Does your child get ready at turtle speed when their school bus is waiting outside?
They never seem to get a sense of hurry no matter how rushed you feel.
Well, there is a good reason for this.
It’s because young kids usually don’t have a sense of time and they don’t know how to measure time.
But we can teach kids to manage time in various ways so that they learn to manage their time wisely.
HOW DO YOU TEACH KIDS ABOUT TIME?
Younger kids do not have a sense of time and hence they have no idea about dividing their time wisely to fit all their chores and tasks. Here are some tips to teach kids about the concept of time and how to manage it.
1. START TEACHING ABOUT TIME AT A YOUNG AGE
You can start teaching kids about time from when they are preschoolers.
Start by teaching the names of the months of the year and the changing seasons.
Teach them how seasons repeat like clockwork and about which seasons visit us during different months of the year.
Crafts and activities related to each season will help to grasp ideas about seasons and the changes that occur in nature in each season.
Next, we can teach about different times of the day, like morning, afternoon, evening, and night.
Teach them activities we do at each time of the day like eating breakfast in the morning, playing in the park in the evening, sleeping at night, etc.
For preschoolers and kindergarteners, it could be too early to teach time from a clock. Instead, you can use a visual representation of time, like charts and timers.
You can create a daily visual schedule for them in which you can make visual representations of time like a picture of eggs which represent breakfast and morning time, a picture of rice which represent lunch and afternoon time, a picture of books for bedtime, etc.
This helps them to have an idea of what time comes after another.
And if you want them to do a task within a particular time, buy a visual timer and set the timer to understand the passage of time.
For eg, if you want them to pick up the toys, set the visual timer and encourage them to finish the task by looking at the visual timer.
Even though it will take them time to learn to measure time and estimate the time required for each activity, visual timers are a great place to start with.
By the time, your child reaches age 6 or 7, you can teach them to tell time from a clock.
But still, kids usually overestimate the time required to do a task. But don’t worry, their brains will adapt to measuring and estimating time as they grow older and gain experience.
2. HELP KIDS TO MAKE SCHEDULES AND SET DAILY PRIORITIES
By the time kids reach grade 4 or 5, they will start getting more homework and more to study.
It’s normal to get frustrated at this age when they don’t get enough time for their leisure time when juggling between school, after-school activities, and homework.
They have to fit what they want to do in the short window of time between school and bedtime.
In this case, you can help them create a schedule. Ask them to list all activities they want to do after school.
It might not be possible to do all activities in a day. So let them prioritize what they want to do the most.
Since it’s not possible to play soccer, bake a cake, ride a bike, do homework, etc. all in one evening, they can spread the activities across different days of the week.
Make sure you prioritize time for studies and fit in at least one leisure activity of their choice every day.
On some days, they don’t have much to study, so this is an opportunity to add another activity from their list to that day.
This will help them to manage their time wisely and make peace with the fact that each day everyone gets only limited time to do all the must-dos and want-to-dos.
As an adult, I would say it’s sad, but it is how it is.
3. TEACH THEM TO BE BEWARE OF TIME STEALERS
It’s so easy to lose track of time if they are spending too much time on screens. Or just lazying around.
If you find your kids are not accomplishing much or if they are repeatedly overdue with homework, they sure are not utilizing their time properly.
To tackle this, identify where they are losing time and help them allocate time blocks for studies, hobbies, and chores in their daily schedule.
That being said, having strict gadget rules is necessary today for kids (and adults) if we want to be productive. Kids should be taught about the dangers of unlimited scrolling in our productivity levels.
Here is a helpful article on how Instagram is rewiring your child’s brain.
4. SCHEDULE TIME TO RELAX
Filling all their time with activities and studies can make them feel overwhelmed and burned out.
In today’s hustle culture, it is very important to learn to do nothing, just be bored or do some relaxing activities.
Let kids have downtime where they can just relax and have screen time or indulge in self-care activities.
Schedule blocks of time to unwind and take a break from all the tasks. This helps them to cancel out the hustle culture where people are scared to feel unproductive when they just relax.
Learning to relax is an important key to long-term health and vitality.
Let them choose their relaxing activities- it could be taking a much-needed nap, walking, or deep breathing.
5. INTRODUCE TIME MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Making a schedule helps in time management for kids- especially middle school students and teenagers, as they get busier each year with studies.
But after making a schedule, they need to get into a routine to put it into practice.
When they get into a routine like playing every day at a certain time, it becomes a habit. Time management tools can help them track their time and can act as accountability partners in managing time.
Here are some kid-freindly time management tools for different ages:
- Visual timers. This is for small kids.
