Kids need time management skills. Not only are they critical to lowering stress but also for academic and career success. Here are the best tips and tricks for teaching them this core life skill.
Related: Life skills for kids
Top tips for teaching time management skills to kids
Show them the benefits of time management
One study on students and time management highlights how effective this can be in reducing stress and improving academic performance. While kids are unlikely to be impressed by this, you can show them this in action with their homework. Start by showing your kids how much time is wasted by putting homework off and spending ages complaining about it. Then talk about the stress of leaving it to the last minute and having it hanging over you until the last minute. Try a test where homework is done at a specific time every day (or week) for a set period and get them to track how they feel every time it's accomplished. Reminding them how much time they have saved for doing the things they enjoy.
Make learning time management fun
Most kids love a competition, so encourage them to do things in a set time frame. Who can shower in ten minutes? Who can tidy their room in half an hour? Tasks like these can help them stay engaged and motivated. Games are another fun way to teach kids about time management. Play games like Pictionary, Boggle, Tension, Articulate and Scattergories that use a timer to encourage kids to work within a time frame.
Use rewards to encourage kids
Reward charts are a great way to keep your child motivated for the task at hand. They also double as a to-do list, where your kids can see exactly what they need to do and when to do it and take pride in reflecting on all the hard work they've accomplished. Rewards can be anything from pocket money to stickers to extended bedtimes.
How to teach time management to kids
Teach kids to estimate time
The ability to judge time and how long things take is a skill that has to be learnt. You can help your child by teaching them to estimate time. Talk about ten more sleeps until their birthday, or use their favourite kids' programme to determine how long something will take. For example, two Peppa Pig shows till it's time for the park. With older children, you can use chore cards, give them a task and ask them to guess how long it will take. Then turn over a chore card to see why the chore takes that length of time.
Help teens manage their time
You'd think that teens would be good at time management due to their structured schedules at school. Yet, many of them can't manage their time or downtime because other people often do it for them. Give your teens a chance to get good at estimating time by not constantly reminding them they will be late.
Routines help with time management as they promote a sense of structure and predictability. For school-age kids, this is set for them with timetables and apps reminding them of homework and test deadlines. Alongside this, help them to create a routine at home for getting up and going to bed that factors in all the aspects they need to cover. Ask older kids to do this by estimating what time they need to wake up to factor in the bathroom, breakfast, dressing, and getting to school on time.
Use visual aids to help
Calendars, reward charts for kids, planners and diaries can all help kids understand and plan their time. With a visual representation of how long they have for an activity, kids become better at time management.
Encourage children to prioritise their tasks
To allocate time accordingly, kids need to be able to prioritise tasks. This means teaching them how to differentiate between urgent and important tasks. Urgent tasks require immediate action, while important tasks are those that need to be done, but not necessarily right away.
Teach kids to stay focused
To be good at time management, your child needs to know how to avoid distractions and stay focused. Help them by talking about what distracts them (phones, tablets, toys) and limiting these distractions when they are doing tasks.
Model good time management habits
If you are always running late, discussing missed deadlines and forgetting to do things on time, your child will learn the same from you. Tackle your own time management issues.
Write to-do lists
Writing down tasks and crossing them off as they are completed can help kids manage their time and stay organised and focused. Try post-it notes or a simple written daily list that they can tick off as they go.
Use mind maps
Lists don't work for all kids, so if your child is more visual, creating a visual mind map of tasks and deadlines can help kids organise their thoughts and prioritise tasks.
Buy a whiteboard
This is a handy tool for secondary school students to display timetables, homework tasks and deadlines visually and can help kids hone their time management skills.
Break tasks into smaller chunks of time
Tasks can be daunting, which is why kids often avoid them. One solution that helps with time management is to break big tasks down into smaller steps that take less time but enable your child to fulfil the task.
Talk about the consequences of poor time management
Make sure your child understands the repercussions of poor time management, from detentions for lateness at school to lower grades for lack of revision time and even missed opportunities like going out.
Popular time management techniques & tools to help kids
Time blocking. This involves breaking the day or a number of hours into specific periods for various activities, which can help kids stay on track and avoid distractions.
The Pomodoro technique breaks work into 25-minute intervals with short breaks in between. This can help kids stay focused and increase productivity, especially when studying and revising.
Time management apps. A good one for teens connected to their phones. Use apps designed specifically for time management, such as Forest, which incorporates the Pomodoro technique, breaking work into chunks with short intervals.
Time trackers: These tools can help kids understand how they spend their time and identify areas for improvement. These can be bought on Amazon as time tracker clocks and timers or downloaded as apps.
How can GoHenry help?
GoHenry is a prepaid debit card for kids that can help with time management and financial literacy. By being careful with their money over time, kids gain valuable life skills that can help them in the future. And by setting a range of tasks such as tidying their room, going to bed on time every day and doing the homework, you can help them with time management. Tasks can be set at daily, weekly or one-off intervals and be ticked off when done to help them earn extra pocket money.