How to Teach Kids Time Management

This time of year, mothers of school-aged kids are either dreaming of long days at the beach or planning ahead for next year’s studies.  If you are in the dreaming stage, bookmark this page and come back later for some valuable tips on teaching time managment to your kids.  If you are in the planning stages, read on because studies show that one of the most important skills that successful students have is knowing how to manage their time.  This is especially true for those with learning challenges like Dyslexia.

Mastering time management takes time.  It isn’t as easy as writing notes and due dates in a planner.  Your kids will need to become familiar with different organizational tools (and which ones suit their learning style) as well as gain understanding about how much time they take to complete certain tasks.

Tips for General Time Management

Know your values

Begin teaching time management by establishing your family’s priorities.  Instead of thinking in minutes and hours, think of the big picture.  In our home it looks like this:

  • God
  • Family
  • School
  • Work
  • Play

Consider writing a family mission statement that defines long term family goals in areas such as education, work or service.

Do less

Managing time is often about dropping less important activities more than it is about fitting in new activities.  Avoid overscheduling your kids.  With a large family such as ours, we have to carefully consider every potential activity before we commit.  Relationships can become strained when too many evenings are spent driving to and from meetings and classes.  It can be hard to say no to some of the amazing opportunities that come up during the course of a year.  Save yourself the trouble and know that some activities will have to go on the long term goal list.

Avoid Procrastination

Teach kids to prioritize their responsibilities and deal with the difficult things first.  Getting your least favorite tasks out of the way early in the day helps to avoid the temptation to put the task off until a more ‘convenient’ time.

Tips for Time Management :: School

Begin by providing your child with a monthly calendar.  You can buy one or print one up online.  Click here for a link to a great site with lots of free calendar templates.  Add holidays, birthdays and other important events to the calendar including afternoon and evening commitments such as music lessons, sports practices, Scouts or Bible Study.  We also have our older kids {we will have two 9th-graders next year!} add any classes that they are taking through our homeschool group or at the community college on their calendars.  As school assignements come in, add those as well as test dates to the calendar.

Now have a weekly calendar and transfer all activities and assignments or tests for the week to that list.  Click here for a link to some great weekly planning sheets.  Teach kids to break up larger assignemtns, such as reading or studying for tests, into chunks and place them on their weekly calendars.  Work backwards from test dates to schedule in enough time for study and review.  As your kids learn how much time reading a chapter of science actually takes, they will be better able to schedule the proper amount of time to get the reading done on schedule.

A friend of mine shared with me a rule in her house.   She will not help a child proof or correct any assignment the night before it is due.  It is too stressfull for everyone!  Teach them to avoid procrastination and plan ahead!

From here, work with your child as needed {this will be daily at first} on going over each days events and guide them through prioritizing and tweaking their schedule until they become proficient enough to tweak it on their own.  As with any schedule, they are best used as a guide.  Very seldom does a day go just as it is planned.

Practice makes perfect

This is a simple summertime time management lesson you can do at home.  Practice prioritizing daily activities using your family’s hierarchy.  Try making a list with your child of everything that needs to be done on any particular day or even week.  Then decide in what order things will be done according to your family’s priorities.  Go through scenarios of organizing time and making choices.  Talk about the consequences of poor choices.  An obvious example could be that by choosing to play all morning instead of finishing your chores means that when the neighbors call and invite everyone over for a swim, they will not be able to go.  For Christian kids, you can begin to teach them  about the importance and blessing of putting God first and spending time with Him daily before beginning the busyness of the day.

Time management in the kitchen

Another fun way that we have worked on time management skills with our kids is to have them plan and prepare the evening meal.  Begin by breaking down the job into smaller chunks.  So for making dinner this might look like this:

  • Choose menu
  • Find ingredients
  • Shop {if necessary}
  • Cook
  • Set table
  • Serve
  • Clean up
Have the child estimate {with your help at first} how long each task will take and work backwards from the time you want your family to eat dinner to know when to begin.

Time management for younger kids

Younger kids can benefit from simple time management exercises as well.  Here are a few ideas for beginning to instill the idea and practice of time managment in your younger kids:

  • Chore charts – from the age of 3 and up we have used chore charts to help kids stay on task throughout the day.
  • Use a timer for dawdlers – kids who struggle staying on task need more accountability and a timer has worked wonders for our dawdlers.
  • Family calendar – keep a family calendar in a prominent location so that all family members can see it.  Use different colors for each person so that even younger kids can easily see when they have something planned.
  • Don’t overschedule – see above.  Family relationships suffer when everyone is running around with no down time.
  • Lay clothes out the evening before an event like school or church.

Teaching time management to kids is critically important for their adult success.  Start teaching them now how to think ahead, put aside procrastination and use your family’s priorities for making the most of their days.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

Do you teach time management to your kids?  What ways have you found to be effective?  Leave a comment below!

Linking up today with Your Thriving Family, Big Family Friday and

Marianne Sunderland

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Comments

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