Time management is an organisational concept traditionally associated with adults and the workplace. The experts tell us that more efficient use of time means greater productivity. So organisations encourage individuals to prioritise, plan ahead and make the most of the time that they have at work.
It is important that working parents are good managers of time so they can meet the demands of children and partners, keep a boss happy or a business afloat while maintaining some personal time. Sound planning helps us to lead a balanced life because it increases the use of discretionary time at our disposal.
Time management is not just for adults. Kids also benefit by putting some basic management techniques into practice.
In the early years of school you can help kids to become organised by displaying in a simple chart which outlines special activities for each day. Encourage children to refer to the chart each morning and plan ahead. For instance, if Tuesday is library day they can pack their borrowing bag and any books to be returned.
As children learn basic time concepts such as weeks and months give them a calendar to place on their bedroom wall. They can cross off the days or countdown until special events such as birthdays or the end of term. They can also use a calendar to plan each day including their after school activities.
As children progress to the upper end of primary school more complex management and planning skills are needed, particularly to deal with homework. In fact, many Year Six teachers include some time management in their programs as they know that children with good organisational skills are more likely to cope with secondary school where they have multiple teachers who all set homework.
Parents can help upper primary and secondary students better manage their time in the following ways:
* Provide your child with a student diary. You may convert an old exercise book into a diary or buy one designed for young students. Encourage children to place important events such as after school activities and daily homework in their diaries. My eleven year old son sits with my wife and I each Sunday night as we compare our diaries for the coming week.
* Teach your child to break complex homework tasks such as projects into smaller jobs and then plan out the work. If a project is due in two weeks, work out what needs to be done and work backwards from the due date.
* Encourage children to measure the time they spend on homework and encourage them to work efficiently and quickly. It is a common for students to think they have spent hours doing homework when really they have frittered much of their time away sharpening pencils, arranging books or playing games on the computer. Sometimes establishing a set time such as thirty minutes is an effective way of encouraging kids to work quickly.
* Help children to prioritise their work if they are busy. When teaching Year Six I used to encourage children to categorise their homework as either Important, Urgent or Both. Important meant that the task needed considerable attention to detail or research before it could be completed, while Urgent meant that it was due soon, usually the next day. If a student gave work a category B for both then it was panic stations as they had a great deal of work to do in a short time. The point of this exercise was to help students get on top of their work rather than leave it until the last possible moment.
A valuable time management technique for adults and children is to establish a work routine that suits individual physical requirements as well as schedules. My son is a night owl who can work really productively after dark whereas I have a daughter who tends to crash when the sun goes down. Both children have different homework routines that reflect their physiological differences.
Time management for children is primarily about self management. I am not suggesting that children abandon their wonderful sense of spontaneity and slavishly regulate their days, however some basic planning strategies can help them deal with their load.
Michael Grose is The Parent Coach. For seventeen years he has been helping parents deal with the rigours of raising kids and survive!! For information about Michael's Parent Coaching programs or just some fine advice and ideas to help you raise confident kids and resilient teenagers visit http://www.parentingideas.com.au