Ever asked your child if he’s ready for bed, and you get the answer, “Just a minute!”?
You’re not alone. Children are notorious for procrastinating, which is why it’s important to teach them about time management. It’s a skill that can be beneficial in all areas of life — from school to work and beyond.
In fact, time management is probably one of the most valuable skills you can teach your children.
Why children need to be taught time management
Children need to be taught how to manage their time effectively because it is a critical skill they will need as they get older. Think about it, as children grow up and become adults, they will manage their own schedules and responsibilities. They will have work deadlines and personal obligations. They may even have their own families one day.
When children learn how to manage their time, they can accomplish more. They can learn how to plan. They can learn how to track commitments and deadlines. And these are all valuable skills that will help them in all aspects of life.
Productivity is a skill, and like any skill, it takes practice to develop. Learning good time management skills in childhood can set your child up for success. Time management is a valuable skill that extends beyond the classroom.
When your child learns to manage their time, they'll be able to achieve goals that are important to them in school, at home, and with friends.
Here are seven time management tips that you can teach your kids as they grow:
1. Practice with your child
The best way to teach time management skills is to practice them with your child. Let's say you're going to the grocery store. Before leaving, ask your child for his or her input on how long the trip will take.
If your child thinks it will take 20 minutes, ask him or her what steps to take to make sure that you get there on time and accomplish everything on your list in that amount of time. Once you've done this a few times, try practicing these skills in a new environment and with a different set of parameters (e.g., public transportation instead of driving).
The more hands-on experience a kid has, the better they'll be able to apply these concepts to their schoolwork when the time comes.
2. Set realistic goals
Setting goals can help your child to focus on what they are trying to achieve, and make sure that they have enough time to complete the goal. Goals should be realistic and achievable, rather than too broad or too hard.
For example, if your child wants to get better at a sport, they could set a goal of improving by a certain amount each week or completing five extra laps of training per week. Goals should also be specific and include measures of success.
For example, "I want to improve my running" is not as helpful as "I want to run five kilometers in 30 minutes by the end of the semester."
3. Set daily goals
A goal is a dream with a deadline, so setting daily goals will help your child focus on what needs to be done. You can teach your child how to set daily goals by making it a family activity. Invite them to set aside some time each day for the entire family to share what they hope to accomplish that day. Make sure each goal is specific and realistic.
Here's an example: Instead of saying "I want to do better in school," encourage your child to say "I want to get all my homework done today." This turns their vague expectation into a specific goal that they can work toward within the same day.
4. Make use of visual reminders
Kids are visual learners. So, make use of pictures or other visuals when teaching them about managing their time. For example, create a countdown chart using numbers or photos that show how many steps are left until a particular activity ends (like playtime or homework time).
Creating visual aids is a great way to teach children how long things take. Encourage kids to use calendars, schedules, or even timers when doing homework assignments. Break large projects into smaller chunks and record the due dates for each chunk on a calendar so that kids can see what needs to be accomplished each day and week.
5. Keep track of time with an analog clock or timer.
Digital clocks display only the current time, which may not mean much to kids who are still learning about telling time. Analog clocks display the time in terms of minutes and hours — a better way for kids to visualize how much time they have left before they have to leave for school or start their homework.
6. Make a list.
Help your child understand the value of writing down tasks as they come up. When you make a grocery list before heading out, explain that it ensures you don't forget anything. That way, when you're at the store, you know exactly what you need to buy and where it's located. The same goes for getting things done around the house or at school.
7. Teach your child to set priorities
Learning to set priorities is one of the most important life skills you can teach your child. When your child has a busy schedule, it can be difficult for them to decide how to spend their time. Having the ability to look at their schedule and determine what's most important can help them become more efficient and feel less stressed.
Although these time management tips aren't overly complicated, it, however, takes time and effort to make them a habit. So, it's important to remember that these habits will take time — for both you and your child.
Don't get frustrated or give up if your child doesn't learn them right away or if they forget to use their new skills every once in a while. Building good habits is a long process, even for children.