6 Easy Ways To Teach Kids Time Management Skills

6 Easy Ways To Teach Kids Time Management Skills

Do children understand statements such as "You're going to be late for school" or "You need to get up early?" Isn't time a difficult concept for them? Imagine teaching them time management!

Doesn’t it sound impossible?

Well, fret not. When it comes to time talk, teaching children to manage time is as important as teaching them how to tell time. So while you introduce your child to telling time, you can simultaneously introduce him/her to time management.

But how?

Writing this piece, reminded me of a strategy that Stephen Covey talks of in his book Strategies of Time Management, which is aimed at prioritising.

His strategy on giving tasks an order is simple, and we all know that with children, simple things work best. So following Covey’s advice on keeping it simple and categorising each task based on priority, I’ve shortlisted a few fun activities.

6 activities to teach your kids time management skills

1) Make a calendar
Let’s start at the simplest activity — making your own calendar that’ll list the dates, but work as a kiddie planner as well. With their own planner-calendar, children will understand the importance of days and timelines better.

What you’ll need
• 13 sheets of coloured paper : 10" x 20 " ( length x width)

• Colour pens, pencils, and crayons

• Alphabet and number stencils

• 12" scale

• Decorative stickers

Here's what you do
• Let the child draw a table of 7 x 5 (columns x rows) on 12 coloured sheets. Let the squares measure at least an inch like a chessboard.

• On every sheet, let him/her name the month and days. Then, number the small boxes to denote the date.

• Once you have 12 sheets with 12 months ready, let your child decorate them with stickers or paint his/her favourite cartoon characters. Stick the sheets together at the left corner or staple them together.

What to do next
• On the 13th sheet of paper, discuss and make a short list of things that your child does on a regular basis like studying, attending co-curricular classes, and playing.

• Note the things to be done on a particular date in the calendar. For instance, if you’re making the calendar on April 15, then start noting the activities for that date.

• Use simple keywords like studying, playing, football class, art class, and so on.

• As your child notes down the activities for any date, talk to him/her about planning a day.

• Gradually as your child grows up and his/her activities during the day increase, you can talk about time management and allocate time for important activities.

2) 10 minutes to brush teeth This one is just like making a personal calendar, but with a twist. Here, we are making a time chart for the child to refer to on a daily basis. Waste time and the time chart will tell!

Things you’ll need
• Chart of any colour

• Colour pencils and crayons

• Notebook and pencil

What you’ll do
In the notebook, list out the number of compulsory things that your child has to do everyday — brushing teeth, bathing, changing clothes, packing school bag, eating food, and so on.

• Let the child denote a timeline for each. Example: 10 minutes to brush teeth, 10 minutes to take a bath, 5 minutes to drink milk, and so on.

• Check with your child the length of time he/she is allocating for every activity because he/she might not understand how much time 10 minutes actually is so help him/her with a stopwatch or clock.

• Transfer the final list on the chart using colour pencils or crayons. For every activity, there is a discussed timeline.

• Let the child decorate the chart and stick it in his/her room.

What happens?
The child enjoys referring to the chart while doing his/her daily activities. Plus, it makes doing the mundane activities fun.

Slowly, as the child grows older, he/she will start respecting time allocated for everyday things and will learn to stick to a schedule.

Try it, it works!

3) Fun way to teach time management: Hourglass
An hourglass is the oldest technique man had employed to tell time. Why not use it to teach children to manage time better?

Things you’ll need
• Thick plastic sheet (5" x 5")
• A piece of string
• A small piece of cardboard
• A pair of scissors
• Super glue
• Dry beach/garden sand
What you’ll do
• Roll the plastic sheet into a cylinder. Secure with glue.

• After the glue dries, hold the cylinder from the middle and tie the string around it so that the end result looks like two cones joined from the tip. While tying the string, make sure it’s not too tight and there is room for the sand to pass through.

