“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” by Rodin


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Children nowadays are expected to carry many responsibilities by the time they reach their pre-teens.  Juggling academics, sports, friends and other activities successfully is of paramount importance, making effective time management one of the most valuable skills parents can instill in their children from a young age.

According to a new study from the University of Pennsylvania, self-discipline in connection with time management has proven to be a better predictor of academic performance in young students and adolescents than IQ, which may explain why some children excel in other recreational areas as well, from sports to music.  Interestingly, the same study also purports that girls tend to be better with time management than boys!

Here are a few tried-and-true ways to teach young children that managing their time effectively can be gratifying and fun.


Time is Telling

A great starting place for parents attempting to cultivate good time management habits is to teach children how to tell time, so they can begin conceptualizing their day or week in units, and can start to measure the duration of their own life experiences.This establishes a vital relationship between time and a child’s perception of value in terms of time, from simply daily routines all the way up to major milestones.

Make a Budget!

“Time is money.” (Ben Franklin)  We’ve heard it a million times, but clichés are clichés for a reason.  In the same way your child might save up their allowance for something special as a gift to themselves or for a loved one, it can be equally helpful for children to establish a time budget, which breaks down tasks or responsibilities and provides a concrete baseline for how much time should be allotted to each specific item.  Saved-up free time can then be applied towards an event or activity, something your son or daughter considers special!

The Power of Prioritization & Guesstimation.

New York Kids Club CEO and mother of four, Pam Wolf, weighed in on how she helped her children establish efficiency early-on: “I believe strongly in children using a planner from an early age and writing out everything that they have to do.  We used to sit together and estimate how long each school assignment would take in their estimation so that we could assign a time to the task.  I found this to be very helpful because I see that time really gets away from a child.  Three hours can go by and they have not completed something that they themselves assigned a one hour time limit to.
“This way when I say ‘It’s 7:00.  According to your plan you will be done with this at 8:00.  Let’s break for a snack at that time  (or something so that they know I would be back to see if they were following their own schedule).’  This really worked for us and now they do the same for themselves as teenagers.
“In fact, we even have our executive team at the NYKC assigning times to their weekly task lists because as we all know how time can get away from us at any age!  This also gives us the ability to look at the schedule and determine what is just not possible to accomplish in the week based on the total number of hours that have been calculated.”

Incentives Programs!

By teaching children how to set priorities for themselves, they eventually learn where to spend most of their time, a little less time, or a medium amount, and also develop a sense of pride surrounding setting goals and reaching them.  If, for example, children finish their homework on time, they might be rewarded with a little extra time before bedtime that can be devoted to family or friends, television, surfing the Internet (supervised, of course!), or whatever they feel is an important use of free time.
The sense of gratification that can be derived from “earning” extra free time will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Show, Don’t Tell

One excellent way to encourage your child to adapt healthy time management habits – is to lead by example.  Children are so amazingly intuitive that they will pick up on your habits without any verbal exchange or guidance at all.  If you are always late or behind schedule, or you don’t show respect for the value of your time (or the time of others), your children will follow suit.  If, on the other hand, your own schedule is organized, and you strive to set a positive example, your children will absorb good habits by proxy, and then it can become a positive, self-perpetuating cycle.
Dorothy Rich, author of MegaSkills: Building Our Children’s Character and Achievement for School and Life, says that through establishing discipline early on, parents will be able to stay nag-free as their children grow into teenagers.  “Parents have to get out of the position of being the nag,” she says. “The ultimate goal is to help children build internal self-discipline and a capacity to manage themselves.”
"Effective Time Management Skills for Children." Http://blog.nykidsclub.com. N.p., n.d. Web.