being disciplined yourself. Let them fail once or twice so that they learn the consequences of poor management and discipline.
- Having a healthy lifestyle promotes focus, so ensure your child gets 8 hours of sleep, plenty of nutritious food, and outdoor play or exercise. These have been scientifically proven to help a brain focus on tasks and learning. Tired kids are poor thinkers.
- Having appropriate technology for your child. Older technology may be a money saver, but make sure they are not so old that they can’t run software applications used at your child’s school. Have a computer with sufficient RAM to cope with Microsoft 2007 as a minimum. Sure, Microsoft Office can cope with older versions of itself, but if your RAM is small then your processing speed is slow in comparison and your child will get frustrated and discouraged. Also ensure you have a strong internet connection. Dial-Up modems do not provide the speed that can help promote quick access to the internet. Once again you risk discouraging your child if the technology does not function well.
So we’ve covered general requirements. Let’s look at some specifics.
Here are the skills you want to teach your child and some ways to do it.
Project break down
A large project seems daunting at first, so help your child analyse it by identifying the specific tasks that need to be done to complete it. An assignment at school can be broken down into the following parts: research, preparing the answer, reviewing the answer, submission. Even those parts can be broken into smaller tasks. Prepare a schedule of tasks then use the calendar to assign a due date. This can even be done for family projects giving your children experience in breaking a big job into small parts. The same goes for chores. Encourage your children to break down the chore of cleaning their room into smaller tasks.
This skill helps a child recognise important tasks and why they are important in terms of completing the project, the time frame allowed to complete them and perhaps the consequences of not doing the task. They need to identify what tasks have to be done and what tasks they want to do. This might teach them the value of time. If they do the tasks they have to do first, and they do a good job, then they can be rewarded with a task they want to do. Tasks that have to be done are project centred and/or chores, tasks they want to do include things they like to do, e.g. play on the computer, ride a bike. Hopefully some tasks they have to do will also be the things they want to do. It’s easier to get a child to complete something they want do, so find ways to make the haves more fun and engaging.
This skill helps a child allocate time and review time spent on the task. It’s important that you sit with your child as you do this so that they can realistically assign time to spend on the task. Start by doing this on a daily basis and ensure that tasks they set down are in line with project deadlines. Use a paper schedule to begin with and as they gain confidence, transfer to a smart-phone calendar.
By being consistent, your child will gain these skills and help them to manage their time and priorities as they move through high school. One helpful site is PBSKids, this has excellent resources to teach your child time management.
If you have any helpful tips or questions, then feel free to leave a comment below.