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Tips to Teach Kids Time Management

Time management is an important skill to instill in young children. As we turn the corner towards the start of the school year, many summer habits need to be changed to succeed. It’s important to note that while time management skills are good for the school year, they last their whole lives. Below we provide some tips to teach kids time management that ensure that your child succeeds in the school year and throughout their life!

Set a bedtime.
Ease your kids back into a consistent sleep routine one or two weeks before school starts. Kids ages five to 12 need an average of ten to eleven hours of sleep per day. Set a reasonable bedtime and stick to it.

Turn your child’s routine into a checklist.
This is the best thing you can do to reduce family stress during the week. Most kids generally follow the same daily routine during the school year—take a shower, get dressed, etc. Instead of constantly asking your kids to get stuff done, work with them; create a personal checklist that includes personal care tasks and age-appropriate chores. Hold them accountable to finish their tasks. When you hear “but I didn’t know!” or “what should I do now?” send them to the chart—no more excuses.

Have the kids create their own calendars.
Work with your kids to add afterschool activities to a virtual or physical calendar to help them see what their days will look like and make the mental shift back to school. The earlier your kids start learning about calendaring, the more independent they will become—and the less you’ll have to do for them (which is a good thing!).

Put time on their side.
While your kids probably know how to tell time, they may not understand why it’s important. Help them develop a greater awareness of time by buying a watch and teaching them how to gauge the time needed to complete routine tasks.

Teach kids to plan.
Being somewhere on time (whether it’s a traditional classroom or the dining room table), prepared and ready to learn, requires planning. Does your child need to get homework together? Does she need sports gear for an afterschool activity? What time does your child need to get up to be ready on time? Post a checklist including what they need to do and what time to do it, so everyone is accountable for their own schedule.

Establish set meal times.
Setting regular mealtimes for the entire family (e.g., 7 a.m. breakfast) will not only help kids become more aware of time, but it helps ensure time spent together as a family.

Establish rules for electronics (goodnight, tablet!).
We all know that it’s not good to be glued to screens 24/7. Many parents establish the “what, when, and how much” related to screen time, but it’s also a great idea to set a concrete “bedtime” for technology when all screens are turned off for the night. Yes, parents, too.

Designate a study zone.
Kids need a designated study area where they can do homework without being distracted. Do you have a plan for the papers that come home from school? Some you’ll need to keep while others can be “filed” in the recycling bin. Figure out how you will manage the paper flow.

Let your kid’s voice concerns.
Give your kids the opportunity to voice what concerns they have about going back to school. New teacher expectations, rules, or a new school can cause anxiety. Once they’ve shared concerns, brainstorm solutions. Having an action plan can help ease fears and smooth the transition for everyone.

Be a coach, not a manager.
With the return of school comes added responsibilities and more opportunities for parent-child conflict. Consider making a mental shift—from your kids’ manager to their coach. As a manager, you nag your kids to get things done because you feel responsible for the outcome. That’s when everyone digs in their heels, and the power struggle ensues. As a coach, you instead act as a caring outsider providing guidance and support. You empower your kids with facts and then step back and allow them to make choices—good or bad—for themselves. It’s liberating for everyone and builds kids’ self-confidence for the long term.