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5 tips to teach kids to keep track of their time

Kids who manage their own time do better in school.

GreatSchools Blog

By GreatSchools Staff

Managing time is an important skill kids need to be successful in school—and at home. (After all, they need to get their homework done on time!) Experts have found that kids who know how to manage their own time—who have what’s known as “self-discipline” — are more successful in life, whether it’s in college or a career. In fact, kids who have self-discipline have an even better chance at school success than kids with a high IQ!

But most kids need help learning how to manage their time. The good news is that time management is a skill that can be taught and learned. Here are a five ways to help your child learn time-management skills:  

Create a family timeline
Use a long strip of paper to create a timeline for the entire family. Allow each child to write down an important experience of every year of his or her life, like “Started kindergarten,” “Lost my first tooth,” “Get our pet cat.” This exercise will help kids get a clear sense of time over the years.

Make an "On time" sheet
On a sheet of paper, write down a basic timeline of your child's school day:
7:00 a.m. – Wake up
7:30 a.m. – Be dressed and downstairs for breakfast
8:00 a.m. – Leave for school
3:00 p.m. – School's out!
6:00 p.m. – Homework is finished
7:00 p.m. – Dinner
8:00 p.m. – Bedtime
Post the sheet on the refrigerator or your child's bedroom wall – anywhere your child will easily see it. This will give kids a sense of their day, and also helps them be more aware of time. (And since their schedule is all written down, you might have fewer arguments about when it's time to get to school, do their homework, sit down to dinner, and go to bed!)

Cut down on screen time
Television is one of the biggest time-sucks for kids (and, admit it, for adults too). Decide with your child how many hours of television she’ll watch per week. Read the TV guide aloud with her and discuss which programs she can watch, have her circle the shows, and then keep the marked-up guide next to the television. If she’s watching too much TV, have her cut back the first week, then more the following week. This makes her more aware of how much time is spent in front of the tube, teaches her to take responsibility for screen time, and might even open up her schedule for other fun activities.

Use a chore chart
This is an especially good exercise for kids who need to learn to manage their own after-school time. Have your child create a chart and fill in all of his responsibilities, like setting the table at 5:30 p.m. or doing homework at 7:30 p.m. (Or download and print out our Chore chart). Then have him check off each task when he’s done.

Use a homework chart
Have your child make a homework chart and list assignments for Monday through Friday. (Or download and print out our Homework chart.) After she’s finished each assignment, she can put a check mark next to it. This teaches children how to keep track of deadlines and duties.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

02/9/2012:
"My son is only 5, do you think is time to start? "
02/8/2012:
"This really helped me with my 8year old little girl. I am right now trying to teach her to have more self discipline. This article was quite timely. I'm going to use the helpful tools and see how they work. Keep an eye out or our progress!! "
01/12/2012:
"thanx really helped "
11/3/2011:
"My daughter has a huge issue with finishing things by a specific time or a moderate amount of time. I have tried telling her okay you have till this time to be done with her hmw but it doesn't work. "
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