Every busy parent, wishing for more than 24 hours in the day, has tried to come up with ways to make more efficient use of their time. By establishing efficient routines and reasonable schedules in your home, you have the ability to do just that. You might even find yourself with enough time to plan fun extra activities to do with your family. Rhona M. Gordon, a speech pathologist, organizational specialist and author of Thinking Organized for Parents and Children, has these tips for parents to try:
- Start early! To save time, everything in your house should have a designated place, including: back packs, lunch boxes, coats etc…Start practicing over the summer by having children put the items they use daily, such as swim bags or sports equipment, in a pre-arranged spot. It sounds simple, but it is true– it’s easier to find something if that item has a home.
- Set up a monthly calendar with each child. Begin by listing holidays and birthdays. Use your school district’s global calendar to add school vacation days, exams or other testing dates and any other important events. When school begins, help your child expand the calendar with a color coding system: red for tests or quizzes, blue for long-term projects, black for nightly homework and green for fun activities. Being able to see activities for an entire month helps children plan and organize time more effectively.
- Practice estimating time with activities such as a family dinner or sports practice. Begin by practicing this skill with everyday activities over the summer, and then encourage your child to use the same strategy with his or her homework. By recognizing the actual amount of time necessary for schoolwork, chores and fun activities, your child gains an awareness of the passage of time and the importance of managing time efficiently.
- Teach your child how to divide long term projects into manageable tasks. Once again, it is best to practice this strategy with fun activities over the summer, and then apply the skill to schoolwork in the fall. It is easy to combine this strategy with practicing how to estimate time accurately. For example, have your child list the steps associated with preparing a family dinner, such as choosing the menu, finding the ingredients, cooking the food, setting the table, eating, clearing the table and washing the dishes. After the activity is divided into specific tasks, your child can estimate the time each step will take and compare this to the actual time. Learning how to divide large projects helps students initiate and complete daunting academic assignments by breaking the large task into manageable pieces.
- Avoid procrastination. Some students cancel afternoon or weekend plans because of homework but still delay completing the work until the last minute. Teach your child to pair difficult or boring tasks with a reward by modeling. You can explain that you have been putting off cleaning that closet or junk drawer, but have decided to get it done and then reward yourself with a long bubble bath. Working from a “To Do” list helps both you and your child prioritize tasks and plan time effectively.
As children become more conscious of time, it is easier for them to succeed in school and extracurricular activities. Fortunately, time management skills can be learned. Parents can help students become aware of time every day: how it is spent, how it is wasted, how it is planned, and how quickly it passes. Practicing time management strategies will help your student become a better manager of time and ultimately benefit the whole family.
More tips from Rhona Gordon are available online at www.ThinkingOrganized.com.