• Cut the cardboard into circles, measuring the diameter of the cones.

• Stick the cardboard to one side of the conical structure. After sticking the cardboard, the structure should be able to stand without support.

• From the other open end, pour 50 gm of sand and then secure the open end with the other piece of circular cardboard.

• Let the glue dry. Your hourglass is ready!

The use • Firstly, children love the hourglass as it’s a thrilling mechanism for them.

• After we’re done making the hourglass, we can time it using a stopwatch.

• Share with your child the time that the hourglass takes to empty on one side. Ask him/her to time certain activities around it. For example, if your hourglass takes a minute to empty on one side, let your child do an activity and time it using the hourglass.

• Scheduling activities and managing time by using the hourglass is fun. Plus, the child starts racing against the hourglass and respecting time.

Cool, isn’t it?

Close the task
This one is a game where you get points for respecting time. Sounds interesting?

Here’s what you’ll need
• Ready-to-use activity books, worksheets

• Stationery: pencils, crayons, and colour pencils

What to do?
• Assign a page of the activity book/worksheet to your child and one to yourself.

• Assign a timeline for the activity/actionable on the page — say ten minutes a task.

• Time the child as he/she completes the page and time yourself as well.

• The person who finishes the task in the shortest span of time obviously wins.

• However, the twist is that unless both the players complete the task, they cannot go to the next round.

The end result
• Try and lose this game against your child by wasting time on your sheet.

• When you do that, your child witnesses the importance of following a timeline as well as completing the task. You also get an opportunity to talk to him/her about the importance of completing tasks within the timeline provided.

• Then simply add that this is called time management – the ability to complete compulsory tasks in the limited time provided to us.

Sounds like a lot of information but when you try it, it works!

5) Fill the pot
It’s a game with symbolic associations. Let’s see what this one involves.

What you’ll need
• A small jar

• Pebbles and stones of various shapes and sizes.

Rules The child has to fill the jar to capacity so that all the big stones are used. Plus, the jar cannot only be filled with big stones so the child has to use some small stones as well.

What you’ll do
Before you make your child play this game, test how many big and small stones actually fill the jar. Then provide the exact number of big stones to him/her and let the small stones exceed your count.

The game begins
As the child fills the jar, let him/her take several chances to use all the big stones. Avoid backseat driving and pass comments as the child plays.

What happens?
After several attempts, most children will be able to use up all the big stones as well as a few small stones to fill the jar.

When your child has achieved this, tell him/her that the big stones are like academics – the compulsory parts of the day. He/she has to make time for studies during the day, even if it is a lot of trouble and he/she doesn’t like to do it.

The small pebbles denote those tasks which do not make a huge difference to filling up the day – like watching TV. Hence, only a few of such tasks are enough.

Do this activity and be ready to answer a lot of questions on important and not-so-important activities. I say this from experience!

6) Puzzlers
Interested in making your own time puzzles?

Here’s what you’ll need
• Rectangular pieces of thick cardboard

• Colour pens

• A pair of scissors

What you’ll do
• Discuss with your child what he/she thinks are the main activities that waste time during the day. Get him/her to accept that too much TV is a waste of time and so is studying without focus.

• After the discussion, note a few keywords like television, playing with food while eating, and video games (you can choose specific words for your child since every child wastes time on different things).

• Write the specific words across the pieces of cardboard in a large font. Then cut the cardboard in a zigzag way to make small jigsaw puzzle pieces.

• You have made your own cardboard puzzles! When your child arranges all the jigsaw pieces together, the keywords will be formed which will reinforce the idea that these activities waste time. You can help your child solve the puzzle and talk to him/her about these ‘wasters’ of time as well.

Just a fun reinforcement of important details!

Start young
Teaching children how to manage their day properly is paramount. Like I said before, prioritising is the key. When we start young, we set the foundation for a better-structured day for them. It not only helps them health-wise, but academically as well.

Therefore, give these activities a shot!