It's a brand new school year, and I am having loads of fun watching and hearing all of the first-day school stories and seeing the pictures of students heading back to school. And while the first few days of school are always fun and exciting for both student and parents it's important to get a jump start on what's important.
I have to warn you, that just like that you will look up and half the year is gone. It's around this time that my coaching and tutoring line starts blowing up. The first semester is typically okay. The second one is where the struggles begin. Time management can make all the difference in a successful or unsuccessful year for a student. Here are a few time management tips that are paramount to passing classes and being promoted to the next grade or next level.
Make a to-do list-I encourage my middle schoolers and up to purchase and use a scheduler. It's important to know where you are supposed to be and when. It's also important to make a schedule and see what tasks are to be completed on a daily basis. Checking these tasks off as you go helps you see how productive your day is.
To do list evaluation-Students that are old enough and responsible enough to review their task list can do it on their own at the end of the day. However, it is important to be very honest and make sure that all tasks are getting done and not just checked off. For younger children, parents should be a part of evaluating their daily to-do list; this helps to teach them responsibility and accountability. It's also an excellent time to chat and catch up with your little one while reviewing the to-do list. I encourage parents to make sure they get started with a to- do list with their middle schoolers and above but some parents have helped their children use daily planners in elementary school with much success.
Use your time wisely-most people would be amazed at the time that is wasted throughout the day. One way to understand how much is being lost is to keep a log of your time. There are many distractions to choose from including social media, text, video games and more. The unfortunate part is that we have these distractions at our fingertips now. Gone are the days when you had to wait to get home and watch TV or call your best boyfriend or girlfriend. Our phones and tablets are attached to us and are everywhere present. It makes it very easy to check your phone 100 times a day. The problem is that each time the phone is pulled out the clock is ticking and time is being wasted. The first time I did this exercise I was amazed at how many times I looked at my phone during working hours.
If you are not already, parents should consider limiting cell phone and TV watching time. While there are many valid arguments for taking a phone to school these days, there are also valid questions as to how much distraction is a phone. Gone are the days when half of lunch was spent reading, or catching upon the next day's homework. Make sure your student is using their time wisely. Talk to them about censoring themselves to spend less time on their cell phone and more time on school work.
Communicate your schedule to others---make sure your friends and family know your study hours. Phone calls and text can be very distracting when doing school work and are huge time wasters. Simply communicating to your friends that you are not available for a period of time would help tremendously. Being able to do homework for an entire two hours versus 30 minutes can greatly enhance and improve grades.
Time yourself--- My final time management tip that is great for all ages is the kitchen timer. There is an actual story behind the Pomodoro (from which this method originated) that I won't' go into at this time, but I typically encourage my students to get a simple kitchen timer to use as a time management tool. It is used just the same way your mother or grandmother uses it in the kitchen. You set a time preferably, 25 minutes, to complete focus on your school work and when the time goes off, you stop. You would be amazed at what can get done in 25 minutes of focused time.
No doubt about it these time management tips are beneficial for all ages. However, it is especially gratifying to see young students learn these habits at an early age. I have personally seen some great success with students of all ages when they use these time management skills.
Learning these good time management habits are life skills that are beneficial in college, career and beyond. Some argue to let kids be kids, but I am a firm believer that as parents are given a responsibility to train up our children in the way, they should go. We are given a one-time opportunity to teach them life skills. When we start certain methods is an individual choice. However, research has proven that those things learned in our formative years are likely to stay with is for a lifetime.