You know what I’ve decided? I’m going to put a positive spin during “distance learning” and use this opportunity to teach time management for elementary students.
Yes, with my kindergartener.
Starting by teaching him how to tell time.
Can I let you know a secret? The idea of distance learning this fall terrifies me.
Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s necessary. I know it’s the safest option. But that doesn’t mean I can’t also be nervous.
I’m afraid because I haven’t figured out who is going to be supervising my kindergartener while he learns online and both my husband and I work. I’m afraid I’m going to get frustrated and take it out on him unintentionally. Not to mention the unprecedented amount of screen time, the lack of personal connections with other kids and his teacher, and regressions in social behavior.
And we’re both afraid of trying to keep him on schedule and with all of the activities without a fight!
Cue the desire to learn more about time management for elementary students, even the younger ones.
So let’s talk about it all. What is time management? Why is it important? What are some realistic expectations and helpful tips for this age group? me
And as an added bonus, I’ve included a completely free printable to help you organize your child’s day.
Who knows, maybe you’ll get better at time management yourself!
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In This Guide:
What is Time Management?
Time management is planning out your day with specific, timed goals and activities.
When you’ve reached a good understanding of time management for elementary students, you’ve taught them how to work efficiently so they accomplish all of their daily tasks. This includes both the necessary work (chores and school) plus the more fun tasks of their choosing.
In my mind, time management teaches you to be mindful and effective regarding your day.
Do you ever feel like you’ve been running around all day keeping busy but then have nothing to show for it?
This problem is likely due to a lack of time management. When you divide up your day (and your attention!) on too many tasks, you achieve less.
When your time is well managed, you learn to work smarter – not harder.
The Importance of Time Management for Students
It is incredibly important to teach time management for elementary students as this is a critical skill that will help them be successful their entire lives.
During school, it helps them prioritize school work, complete assignments in a timely manner, and leaves plenty of time for activities of their choosing. This helps eliminate the battle of fighting your children to complete their daily tasks.
In their personal lives, they will feel better about their productivity and efficiency as they grow in independence and have tasks they want to complete. This will cause less frustration in future relationships (with their family, friends, roommates, or partners).
Professionally, good time management (and the benefits that come with it) may mean they are more successful in their career and have increased opportunities for advancement. They will work efficiently and within given deadlines.
Finally, learning to manage your time effectively reduces stress and improves quality of work.
Wow, doesn’t that all sound great? Sign me up! How do I start?
Be sure to pin this now so you can reference it later and let other moms know the secret.
Time Management for Elementary Students Tips
All of those time management benefits may sound well and good, but the real trick is how you instill this understanding in your school-aged children.
We all have the same number of hours in a day. The trick is to make the most of those hours.
Here are a few tips to get started teaching time management for elementary students:
Make sure your work area is stocked with everything you need (pencils, glue, scissors, headphone, a ruler, and other supplies) before you get started.
This helps everyone stay on task and minimizes distractions.
Learn to Prioritize Tasks
School comes first, period.
Only after their school work is done can they move on to other tasks.
That being said, there may be a few exceptions.
Lunch obviously occurs in the middle of the day, even when school work hasn’t been completed. (Believe it or not, my son has tried to call me out on this. “But mooooommmmm, I thought you said we had to finish our school before we did anything else”.)
Or mom might need to go to the grocery store when it’s open to get something for dinner (although proper meal planning may have prevented this).
But in general, school comes before all other activities. To enforce this, I put a “school spin” on everything during the day.
My son needs a break after his morning class before he starts his homework? Maybe we switch gears to “science class” and play with blocks or cook something. Or he plays outside for 15-30 minutes and I’ll call it “PE”.
This reinforces the idea of school during the day – fun later.
But you have to learn to identify and prioritize school tasks as well based on their level of importance. This is our hierarchy- 1) live instruction, 2) upcoming assignments that are due, 3) daily reading/writing/math tasks, 4) optional assignments.
Write It Down
Check out my Daily Planner Printable I created for this purpose. It helps your little student visually plan out their day, understand time management, AND learn to tell time.
We write it all down. Yes, even lunch.
Be sure to let them cross it off when they’ve completed a task. Teach them that amazing feeling of accomplishment!
You’ll likely need to help them prioritize and write it down in the beginning. Gradually let your child help you more and more.
