By Dan Olberg, Principal, Park Elementary
Leave a message, send a fax, write an email, jot down a post-it, make a list, meeting at 6:00, basketball at 7:00, hockey at 8:00, balance the checkbook, read a book, clean the house, wash the dog, fix the faucet, and if we are lucky – find time to fish. Sounds familiar doesn’t it. Today, we seem to put more on our plate than ever – for many good reasons. Children, too! How does this impact them? Will they continue with this trend? What can we do to help them acquire the ability to keep everything balanced?
For some children, it seems like they have it all together and that they need very little support from adults. They are the type that naturally keep their rooms in order and lay out their clothes for the next day. They even help keep the adults in their family on schedule with helpful reminders such as, “Dad, we need to get going or we will be late!” For others it is our job as parents to help put more emphasis on time management and have more discussions about how the after school activities throughout the week can cause a chain reaction to daily studying habits and personal free time. We know that in school, the connection between success and the ability to organize becomes very clear as children get older.
So what can we do as adults to help instill this very important skill? Should we let them learn the hard way? Do we structure their day for them? There is no answer that is the right answer for every child. In fact, within a family, siblings have different skills for handling time management and the ability to complete important tasks. One thing is for sure: all students do need direction and support from their parents regarding how to organize and balance their time for success at school and out of school activities.
The following suggestions may help you and your child manage their time and busy schedules.
- A study routine. Help your child decide when and where they will study. They should study every day, preferably at the same time. Their study spot should be quiet, neat and comfortable.
- Assignments. Have your child use an assignment app and calendar to keep track of due dates. Show them how to make daily “to do” lists. 7-8 year olds are totally capable of doing this for themselves.
- We just need to teach them and encourage them to do this on a daily basis until it becomes a habit.
- Belongings. Make sure your child has specific places to put things. For example, they might leave their book bag by the door each night or give their favorite jeans a special place in the closet.
- Screen time. Children should not be on their screens for more than 10 hours per week (outside of homework time). To limit viewing, ask your child to plan when they will be on their device each day and try to limit them to that time.
- Other activities. Encourage your child to write commitments, such as basketball practices and social events on a calendar. Use job charts to organize family chores that need to be done during the week and let them decide on when that will occur.
As in all experiences in life, some children acquire organization skills more naturally while others need constant support from kindergarten until 12th grade. When children start off with good time management, they’re more likely to stay that way throughout their life. As adults, being organized leads to less stress and better success. Remember that organizing saves time, and more time means more opportunities for fishing!