Time management is complex whether you are young or old. Time is all we have so it is important to use it well. Habits are important tools to help us manage our lives. Planning, reviewing , and revising are habits worth cultivatingfor the long run. Now that 2018 has begun, it is a good time to pause, get the big picture and review, reflect and revise.
Time management overview
* Sit down with your child to examine how they spend time. Include school, sleep, meals, sports practice, homework time, social activities, church, free time, etc. A color coded visual representation of a typical week can be very valuable.
* Use the color coded week to see if over-scheduling is a problem.
* Raise time awareness by pointing out conflicts. Let your child make the choice when it doesn’t involve a “must do.”
* Post a family calendar in an easy place for everyone to see. Use it to track family time, big classroom assignments and other important activities.
* Set aside time each Sunday to plan the upcoming week.
* Make a daily to-do list of school tasks and household chores that must be finished. Checking off completed items gives your child a sense of accomplishment.
* Make sure the family calendar is updated regularly.
The morning routine
* Prepare the night before. Choose clothing, gather books and assignments, and put everything in the designated spot.
* Start the morning with plenty of time. Eat a nutritious, calm breakfast.
* Make a list on an index card and tape next to door or a picture chart of the tasks in your child’s morning routine, such as brushing teeth, eating breakfast, and getting dressed. Have your child check each task as it’s completed.
* By outside door post a list of items needed to take to school: backpack, jacket, lunch, etc.
* Use specific verbal reminders. “Do you have your lunch?”
Getting organized for school
* Get a sturdy three-ring binder with colored pocket dividers for each subject. Coach your child to slip all assignments into the proper section, and check regularly to see that it’s being done. Get your child a planner that can go in this binder where your child can write down assignments and due dates in one place. Or use an accordion folder with a label for each section and a place for the planner.
* Include a pocket labeled “do” and “done”.
* Provide a calendar or assignment page for noting homework, tests, projects, etc. Copy this information to the family calendar.
* Enlist the teacher’s help, if needed, to ensure assignments are entered into the binder or planner consistently and correctly.
* Help your child maintain their binder by going through the papers with them, putting things in order, and discarding unneeded items. This is a good thing to do together, as it will help your child learn how to sort through papers to keep what’s still relevant or necessary and discard what’s no longer needed.
Structure for their room
* Survey your child’s room from their perspective. Talk to your child about the space and storage needs for their various supplies, activities, and treasures.
* Organize for each activity: e.g., getting dressed requires a hamper for dirty clothes, closet rods they can reach, and dresser drawers with enough space to stow things neatly.
* Use creative storage solutions. Try a shoe holder for action figures, games, or trading cards. Pots or plastic containers can neatly hold markers, crayons, or paint brushes.
* When the room is neat and organized, take photographs of how it looks and tape it in their room.
* When cleaning room, attack one category at a time. Start with books on shelf. Clothes in hamper. Help sort through their stuff on a regular basis. Work together to choose outgrown clothes and toys to be discarded or donated.
Good habits build character
New habits take time to learn, especially if bad habits need to be unlearned. Don’t give up. A child with LD or ADHD may need frequent reminders, lots of help, and consistency. Don’t hesitate to pitch in, so long as your child is there with you, they can benefit from watching you put things in order. Remember to reward your child’s successes and give them a little extra help when they’re feeling discouraged. The strategies you teach your child now will pay off their whole life. Notice when they are doing it well – “catch them doing good”.