Mixing work and play - Time management for kids
There's a book report due tomorrow, a big test on Friday, and your child hasn't even started their project for next week's science fair. Let's face it, time management for kids just isn't something that come naturally.
Unfortunately, poor time management not only affects their grades in school but it also inflicts much stress and anxiety, onto the kids and their parents. It's that important. It affects so many facets of your lives, including the ability to enjoy play time.
The good news is, better time management is right around the corner for your kids, but first, there are a few rules you as a parent must know to establish the ground work. Read on...
How your kids' time management starts today
Your first and most important step is to start today. It's never too late to get started on time management skills for kids, but it's also a good idea to get started as soon as possible in building their positive habits.
First, if you can begin by turning a frustrating event into something helpful, you're on the right track. Use today's last-minute book report panic as a teachable moment. On a monthly calendar, show them how they could have scheduled only 20 minutes of daily reading for two weeks. It won't solve today's problem, but it's a much more constructive move than scolding at them, and you'll make your point.
You'll soon learn that being consistent with your time management lessons sets the best example.
Note: As a practice, all kids should have their own calendar hung prominently in their bedroom. Be sure to make it one with large enough space for them to write into. Here's an attractive and affordable stick-on dry-erase monthly calendar by Mead that will last several years, but these decorative calendars also work effectively.
Create the right homework routines
By nature, most kids excel at following patterns. For that reason, they're more likely to develop positive time management habits if you create routines they can follow. From the start get them involved in the planning.
Together, write out a list of daily after-school activities, including homework, play time, chores and free reading. Be as detailed as you can be, because some activity time you'll want to limit, such as with gadgets or video games.
It's also important to list out homework activities in detail, listing the specific subjects they need to work on each day based on their school schedule. This will ensure that no work slips through the cracks, and that they're not avoiding subjects they dislike.
You are now focusing their daily activities into a clear and tangible picture. It's true with most kids is that if you establish expectations they'll typically reward you by meeting them.
Let kids be kids -- mix work and play
Here's an important step you can't skip over: show your kids that their scheduled days can emphasize both work and play. It's a foolproof step for getting their habits to stick because they'll warm up to the fact you're not imposing punishment but rather a helpful schedule.
Using a student planner, notebook, or binder, create a daily schedule that schedules the activities listed above, broken down into blocks of time. Be sure to build-in short breaks, like a 10-minute play or snack time after 30 minutes of work. Work/play balance is vital. They're just kids after all, and play time is a meaningful part of their lives.
It's a good idea to avoid using play time as a reward because schoolwork will become something they perceive as painful and arduous.
Make time management a rewarding experience
Having a reward system is always a good idea for reinforcing positive habits. So make it clear to your child from the onset that if they follow their schedule for a predetermined period of time they'll be rewarded. Choose something they'll respond to, like allowance or something from the app store. Don't go overboard though, the benefits of positive time management habits should be rewarding enough.
To that end, make sure your kids realize the benefits of their new habits and this is where you should go overboard. Always make a point of acknowledging when reports get done ahead of time and when test grades improve due to better preparation. Learning time management skills takes work, but the benefits are well worth it.
It's not hard to realize why time management is so important for kids. But it's a life lesson that is rarely taught, and not properly at that. Take these time managment tip to heart and you'll set the groundwork for effective study habits from now into college... and likely well beyond.
If you enjoyed this article you can see our other articles on time management for kids, as well as other tips on planning organization at the AT-A-GLANCE Success Center.