4 Handy Tips to Teach your Child about Time Management Skills

Time management is a skill that needs to be taught to our children as early as possible. It makes a great difference in relieving unnecessary stress for the children and the parents when dealing with homework, examinations and household chores. Time management is especially important to teach in a single parent family because the children need to be more independent than those in a dual parent family.

Children with good time management skills at a young age will be able to independently complete task and homework from school without being nag to, prod at or yell at. They are efficient and good at breaking their tasks down into manageable portions and completing the tasks on time. What can you do to help your children achieve that?

Here are 4 handy tips that you can use to teach your children the all-important time management skills.

Estimating Time
Children are bad at estimating time as they have no idea how long it really takes to complete their homework or a task on hand. They would often underestimate time and put off homework or tasks to the last minute before realising that it is taking longer than they think. They would rather have fun first by watching TV, playing games or surfing the net. They would then realise that time passes in a flash when they are having fun.

The trick to teaching them how to estimate time is to invent a game called the “time scientist”. The purpose of the game is for your children to collect data of the duration of time they take to complete homework or a task, from beginning to end. You can help them by consolidating all the daily activities that they do, including daily routines, household chores and all the homework of the specific subjects they take at school on a piece of paper or a white board. This should have two other columns, one for your children’s estimation of the time needed for a task, and the other for the actual time taken for the completion of the task.

To make the most out of the activity of timing, choose a few tasks to time each day instead of all of them. After timing the tasks chosen for the day, sit down with your children and discuss the results. Ask probing questions such as “what have you notice about the differences in time?” will help your children to think deeper into the subject of time.

If your children are resistant to this activity, do the same for yourself so that you become a role model for them. It will achieve a better result if your children are convinced that it is a good exercise to do on a daily basis. By doing this activity for yourself, you might also find some surprises waiting for you.

All these data collection will help your children to become realistic about the time every activity takes and help them to plan the day better. They will also realise that chores and homework should be completed first so that they will have more time for fun later on.

Buy traditional clocks
Clocks that display the minute and second hands, otherwise known as traditional clocks, are a great way to show your children the passage of time. The clock should be hanged in the room where your children do their work most of the time, in direct line of sight of the children. The traditional clock is useful because it shows the children the present time in the context of what has passed and what is to come. It helps the children to judge time. The traditional clock is also helpful to your children when they determine their progress of their task at hand in relation to the passing time. The movement of the minute and second hands develop internal motivation for the children to complete a boring task and move on to a more pleasant one.

Create a “to-do list” for daily tasks
Creating “to-do list” for daily tasks is a powerful tool for children to visualise what they need to do on a daily basis. The list will teach them how to plan for the day and also give them a visual on the different tasks they need to complete before they are allowed to play.

  1. The best way to do this is to provide a personal white board to each child (you can get this easily at Daiso) and let them hang it in the place where they usually do their homework.
  2. Set a routine time for them to plan for the day. It could be one hour after they return home from school each day. Stick to the routine so that the children can develop that into a habit.
  3. Do the same for yourself (being a role model will help your children adhere to the task more readily). Put down your chores and activities for the day after you have returned from work.
  4. Let your children do the plan for themselves. You can guide them in the beginning but do not do the plan for them.
  5. You can choose to incorporate the first point of estimating time in this board if you would like to.
  6. Encourage your children to cross off each task after they have completed them. The feeling of accomplishment that your children will get after crossing off the first task will propel them onward to complete the second task.
  7. As your children finish each task, be sure to praise them for their efforts and give them a hug for added encouragement.

The “to-do list” is a great way to teach your children how to plan and manage time as well as to teach them how to complete tasks independently. As planning ahead is a fundamental skill needed in almost everything they do, teaching them to plan ahead as early as possible is a great asset to them.

Using Monthly Calendars
After teaching them how to plan daily, you can move to planning monthly. It is a similar exercise as the previous one but instead of a daily plan, you change it to a monthly plan. Advise your children to input their school projects, examination dates and assignments that are due at a later date. This put time into perspective as the children is able to visualise the time left before their assignments or projects are due. Encourage your children to strike off the days in the calendar so that it presents a bigger impact of passing time whenever they look at the calendar. It will give them a sense of urgency if they see that the time to submit their assignment is coming up and they have not done anything yet.

The monthly calendar is an advanced level for the “to-do list” as it focuses your children’s attention to plan ahead till the next deadline so that they can enhance their planning and time management skills.

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