There’s little question that it’s hard to manage the busy schedules of children effectively. That is, unless you have a plan. Managing time is all about planning ahead. You have to take control, and maximize your child’s time. If not, external factors will certainly take control!
Here are five ways to help your child manage time more effectively:
- Focus on priorities
What are your child’s priorities? What are the most important things that your child should be doing? Determine two to three priorities that your child should be focusing on, and list them. These may include academics (SAT prep, doing well in math class), arts, or sports.
- Analyze your child’s current schedule
It’s important to think about how your child is spending his/her time, and determine if that time is aligned with the priorities that you’ve listed. Take the time to sit down together and review your child’s schedule. Write down how each hour after-school is generally spent, and discuss which activities may not be a good use of your child’s time. For example, traveling an hour each way to take an hour long tennis lesson adds up to three hours of total time. This may not be an effective use of your child’s time, especially if tennis lessons are not a priority.
- Put it in writing
Now, it’s time to “book in” (mark down) the tasks for your child to accomplish in a planner or on a schedule. First, “book in” time for your child’s priorities. Then, “book in” time for homework and after-school activities (if they are not already marked down as your child’s priorities). It’s a good idea to schedule time to do homework earlier rather than later in the evening. Furthermore, it’s important that your child be in a place where he/she can focus (a quiet room, for example). Finally, “book in” time for breaks. It’s important to set aside time for children to relax, use their electronics, etc. It may be advisable to “book in” mini-breaks (10-20 minute breaks) throughout the evening if your child has a lot of things to accomplish that day. However, the goal is for your child to complete all tasks earlier in the evening and have extended breaks (1-2 hours) later in the evening. By writing this all down, you have a solid game plan for what needs to be accomplished.
- Do work ahead of time
This is essential. If a big paper is due next week, your child should “book in” time to work on the paper THIS week, and aim to finish the paper ahead of time. I would advise “chunking,” which is breaking down the assignment into smaller parts. A child can get overwhelmed by the length of a paper and all of the aspects it entails. By breaking down the assignment into smaller chunks and spreading out the work over the course of a few days, your child will have a manageable plan in place to complete the paper. The same applies to tests. Studying for tests ahead of time helps children retain information in a more efficient and effective manner.
- Follow your schedule
Every day, your child should look at the planner/schedule, and see what needs to be accomplished that day. Then, simply follow the schedule. After your child completes a task, check it off. It is also a good idea for your child to preview the schedule for the next day/week in order to anticipate upcoming assignments and exams. There will likely be a number of issues that will arise (distractions, schedule changes, etc.), which will make it difficult to follow the schedule. This is where you have to be level-headed. So, ask yourself these three questions: Is this issue a priority? (Do I have to attend to this issue now?) Can I follow my schedule and attend to this issue later? If I attend to this issue, how can I best make up the lost time?
Time management is an essential key to success for children of all ages. By helping children develop strong study skills at an early age, you can set them on a path to success in school and beyond.
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