David Bynes

MSW, LCSW, B.A./Ed.

Help Your Children Become Independent Learners By Teaching Them Time-Management Skills

FROM TUCSON PARENT MAGAZINE 9/15/2000

 

-By David Bynes LCSW

I believe that one of the most important ways parents can supplement school curricula is by teaching their children time-management skills.  This is the best time of the year to introduce them to some new tools to help them manage their time more effectively.  I believe that there are time management tools that every child can utilize from kindergarten, into adulthood.  The trick is finding the best tool for your children at their state of development.

Let your children clue you in.  Watch what they are interested in.  Keep track of their current time-management skills:

  1. Does your child know the days of the week?
  1. Can your child read a digital watch?
  1. Can your child understand the numbers and hatch-marks on an egg timer?
  1. Can your child use computer aided time-management tools?
  1. Does your child understand how the school calendar works – i.e. semesters and quarters?  (most don’t)
  1. How accurate are your child’s estimation of time…both the passage of time, as well as estimates of time needed for specific tasks like homework assignments?

Keeping track of your children’s development is key to presenting them with the MOST effective time-management tools.  However here are two time-management items that cost less than $10 a piece that almost any child could utilize:

A WATCH OR CLOCK

Some children might have a problem with losing watches, or destroying them.  These children might benefit more from having an alarm clock in their room.  Older kids might opt for the alarm clock radio, while the little ones may be happy with a simple children’s alarm clock.

If you feel your child is responsible enough to handle a watch, keep in mind that even children that can’t tell time at all LOVE watches!  PraiseChinafor manufacturing so many neat styles and designs of watches for children at cheap prices!  Alarm watches are great.  You can set it for your children, and help them learn that it is their responsibility to get themselves up in the morning.  Encourage your child to set the alarm herself to remind her when her favorite T.V. show is on, or when to get ready for soccer practice.  Many sports watches have both alarms and stop-watch functions.  Teach your children to use the stopwatch function to monitor their homework time.

A CALENDAR:

Children are required, usually by first or second grade, to carry some type of organizational tool such as a three-ring binder, or a manila folder.  If so, this is a great time to introduce your child to some type of planner, or portable calendar.  Your school might already provide one.  Sometimes I find that school planner publishers are so eager to win contracts with school districts, that their calendars—although eye catching and interesting—become too cluttered with puzzles and activities.  This makes it difficult for some children to focus, particularly children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Most children would be better off with the adult style planners such as those made by “Dayminder” and “Week at a Glance”.  I find children most receptive to the planners that include an address/phone section for keeping phone numbers and addresses for friends and family.  Help your child mark out important dates in the calendar, such as birthdays of family and friends, parties, school events, homework, tests, etc.  Encourage your child to use a highlighter to accent the events that are most important for your child.

WORDS OF WARNING:

Be careful about how you present these tools to your child.  If your child views usingthe watch or the planner as a chore, then he is much less likely to take full advantage of these tools.  However, if the child views the watch or planner as a “right of passage”, or a present, he will react more positively.  It is important that your child take ownership of these tools.  Include your children in the decision-making process.  Give them choices.  Go shopping together.

If you and your child are getting into power struggles regarding a time-management tool, than it is best to abandon suggesting that tool, and to try something different.  Special care should be taken for choosing tools for children with developmental disorders, learning disorders, ADHD, and Oppositional Disorders.  If your child has special needs, then it would be worth it to consult with a mental health professional specializing in children, before you decide which tools to introduce to your child.

It is normal for young children to lose things, so I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of money on these items.  It is important not to get too trapped into blaming and shaming children who have lost things.  Rather, try a new approach, such as giving your child an opportunity to buy a replacement.  Perhaps she can earn money to pay for half the cost.  If a child is repeatedly losing the item, then it is probably not the correct time-management tool for the child’s stage of development.

Teaching your children time-management skills provides your children with a sense of internal control rather than relying on external control-such as continued reminding and prompting from parents and teachers.  Getting these items for your children and teaching your children how to use them does require extra work as a parent, but your children will be greatly rewarded with added self-confidence, self esteem, and increased self-initiative that will follow them into adulthood.

-David  Bynes is owner of “Academic and Behavioral Center”  323-9835

www.abctucson.com. A private mental health service specializing in helping children and families with educational issues.  He holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Arizona State University, and is a state certified teacher.