Is time management for kids that much different than time management for adults? I would argue, yes. Even as a child, this was a problem area for me. Part of my problem is a developing strategies and then sticking with them. Sometimes it could be as simple as some of these time management tips for kids. Maybe if I’d tried some of these as a child, those habits would have stuck with me as an adult. You could even say that time management is another key for raising kids with character.
10 Time Management Tips for Kids
These skills must be developed and practiced on a regular basis. And time management goes a long way when it comes to establishing self-discipline in kids. Here are a few things you can do to ensure children effectively set priorities and manage time.
1. Fine-tune parents’ skills. In order to keep your children on time and focused on the important things, begin by fine-tuning your own priorities, routines, and time management skills. Not only are you setting a good example for your children now, but for the future as well.
When your children have kids of their own, they will have a good idea of what they should do as a parent. Look at how you can improve your priorities, and routines, as well as your time management skills. Make adjustments where they are needed.
For more help with this, be sure to check out my time management tips for stay at home moms.
2. Identify wants, needs, and time limits. As you go through the day, let your children hear what you are thinking as you prioritize and make decisions. For example, “I want this chocolate bar but I don’t need it. I’ll wait to get it some other time.” “I want to stop by Janie’s house too, but we need to get the ice cream into our freezer before it melts.”
If your children are a bit older, you may want to have a conversation specifically about wants, needs, priorities, and time limits.
Depending on the children’s ages, you could make up a word game where you say a word and the children identify the item as a need or want. Older children can take it a step further. When they identify something as a “want”, they can then think of a scenario when the item would be considered a “need”.
3. Establish children’s routines. Following a routine is extremely important to babies and young children- and individuals with special needs. They help the kids feel safe and know what to expect. While babies will have a limited amount of input regarding routines, they will let you know when adjustments need to be made.
Young children are able to “help” establish parts of their routines.
As you decide what to include and when to include it, give the children a choice and a voice when possible. This gives them a feeling of ownership and sense of control. When the children know that their opinions matter and you will help them make adjustments as needed, they are more likely to follow routines with less procrastination and complaining.
4. Keep track of time. Place at least one clock in each room of the house. As you and your children go about your daily activities, having the ability to check the time is the key to staying on a schedule. As soon as your children are old enough, give each one and age-appropriate watch. Depending on the activity, you may also want to have a few small timers in specific rooms such as in the kitchen and the study/work areas.
Want something different? Try making a time log for your kids.
5. Plan and schedule it. Maintain and check calendars. Each family member needs an individual calendar, which contains his or her own personal routines and scheduled items. As a parent, you will need to maintain a master family calendar or planner. This should include the highlights for each of the children and the adults.
This information can also be added on a whiteboard in the kitchen. As information and plans change, everyone can make the update there as well as in their personal planner.
This gives everyone a central place to find out what is going on. Can’t find mom? A quick look at the whiteboard let’s everyone know she’s run away from home and will be back when she’s found her sanity.
Depending on your child’s age, you could also look into getting them a planner.
6. Set personal priorities. On a daily basis, each person should set four personal priorities or “must dos” in their personal schedules. There should be at least one priority in each of the areas – school or work, home & family, self, and others or volunteering.
7. Create a productive study/work area. Children need to study and work in an area that contains all of the tools and information needed to complete the task. Choose an area of the house that is quiet. While children sometimes prefer a bit of white noise in the background, the area should be rather quiet initially.
The area should also be comfortable, with a variety of places to sit and work. This allows children to change positions according to current needs and moods. While good lighting is a must, it is also important to provide for multiple lighting needs. This can be accomplished with a dimmer switch on the overhead light or a 3-way table lamp.
8. Make a study/homework plan. Outside of the family, school is the most important thing in your children’s lives. They spend most of their days learning and a good portion of their afternoons/evenings practicing what they have learned. To help them keep things balanced, work with them set up a daily homework/study routine and a study plan as soon as they start to school.
Obviously, the plan will change as your children get older.
However, begin by noting when and how each of your children learns best during the day as well as the afternoon/evening hours. Even if there is little or no homework in a specific subject, read over the notes made in class. Reviewing a little each day is far more effective than trying to learn everything just before a test.
9. Limit distractions. While limiting distractions and interruptions is important for everyone, it is very important for children who have difficulty maintaining their focus. Keep in mind that there are external distractions and internal distractions. In many cases, it is much easier to limit or avoid the external distractions.
For the most part, it’s just a matter of manipulating the environment.
Internal distractions are often a little more difficult to control. The solution in many cases hinges on the children’s ability to self-regulate impulsive behaviors and thoughts. Until children are able to do this on their own, you will need to help them identify the behavior or thought pattern and redirect them back to the task at hand.
10. Keep it organized. Organization is a major factor in time management as well as setting priorities and meeting goals. In fact, effective organizing is the glue that holds everything else together. For example, if a routine or schedule has been set up but nobody remembers what it is, the routine isn’t doing anyone any good.
So, make sure that everything from routines to study tools and supplies are organized in a way that enables everyone to find the items and information needed in a timely manner.
By starting with these tips, over time, your kids can learn to wisely manage their time.