Let’s start out by throwing out there that the section of our brain (the frontal lobe) that controls things like time our ability to keep track of time, prioritize, apply previously learned information to solve current problems and yes, our ability to manage time, does not fully develop until an individual is in their mid-twenties. That being said, children are expected to do most of these things the minute the begin school, if not before.
Before beginning this entry, I wrote on a sticky note next to my desk “REMEMBER REASONABLE, REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS”. I believe this is the key when working with children to help them strengthen time management skills.
Modeling: One of my favorite sayings applies here; kids are sponges. They’re always watching, and learning from what others around them are doing
Using a timer: When asked to gauge time, I am sure 15 minutes is more like 3 minutes when your kiddo is doing something they don’t want to do. Completely the opposite when the timed activity involves something they treasure. Using a timer that will buzz, sing, DING, make some kind of noise to let everyone know HEY! TIMES UP! will help your kiddo begin to learn just how long a certain increment of time is. It also keeps everyone honest, in that if mom says only 15 minutes of game time, DING, we all know when the 15 minutes is up.
Increments of 15: Piggy backing off of the using a timer bullet point, using smaller increments of time for younger kiddo’s, or kiddo’s who really struggle to get tasks done in the allotted amount of time can be helpful. For example, Elizabeth is struggling to get ready for bed in a reasonable amount of time. Instead of setting the timer for 45 minutes, which is the total amount of time it should take to do a number of activities like, take a shower, brush her teeth, comb her hair, put on her clothes etc., it may be more helpful to set the timer for 5 minutes for the shower, 2 minutes for teeth brushing, 5 minutes for hair brushing and styling…whatever it takes.
Using increments of time can help at any age. It’s a great time management tool for homework time as well. Adding in a small reward for each time increment that is reached productively without getting off task, and you’ve got a winner!
Written reminders: My favorite time management tool! NOTES! Get creative here, if your kiddo struggles with their bathroom routine (seriously, it’s been an hour, I can hear the water running…what are they doing in there!?) tape their routine to the mirror. Step 1. Brush teeth Step 2: Comb hair…and so forth. When initiating this step, make it a game! Create a routine for yourself and have a race, who can complete all of their tasks, correctly the quickest. This concept can be applied to any