- Personal calendar. Have a family calendar and also one for each kid that they can individually fill up. They can add, mark or delete events according to their wish and get a hang of managing their tasks on their own. Then you will find that you need to nag less and they get more responsible and independent too. For personal calendars, you can get these boards from Amazon (see below). Alternatively, you can print a letter-size/A4 planner page and laminate it and use it as a dry-erase planner.
- Weekly/Daily planners. There are planners designed for kids. You can get them one and encourage them to fill it out weekly or daily. Or buy printable planners and print according to need.
- Project management apps. For older kids who have personal devices or if your kids are more comfortable with apps than physical planning methods, they can use time scheduling apps or online tools. Here is a list of time management tools to choose from.
6. TEACH THEM TO ORGANIZE
Organizing their room or study space should be taught with time management training. If anyone wants to be efficient with time, organizing is important.
Otherwise, you could lose so much of your time looking for things. Teach them to have a place for each of their belongings and always keep them in place. Get them organizational tools if necessary.
Encourage them to declutter their room every once in a while and earn more space and time.
- 10 daily decluttering habits of people who have tidy homes
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- 100+ things to declutter from your home right now
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- How to stop accumulating clutter before it starts
7. TEACH THEM HOW TO DO LONG-TERM PROJECTS AND GOALS
Most children usually have some goals and aspirations by the time they reach middle school. It could be regarding studies or sports or any other creative activities.
But many of them end up not achieving their potential because they simply do not talk about it. Even if they do, they don’t get the right guidance.
They might have their inner limiting beliefs as well.
This is also one of the reasons why good heart-to-heart conversations are important with your kids. Connecting one-on-one with them on a daily basis at least for 10 minutes a day helps a lot in bringing out your child’s inner thoughts and beliefs.
Related: How to connect with your child using their love language(5 love languages explained)
Or else, while helping them make a daily schedule, you can ask them if they have any specific goals they would like to achieve.
If they have, it’s a good opportunity to help them set long-term goals and break them down bit by bit, and convert those into daily actions.
For example, if they dream of getting into a state-level baseball team, discuss what they need to do in order to achieve that goal – starting with the steps to take to get into the team and the skills they require to develop, and the daily practice hours they should put in.
This will help them work toward their goals on a daily basis.
Another example is if they have a long-term project to submit at school, encourage them to start early so that they can avoid the last-minute rush.
Show them how you can break the big project into small sections and estimate and allocate time for each section. This will help them overcome any anxiety they have regarding the big project and teach them how they can approach big events in life.
Here is a useful article on how to help kids break big tasks into small chunks.
8. TEACH THEM TO FOCUS
The biggest time thief I think many people encounter today is a lack of focus, especially in this digital world.
Kids and adults alike have too many distractions that are ready to take our attention away from important work.
And more noticeably, our attention spans are reducing to more than a goldfish’s limited attention span, thanks to Tik Tok and all other platforms trying to compete with them to create shorter content. We don’t have the patience and the ability to focus on one thing for too long.
So to get any work done on time, they need to learn how they can sit and focus on one task at a time for a long time. To do this, help them to lock their devices away when they are studying and use them only during the allotted hours.
Multitasking is not good for developing sharp focus. Hence ask them to do one task at a time and sit with it until completion.
Focus is like any muscle you can develop with continuous use. If they have a hard time focusing, teaching meditation and mindfulness exercises can help.
The ability to focus consistently is helpful to get in the flow and get more done in a little time.
It was psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who invented the flow state.
According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, people find genuine satisfaction when they get into a flow state.
According to him, happiness is not a fixed state but can be developed as we learn to achieve flow in our lives.
And it’s not happiness alone, we get to produce great quality work when in a flow state.
Here is an article on the benefits of getting into a flow state.
Now, for kids to be focused and achieve a flow state, good study space is also required, which is the next point.
9. CREATE A STUDY ZONE
A proper environment to study helps kids to focus on their studies and get in the zone to study every time they enter the place.
A study zone can be an area where all the essential stationeries are kept so they don’t have to walk around the house to find things. It should be a distraction-free zone.
And also, make it a rule to leave their devices in other rooms when they enter the study zone.
10. TALK ABOUT THEIR CONCERNS
It’s not easy to teach time management to kids, especially the execution part, for which their cooperation is required.
They may not feel driven to do all the tasks all the time they are asked of. Parents require a lot of patience to help them build a routine so that students can stick to their schedules.
And students who experience learning disabilities may have a hard time coping with measuring time and planning ahead.
Understand your child’s problems and get help accordingly. Of course, Google is your friend here. You can also reach out to teachers and try to get advice on how you can help your child to develop better time management skills, as they have experience dealing with children with different problems.
- For developing good time management skills, kids need to learn to measure time and plan accordingly.
- Developing good planning and organizational skills will help kids to manage their time effectively.
- Remember to schedule break time and time for relaxing activities so that they can recharge themselves from stress.
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