The importance of children learning and developing time management skills at a young age cannot be under estimated. The earlier a child starts the more likely they will establish good foundations for time management that are useful not only at school but as teenagers and then throughout their lives. Personally as an organising expert I believe that we should be teaching our children time management skills just like we teach them to read and write. We often hear that the difference between successful and unsuccessful people can be their ability to manage time so we should also be ensuring our children and teens are effective time managers too.
The good news is if your child or teen isn’t a good time manager as yet then this skill can be taught and learned so you haven’t missed the boat so to speak.
I regularly ask this question when I run workshops for students of all ages as it lays the foundation for the sessions. The definition I use is quite simple – ‘it is the ability to use one’s time effectively and productively’ or in other words it’s about knowing how long something will take, sticking to a schedule and then making the most of the time you have to get done what you need to get done.
Your children have probably known how to tell the time since kindergarten or primary school. This is great and is one important aspect of time management as it focuses on the present. When I talk about time management thought it is not just about children or teen’s being able to read and tell the time.
In order for a child of any age to really understand time they need to understand time sense which is about being able to visualise it and unless they can they will not really learn how to manage it properly. In other words in order to create a sense of time in our children they need to see time passing, understand what time is and know how long something will take. It needs to be relatable so that they can understand and learn.
Younger children like the age of 2 and 3 like routines but usually live mostly in the present whereby their sense of time involves either the now or not now and they struggle to learn to wait. For 5 & 6 year olds they start to develop a better understanding of the past, present and future. This age group can anticipate events and starts to develop a grasp of what next week means compared to tomorrow and a long time ago. 7-10 year olds have developed the understanding of basic arithmetic which allows them to use clocks and calendars. Then for older children and into their teens they build on all of these foundations and have more sense of the now and not now as well as how long something should take.
Why can learning time management be difficult?
As I previously said children and teens need to see time and these days that can be a challenge. They are surrounded by digital media as well as digital clocks which can hinder the development of a their sense of time management. Digital clocks don’t allow for children and teens to see that time has a beginning, middle and end. These clocks show the ‘now’ time only.
The best way to teach this is to have analogue clocks in homes and schools so children can see time move. They can then see not only the present time but the time elapsing and then the future time as well. All of these are important to understanding and learning time management. A colleague of mine in the US actually suggests having an analogue clock in every room that children spend time in to assist this process. Many homes I go into these days may only have one or two analogue clocks. Let me get you to have an think about how many you have in your home?
Another useful tool for teaching time management could be something like the time timer. This is great for visual learners and helps make time real. The time timer is similar to that of a clock however it is is numbered in one minute increments and counts down from 60-1. The beauty of the time timer is it allows a child to see time passing and they can easily see the time that has elapsed and what time is remaining.
Remember it is important for your child to not only be able to tell the time but to understand time not only has a beginning but a middle and an end. This will allow them to utilise the time that have better when they need to do so!
If you have a child that is struggling with time management and you are not sure what to do then get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can start to rectify that right now.