by Brandy Centolanza
Balancing schedules and finding time to fit it all in during the day can be challenging, but parents can aid in the development of time management skills in their children to ensure success for life.
“In terms of time management, I think the cornerstone of what children in the current generation need is to learn patience,” pointed out Dr. Mary Callahan, a pediatrician with Preferred Pediatrics. “So many facets of our world deliver instant gratification. I encourage parents to practice patience with their kids. This will allow them to adapt better to changing schedules and hiccups that are inevitable to any time management approach.”
Here’s a breakdown by age of other ways to teach children how to handle their time efficiently.
Toddlers & Preschoolers
While children in this age group may not fully grasp the concept of time, they thrive on daily routines. Reminding them of the order of the day — first we dress and brush our teeth, then we can play, or bath time and story time are after dinner — helps reinforce the routine. Incorporating games or setting a timer to show how long a task should take can be beneficial to preschoolers. Parents should set regular times for meals and bedtime and stick to them.
Moms and dads should provide a calendar or a weekly planner to children once they enter school, and encourage them to add any projects and test dates or important events as a reminder. Kids are busier than ever with school assignments, after-school sports, clubs and activities, and family obligations, and relying on their calendar can keep them from becoming overwhelmed. Review their calendar with them each night and set a plan of what will happen when. Be sure to stress prioritizing tasks and avoid overscheduling. Children in this age range can also learn time management skills through household chores, particularly preparing a family meal.
Middle School & High School
Tweens and teens may find time management more difficult, particularly when you add friends and dating to the mix. Setting limits on screen time can be beneficial. Parents should model behavior through using their own time wisely and prioritizing what is important.
When it comes to school, “Having good organizational skills are critical,” said Carol Carpenter, counseling director at A.G. Wright Middle School in Stafford. “Have a set routine and place to do your homework, and collect the materials you will need before you get started. I can’t emphasize how important a daily routine is. A routine becomes a habit, and students will find themselves successful as good time management skills become a habit. A daily to-do list can be so helpful.”
Benefits of good time management skills include reduced anxiety when a school project or exam is approaching as well as overall better decision-making and performance in school or work; increased responsibility and independence; and more time for family, friends or even simply more time to relax and recharge.