Pro-Mom Tip: Get a laminator NOW. Trust me. We’ve laminated our Daily Planner, school reference material, assignments, party supplies, and a million other things. It saves so much paper and ink since you can write with dry or wet erase markers, clean it off, and reuse over and over again.
When you’re planning out your day, be sure to allow for extra time – especially for the younger kids.
You want them to feel confident they were able to accomplish everything so they feel the benefit for themselves. It’s imperative you set realistic goals and time limits when working on time management for elementary students.
Break Up Big Tasks
For larger projects and assignments, break them up into smaller and manageable chunks.
I’ll admit, sometimes I feel ridiculous doing this. Over the summer, my son has been making a “robot” out of cardboard boxes. It’s a project that has involved a lot of gluing. Every day we’ve been allowing time to work on another part of the robot.
For school assignments, think about how you would logically approach them and talk about that strategy with your child.
For instance, maybe they need to draw a picture and write two sentences (a common kindergarten assignment). You could start by brainstorming what to draw/write about. Then you could draw a preliminary picture, write the sentences, and add details to the picture as indicated.
Based on the size of the task, it may be something you plan to work on over two or more days. Make sure you look at when assignments are due and work backward so you have enough time.
Plan Out Fun
Since you’ve prioritized school tasks, write those down on your Daily Planner first.
Then ask your child what they want to do after that. It’s important to let them choose so they have an incentive to finish their work.
My son the other day had two requests for his fun activities: draw a map of the backyard and measure how much water was in his rain catcher. So it’s important to remember sometimes they are looking forward to the little things!
Of course, maybe every once in a while you can have a surprise fun activity planned out. Maybe a special outing or craft project.
Don’t Skip Around
Once you’ve completed your daily plan, stick to it. Try not to skip around between tasks to maximize efficiency.
Reward Good Behavior
If they manage to accomplish all of their daily tasks, your student (and you) deserve a reward!
Keep track of days they crossed everything off their list with stickers on a calendar. When they’ve reached a certain number, give them their reward.
Maybe they’ve been eyeing a new toy, want to play a game on the computer, or have been craving going out for ice cream. Decide what the prize is and let them earn it.
Decide on Consequences Beforehand
Give thought before you begin to any consequences for not staying on task or completing all of their activities.
This can be simple consequences such as they don’t get to their fun activities of choice or don’t get to add a sticker to their chart. Or you can make it steeper depending on their age and how full their daily schedule was.
If your student doesn’t complete their school assignment before it was due, make them write a note or e-mail to their teaching apologizing.
Be consistent and clear regarding rewards, expectations, and consequences.
Be sure to turn off the TV, radio, and any other sources of noise during school time.
And parents, mute your phone. If you have to answer the phone (or watch that video on Facebook your friend tagged you in), quietly exit the room as to not be a distraction).
Be sure to check in regularly and listen about how your methods of time management for elementary students are working.
Are they feeling anxious? Do they feel they could accomplish more? Would another order/method work better for them?
Take what they say into consideration to find what works best for your child and your family.
While you can’t do everything they may want (like eat ice cream every 45 minutes), you should always attempt to find a compromise. Like making ice cream for dinner the goal if they complete all of their tasks for two weeks.
Or maybe if they want to play with blocks during the day, work it into a science/physics lesson.
If they are feeling anxious, be sure to sympathize. This is a new world for all of us. Talk about what you can do to help ease their fears.
Get Started With a Planner
See? Time management for elementary students doesn’t have to be hard.
With some planning and discipline you’re just one step away from teaching these valuable, life-long skills.
To get you started, I’ve created this super easy and totally free ‘Daily Planner’ printable.
I made it in a bunch of fun colors so you can pick the best option for your child. I even left some of them blank and the top so you can customize it with your child’s name.
To the left I have a blank clock face so you can draw in the hour and minute hands for each activity to reinforce telling time on an analog clock.
When organizing activities, I recommend starting with the ‘set’ times like live instruction and meals. Then fill in based on priority and with what you think your child will reasonably be able to accomplish.
And if you find that some activities are consistently the same, consider printing out another planner and writing on it before you laminate it. That way when you erase the “filler” activities you don’t lose the core essentials.
Don’t worry, you’ve got this! And along the way you may find yourself picking up a trick or two.
And don’t forget to download my ‘Daily Planner’ designed specifically for elementary students before you go.