Time management is a phrase that might sound like it's meant for people who read books like The Seven Habits of Effective People, not for your kids. But time management is just another way of saying, "setting aside the right amount of time for the things you have to do so that you have lots of time to do the things you want to."
Your kids are probably already highly skilled at the second part. It's the first part that can pose a problem. The trick to helping your kids get organized is to make sure they know what they have to do without being overly restrictive about how they do it.
Here are some things you can try:
- A good way to start is to sit down with your kids and make a list of all the tasks they have to do each day. After you've worked that out, ask your kids to rank each task's importance. (You'll want to make sure homework and chores end up at the top of the list, of course.) You could post this to-do list in a prominent place in your home and even ask your kids to check each task off as they finish it.
- Another great way to get organized is by posting a large dry-erase calendar in a prominent location. Everyone in your family can use it to list things like after-school events, practices, and trips. Not only can a calendar like this help you feel more on top of things, but it also gives you a longer-term view of what needs to be done. It can also help you avoid scheduling conflicts.
- Flexibility, though, is very important. Nobody likes being put on an hourly schedule every day of his or her life. Make sure your kids know that they have to keep up with homework and chores, but allow them some freedom in deciding when they will tackle these tasks. For instance, you could allow your kids to do either their chores or their homework before dinnertime, and then the remaining task before bed. Or you could set up a specific time for homework, and allow your kids freedom to choose when to do other things. This kind of freedom will let your kids develop their own organizational skills.
- If your kids seem hesitant about getting organized, try it for just one day. Talk about the experience afterwards and see whether your kids felt like they got more done than usual, and whether they had more time to do fun things. Chances are, the answer to both questions will be yes. If it isn't, talk about what changes you can make to the plan to improve it and give it another shot.
People practice time management every day of their lives, whether it's something as simple as taking a five-minute break in the middle of a tough workday or keeping a detailed appointment book. The habits you can teach your kids now will help them for the rest of their lives.
For more information on time management for kids, try one of these links: