A friend of mine recently asked me for advice on how to get one of her kids to manage time a little better. She knows that I have posted a lot about parenting topics and wondered if there was anything that I thought would help their mornings, afternoons, evenings to run more smoothly. On the one hand I was flattered that she asked me for advice and on the other I thought ‘Boy do I have you fooled if you think I know what I’m doing.’ I do not. But I like to read up and research all kinds of things so I told her I’d look into it a little more. And that’s how this post came to be —- teach your kids how to manage their time efficiently.
Most of these suggestions are pretty basic but could serve as a reminder for things you might try. We struggle with these in our home on the daily so this is a reminder to me as well. We could always be doing better.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
Do what works best for each child.
I have 3 kids who are very different from each other. (you too!?) They have unique personalities, learning styles and motivations. What works for one, will definitely not work for another. So first and foremost, I think you need to recognize what will work best for each child and go with that. Even if it means several approaches and ways of getting them on track. One child might respond to a visual reminder, while another would appreciate audio cues.
These are the common traits of different types of learners:
- Appreciate visual reminders like graphs, charts, pictures and seeing info
- Good at reading body language and non verbal cues
- Usually remembers things that are written down
- Learns better by WATCHING
For visual kids – use some of my printable charts.
- Retain the most information from hearing and speaking
- Likes to be told how to do things and then repeat back to help memorize
- Sometimes has talents in music and can concentrate better with soft music playing
For audio kids – My sister uses her phone to set alarms for EVERYTHING (right Jess? Love ya!). If your child does better with audio cues, set alarms with their favorite songs. With some repetition they will start to know that “Uptown Funk” means breakfast time and “This is How We Do” means to get ready to head out the door, etc. Make it fun so that they will actually want to do the tasks at hand. I created a get ready in the morning playlist that motivates me. It might motivate your kids too, who knows?
- They appreciate the hands on approach. They’d rather DO than visualize or listen
- Often times are good at math and science
- They like doing things in groups and working with others
For kinesthetic kids – Think of ways to get them moving and doing more than telling them. They are more apt to get things done on time if they do it with their siblings or if you work along side them.
Whether you are getting ready for the morning or after school sports, plan ahead.
Set clothes out, find shoes, make lunches the night before. Do as much as you possibly can beforehand to minimize forgetting things and rushing to get out the door.
For the afternoon, have your kids set out sports equipment, shoes, workbooks, whatever they need.
You can get snacks set out before they get home so that they are ready to go when they walk through the door.
Check out some of my suggestions for after school snacks.
While each child is different, most do the best when they have a consistent routine. If there are expectations and boundaries, they will rise to the occasion. I’ve found that as my kids get older this has become harder and harder. Long gone are the days that I could get them to bed at 7:30pm every single night. Ha! With sports and activities, we get to bed later and later.
BUT it is important to maintain some kind of routine. Do the same things every day: take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack lunch and back pack, etc. You can do something like After School 1-2-3 to keep the chaos to a minimum.
Another way to encourage routine is to have a list or times for how their morning and afternoons need to run. Becky from Organizing Made Fun suggested this and I think it’s awesome. If they know that they have to be done with “task a” by a certain time to move on to “task b,” they will be more likely to manage their time. This is especially true for older kids as younger kids most likely won’t understand the time reference.
This can be especially tough. The world we live in today goes a million miles a minute with being “plugged in” nonstop. If your child is one that can’t concentrate when the tv is on, an iPad is in front of them, music is playing, etc, it’s time to turn it all off. Get rid of those things that will take away from staying on task. Even if they gripe about it, chances are they will appreciate not having those distractions.
You can set it up to have those things added back in once they are ready for the day or when their homework is done. But until they can get everything done and be ready to head out the door on time, distractions should be minimized.
There will always be certain things that have to be done: showers/baths, brushing teeth, getting dressed, etc. But there are other variables that don’t necessarily have to happen every single day. They don’t have to have the perfectly done hair when they walk out the door. One of the things that helps some kids with time management is having some of the control. Letting them pick out their outfit or choosing what breakfast they want. Decide what is most important to you and stick to those key things. Choose your battles! And then let the rest go.
Be a good example.
The truth is – my time management skills are rusty. Like I said, this post could be written for me more than anyone. But I know how important it is to do what you say. So if you are constantly scrambling, running late, or unprepared, what do you think you’re teaching your children? My Mom is notorious for being early. I like to say that if we weren’t 15 minutes early to something, we were late. Guess how I am today? Exactly the same way. I hate being late to anything. I’m pretty sure that promptness was drilled into me as a kid so I am now a prompt adult. And if I am running late for some reason, I will always let whoever knows that I will be late.
Keep that in mind when you are dealing with your kids. Don’t ask them to do anything that you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself.
Let them learn the hard way.
This can be extremely difficult but sometimes you have to let them learn the hard way – forgetting their homework, being late to something because they didn’t get their act together, missing out on something they want to do. Rescuing your child all the time puts the responsibility on YOU, not them. They won’t learn how to be successful on their own and manage their time well if you are always there to rush in. You can do something like a grace period- if your son or daughter forgets his/her homework, bring it to school once. But let them know that it was a one time thing and that you won’t do it again. They have to learn consequences and nothing will teach them better than failing once in awhile.
So — how do you teach your kids how to manage their time efficiently?