As a busy parent, you may be thinking: Teach my children to manage their time? I can’t even manage my own! Then it’s decided. There’s no better time to start than the present.
Be it getting ready for school in the morning or finishing their homework, many parents take it as a given that children are simply time-challenged, and there’s little to be done about getting them to complete a task within a set schedule. But recent studies suggest that moms and dads would do well to approach time management as important and teachable as reading and writing.
In fact, knowing how to manage one’s time, say researchers, has been linked to later success in life, whether it’s in college or a career. A study from the University of Pennsylvania concludes that self-discipline — the driving engine behind time management — is a better predictor of adolescents’ academic performance than IQ. Indeed, for school-aged kids who have no ability to abide by a schedule, they may well have a rougher time, as responsibilities mount with age.
While some kids come by the ability to organize their time naturally, others do not. For whatever reason, girls tend to be better at time management than boys, which might help explain why boys don’t do as well in school and college. The good news? Time management is a skill that can be taught and learned. Dorothy Rich, author of MegaSkills: Building Our Children’s Character and Achievement for School and Life, says that through practiced exercises, parents can help toddlers to teens learn tangible ways to manage their time independently, rather than be hounded into getting something done — a strategy that never works. “Parents have to get out of the position of being the nag,” says Rich. “The ultimate goal is to help children build internal self-discipline and a capacity to manage themselves.”
Here are five useful tips for teaching children the importance of time management:
1. WHAT ARE MY PRIORITIES – Help your child make a hierarchy of priorities they can use as a master checklist to make better time management decisions. Better still, ask them to create one. For example, between doing their homework, having lunch with the family and playing computer games with friends, ask them to rank which one is most important.
2. CAUSE AND EFFECT – Have your child practice using the hierarchy of priorities when making decisions about how to utilize his time. Give him different scenarios and let him consider what should be done first, second, and third. For example, if he wants to go to a friend’s house, but also has to read the next 3 chapters of his science textbook, ask him to weigh his options. If he does the assignment now, he may be able to stay at his friend’s for dinner. If he chooses to do the assignment later, he has to be home before dinner so he’s not up late doing schoolwork. Work with him to figure out the best use of his time.
3. THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS- Be specific in their tasks, for instance, under School, he may have i) complete homework assignments, ii) study for tests iii) complete assignments, a detailed plan will ensure sufficient time is allocated and avoid unpleasant surprises.
4. IMPORTANT VS URGENT – The important vs urgent consideration or often times labelled as the Eisenhower Principle (past US president) helps your child make the distinction between what is important and what is urgent. Important means it will help them achieve their objectives. Urgent just means it needs immediate attention. Encourage them to work on the things that are important first. For example, working on a project that is due in a week may not be urgent but it is important. Your favourite cartoon is starting in 5 minutes, this may be urgent but unimportant. If its the final episode where the Autobots defeat the Decepticons, you can always record it 😉
5. PLAN AHEAD – Each evening have your child list on paper everything she needs to do, and use her hierarchy of priorities checklist to help her choose the top five or six priorities for the following day.
At the end of the day, successful time management really depends on whether you know what is important to you. A person may be great at time management but still get it all wrong. For example, a faithful employee who comes to work on time, sits at his desk and “sells” his time may be good at time management. His failure to present ideas convincingly, come up with creative solutions or think from the business’ perspective will however destine him to be left out for any promotional opportunities.
As you start to discuss time management with your children, do make sure you leave enough space for them to hone these other essential skills. Give them opportunities to speak, challenge them to think critically and involve them in projects that nurture creativity. Alternatively, send your children for a free trial class at GoodSchool. Besides time management, they will also learn all these essential skills for success in life.
Adapted from http://www.greatschools.org