By Dr. Raymond J. Huntington
There’s no doubt that the life of a student is busy. With six or more hours of school, as well as extracurricular activities, homework and studying each day, most children find that their schedules are full from the moment they wake up until they turn out the lights to go to sleep. How is a child to juggle it all successfully? By mastering the vital school and life skill of time management. Here are four great ways you can help your child better manage, prioritize and make the most of his or her time:
Plan ahead for all nightly assignments and bigger projects. At homework time each night, first spend a few minutes planning with your child. What assignments are due the next day? Approximately how much time will your child need to finish each? Would he or she prefer to finish the most difficult first or the easiest? For projects further out on the horizon, help your child develop a timeline with evenly spaced milestones toward completion. If it’s May 1 and he or she must read a book and write a report on it by May 30, figure out how much reading he or she must do each night to finish the book. Estimate how much time your child will need to finish the report. And always plan for a few extra days for review and revision time.
Keep a family calendar. When your child is in early elementary school, have him or her help you put all school and extracurricular obligations on a family calendar in the kitchen or another central place in the home. If instructions for a bigger project come home, together, plan your child’s schedule as discussed in #1 above, then immediately record each “due date” on the calendar. Help your child get in the habit of using the calendar to stay organized. As he or she approaches middle school, your child will be ready to use a day planner in the same way.
Let your child suffer the consequences of not managing his or her time well. It’s 8:30 p.m. and your child casually mentions a science project that is due the next day – one that he or she should have started weeks ago. Your first instinct might be to help your child build something into the wee hours of the night so that he or she will avoid a bad grade. However, doing so only teaches your child that procrastination will be rewarded with your help. The best way you can help your child is by teaching him or her to plan ahead next time and take responsibility and ownership for his or her homework and learning.
Plan for time required for all outside commitments. Every semester, sit down with your child and make a list of activities in which he or she would like to get involved. Then, discuss the time commitment. For example, your daughter’s dance class holds rehearsal two nights a week and on Saturday mornings. Incorporate this into her planned semester schedule – and periodically evaluate her ability to keep up with her school oblations. Planning ahead for the activities your child enjoys will help him or her be efficient with his or her time.
Practicing good time management is an important component of your child’s success in life. Children who are organized planners are far more likely to do well in school, be less stressed and find time for the things they want to do – in addition to the things they have to do. Teach your child to embrace a consistent routine, be organized and plan ahead, and he or she will be able to achieve his or her goals and be happier overall.
Parents who want additional information are encouraged to call the local Huntington Learning Center at 1800 CAN LEARN.
Dr. Raymond J. Huntington and Eileen Huntington are co-founders of Huntington Learning Center, which has been helping children succeed in school for more than 30 years. For more information about Huntington, call 1-800 CAN LEARN.
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