Simple Time Management for Kids

What do we want? Where are we going?

This is a difficult question to ask very young children. The younger they are the less likely they are to have a clear sense of where they are going. So one of the jobs of a parent is help them set some beneficial goals. 

For example,

– Getting better grades

– Finishing family chores

– Improving health or a skill

Self-management needs to start with something that your children can visualize as a worthy goal. Talk to them about their interests and help them focus on an outcome that they would see as desirable. As much as possible, involve your children in selecting and in picturing themselves in that favorable outcome. 

The first step, therefore, is to set a target, to make an outcome important. Don’t overburden your children with all the things they should be doing. Use one self-selected outcome as the model around which you can develop a pattern for future objectives. Gradually, together, you will build the kind of self-management that we sometimes call time-management.

Time doesn’t play any favorites. 

Every one of us has the same twenty-four hour day to work with. The difference, then, is how we manage ourselves during the twenty-four hour day. Those of us who manage well, seem to accomplish more and seem better satisfied with our lives. Those of us who are pulled here and there with no evident organization, seem to accomplish less and seem less satisfied with our lives.

Kids are no different. They, too, have the same hours available equal to those available to their peers. Just like adults, some kids seem to get a lot done; some seem to accomplish very little. Yet both groups are active during the same number of hours. Since the clock ticks off the same 1,440 daily minutes for everyone, we have to ask ourselves how we can organize our lives to accomplish what we want. That’s the way to gain a sense of satisfaction with our use of our hours.

How do we get there?

Everything we want requires time and attention in order to achieve it. We can’t get better grades, for instance, simply by wishing for an excellent report card. We must pay attention in class, finish practice activities, clarify our understanding, and prepare ourselves daily for the next day’s work. In other words, we have to discipline ourselves regularly to accomplish the tasks that lead to our goal of getting better grades.

Usually it helps children to understand this process by asking them to write their goal and to list the activities that they see leading to its achievement. Here is a sample form that you might use to help your children in this process. As much as possible, involve them in creating their own view of “what” they are after.



When will I do these activities?

Please note that the question directs your children to make decisions about the time it takes to carry out the activities related to their goal. You can guide them, of course, but you want them to feel that they are learning to manage themselves, and that requires using time to reach their destination.

Thus it is not your schedule that they must follow. The two of you are working to find ways to reach this desirable outcome. They are learning that they can organize themselves to get the job done. That’s significant growth.
Each time your children make a reasonable decision, praise them for their growth: Say, “That makes good sense.” “You are learning more about yourself everyday.”

Regular hours for regular tasks

Just as your children get up at the same time each morning to go to school and go to bed at the same time each night, they will benefit from having a consistent time for working on regular chores. Set a daily time when they can play and a daily time when they do their school work, and a regular time for other chores.