When I was in school, I was the queen of time management. During high school, I was involved in choir, orchestra, drama, chamber orchestra (which was after school), show choir (also after school) and I took ballet 4-5 days a week depending on the time of year. I also had 3 AP/Honors classes, so my class load wasn’t light by any means. However, I always managed to get my work done on time, if not early.
How did I do that, you might ask? Time Management
I learned from an early age that schoolwork came first and, except on very rare occasions, it had to be done before any other after school activities. I knew that if my homework or grades suffered, I would not be allowed to go to dance class and I absolutely loved to dance.
I will admit, it is not something that was taught to me, other than through consequences – if I didn’t finish, I didn’t go. However, in college I did learn a few tricks to managing my time, which I teach my own kids now.
5 Tips for Teaching Time Management
- Start Young – Time Management doesn’t start in Middle School or High School, it starts young. As I said above, I don’t remember learning Time Management, but I did it even in elementary school. I knew my work had to be done to play outside after school or go to dance class. We start teaching our kids from the time we begin schoolwork, that there are consequences for not finishing their work. Most of the time they are working under our instruction, so they get it done. However, their math is done on the computer and if they do not finish their lessons (or until they finish their lessons), there are no electronics or outside play time. This isn’t always easy, especially since we have to rotate through one computer, but they are allowed to read or even play with their LEGO bricks quietly while the others work. If you are one that plans your homeschool out by the week, month or even year – write down their assignments for them, so they can see what is expected. That way they can work ahead if they want!
- Set a timer – Most kids (or adults for that matter) do not comprehend the amount of time it takes to complete a task. That’s when a timer comes in handy. Setting a timer allows kids to realize how much time their math assignment may take or how much time it takes to read 3 chapters in their book. Sometimes the timer can be helpful to push them along, but don’t use it negatively. This is meant to be a training tool. I have one child that likes to race against the clock, but we found with his reading, the comprehension suffered. So, we just allow extra time for reading assignments. However, most of the time the timer helps.
- Make it their responsibility – While I give my younger kids grace and we have lots of teachable moments, my oldest (12) is expected to take responsibility for his assignments. He knows what is expected of him each day and thus, week, so he is responsible for getting it done. This did not happen overnight, nor does it always happen without some prodding or consequences. We cannot expect our children to magically know how to manage their time, because I know plenty of adults who struggle with it themselves. However, I can teach them strategies and ways to help them, so they can succeed through high school, college and adulthood.
- Create an assignment list – Sometimes kids just don’t like or forget to check their planner. This is when an assignment list comes in handy. I used one in college and it literally saved my life. After I had all my syllabi from each class, I would sit down and type out a spreadsheet with all my assignments and due dates in order and a check box, to mark off completed assignments. It would take me most of a day, but it helped me so much. I could work ahead and in my free time on projects in the order they were due, so nothing slipped through. Often times, I was completely finished with papers, reading and assignments at least a month before the end of the semester. This freed up more time for studying and enjoying time before finals.
- Use a planner – This is far more important than pretty planners and decorative stickers. If your kids (any age) are involved in outside activities, they need a planner. While I know most mom’s keep the schedule in the home, if kids don’t know their own schedules, how can they learn to plan? This can be a simple daily planner or as elaborate as you want. We use our Middle & High School Planner for our oldest and it has really helped him stay on track. If you have a middle or high schooler that needs to work on their time management, the Middle & High School Planner has it all!
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