Do you feel like you’re constantly nagging, begging, and pleading with your kids to get stuff done? Are you always late? Is homework not getting finished, and are chores a major argument? It might be time to teach your kids about time management.
At school, routine is the norm; everything is laid out for your kids. While routine has its place, your kids aren’t actually learning time management at school if there is no flexibility. As a parent, this is often glaringly true when you find your kids taking twice as long to accomplish tasks.
We’ve selected 10 time management tips to help your kids learn. Here we go:
Make it fun, make it a Game
Time management doesn’t need to be boring. Make time management fun with games and reward systems that make efficiency not feel like a chore. Create a reward system where your child gets to pick out a toy or get a sticker if they complete it.
Encourage your child to compete with themselves.
If it took them ten minutes to tidy up the living room yesterday, can they do it in nine minutes today? When you talk to your kids about time management, show your enthusiasm for the topic. Why do you love time management? What is fun about time management to you?
Use time management with not only chores and homework but also with free time. That way, your kids see time management as part of life, not just what their parents make them do when they don’t want to do something.
To effectively teach time management, you are going to need to start before your kids are teenagers. Begin with small age-appropriate things that need to get done.
It could be as simple as saying, “We’re going out shopping in half an hour, what do you want to do in that half-hour? If you do that, you won’t have time to do the other thing before. Is that OK?”
Set expectations from a young age and begin to teach them how to tell time and set a timer as young kids. Teach them from the start that time is not an infinite resource through your actions and age-appropriate conversations.
Establish Daily Priorities
You don’t need to have a schedule to teach time management to kids. In fact, it may be better to not have one. What do we mean?
Before you plan, sit down with your kids and chat about what their and your daily priorities are. These should be things that you want to do every day, as well as things that need to be done.
Include daily chores that are non-negotiable, like feeding the dog or watering the plants. Create a daily priority list for everyone in the family and give the kids daily chores.
You can also include on this list fun things you want to get done every day. It could be something as simple as, for a little child, “I want to play lego every day, so I can finish making that lego ship.”
For you, it could be, “I want to sit down and finish reading a book.”
Create a Plan
Once you have your list of daily priorities, it will be easier to make a day-to-day or week-to-week plan. Sure, you have some daily non-negotiables, but maybe this week, the kids have doctor’s appointments or a birthday party to go to.
Have your kids create a plan or list for themselves of what they want to accomplish. Maybe buy calendars they can color and accessorize.
The idea is that kids have a clear understanding of what their and their goals are. So, there are no surprises or unnecessary fights.
Anchor Points throughout the Day
A great way to keep on track is to have anchor points throughout the day. While the day will not be scheduled entirely, have specific times throughout the day where something happens.
Ideally, the anchor point is at the same time every day. Everyone needs to be there on time.
It is helpful to have more than one anchor point throughout the day. Mealtimes are a great time to check-in and make sure you’re on track.
Have the kids check their calendars and lists and ask them if they feel they are happy with their (and your) time management so far. Even if you don’t actively talk about time management during your anchor times, having a few set things in your schedule will help calm a more anxious child and provide structure for a chaotic one.
Time blocking is great for younger and older kids alike. It helps with focus and goal setting and is a great choice if there is a task that your kids just really don’t want to do.
Block times are a set period where your child focuses on a specific job. They work well in conjunction with anchor times. Block times don’t need to start at one particular time every day but could begin after an anchor point on any given day.
Plan your blocked times in advance or incorporate them when you need them. The length of time is entirely up to you and your child. Make it a manageable amount for their age range and personality.
For some kids, 20 minutes of focused homework is a feat worth celebrating. For other older kids, longer block times for homework, reading, music practice, etc., may be desired
Blocked times can be split up. If the kids need to do two hours of homework, break it into 20-minute blocks with 10-minute “reward” breaks. Block times could also be used to get daily (or random) chores are done efficiently.
Use Timers to Teach Time Management
Timers work wonders, especially in conjunction with block times.
Not only do timers set measurable expectations with your kids, but they also are a great way to teach kids about how time works. Use timers to set time goals for tasks or to tell your kids when it’s time to get ready to go out.
If you need to go grocery shopping in half an hour, let your kids know that you need to leave in half an hour and that you will be setting a timer for that amount of time. Setting a timer should help with arguing and help your kids realize their own time management skills.
You don’t need to be the one always wielding the timer. Consider buying your kids one or purchasing a watch with one for your kids, so they can get a grasp of how long time is and make their own games involving time.
Rewards of Time Management
The rewards of time management are numerous If you’re making time management a game, one of the rewards might be a physical gift. Even if you aren’t, make sure there is a clear correlation to your kids between managing one’s time and free time.
This should not just be a conversation. This should be explicitly seen by your kids. When they finish a task efficiently and well, they have more time for playing, screen time, or reading.
Reinforce the benefits of time management with rewards and stick with what you promise. The goal is for kids to be internally motivated to manage their time well. Giving them natural prizes like more time to pursue their passions is something that they can carry on doing at an older age.
Talk to your Kids about Time Management
Time management needs to be a continual conversation between you and your kids.
Ask them how their feelings about new time management trick your implementing. What do your kids think is working for them?
Explicitly outline what time management means to you and ask your kids what it means to them. It could be helpful to write your definitions down or draw a picture. “Time management means to me I have more time to play with my friends” is a very valid answer.
Have these conversations regularly, but encourage your kids to come to you if they have questions or feel like something isn’t working for them.
Be a Good Example
One of the best ways to teach time management effectively to your kids is to practice time management yourself.
Have your kids see you set limits for yourself, set timers, and make goals. Show them how your time management helps you throughout the day. Try to work through your thoughts that time management is stressful or tedious and try to replace those thoughts with positive ones.
Even if your kids can’t see what is going on in your brain, if you’re excited about time management, they are more likely to be too.
Only you know what is best for your family. Tweak, add, or eliminate any of the tips above if you find it is not serving your family.
What tips did you find to help teach your kids about time management? Let us know in the comments below!