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How to Teach Time Management


Time management is crucial, especially for students juggling academic responsibilities alongside various extracurricular activities. Learning to manage their time effectively becomes imperative as coursework becomes more demanding and students engage in more diverse pursuits. As educators, you are fundamental in helping your students develop this skill. Let’s explore the importance of time management and how you can help teach this in your classroom.

Why is time management important for students?

The research is clear: students who effectively manage their time typically perform better in school and extracurricular activities and usually have more free time. Time management can not only help with planning activities but also help students focus and organize their thoughts. However, this must be learned and practiced, which can be challenging for students with executive function challenges like ADHD.

Time management is crucial for several reasons, including:

Efficiently managing coursework across multiple classes

Balancing academic and non-academic commitments

Preparing students for higher education and the professional world

Reducing stress and anxiety associated with disorganization and chaos

Developing self-discipline and self-regulation

Despite its importance, many students struggle with time management. While it might not be obvious, there are many signs to look for to identify those who might need some extra assistance in developing this skill. Frequently late or incomplete assignments, late arrival to school, and spending substantially more or less time with activities than others can all be indicators of poor time management skills. Even behaviors like forgetting tasks and commitments and “time blindness,” the inability to correctly estimate how long an assignment will take, can be signs that they are struggling.

How can you, as an educator, help your students improve their time management skills?

As an educator, you have the unique opportunity to guide your students in mastering the art of time management. In the classroom, you control the workflow and can implement strategies to help your students improve their time management. These can include the following techniques:

1. Break up big projects. Break down large assignments into manageable tasks or milestones. This approach prevents procrastination and helps them allocate time more effectively. Set multiple deadlines so students learn to pace themselves and reduce the last-minute rush.

2. Distribute assignments early. Provide students with assignments well in advance. This time allows them to plan and allocate time for each task. Early distribution fosters better preparation and lessens the chances of students feeling overwhelmed.

3. Establish a consistent schedule for class activities and homework deadlines. When students know what to expect and when to expect it, they can organize their time more efficiently. For example, regular due dates for specific assignments (e.g., Wednesday discussion posts, Friday essays) help students build a routine.

4. Give students regular reminders. Keep students informed about upcoming assignments, deadlines, and important events. Send out reminders through various channels such as announcements in class, emails, or a shared online platform.

5. Reflect and adjust. Periodically discuss time management as a class. Allow students to share their experiences and what strategies have worked for them. This reflective approach helps refine your methods and creates a learning environment where students can learn from each other’s successes and challenges.

By implementing these strategies, you equip your students with the foundation to build their time management skills. However, recognize that your students will have varying needs regarding time management and specific students that could use more individual support. When that happens, don’t forget to get guardians involved. Improving a student’s ability to manage their time is best served with participation (and collaboration) from both the student’s educator and parents!

Let’s look at a specific example of what this collaboration could look like.

Jack is a middle-school student who scores well on standardized tests, though he has low grades and difficulty keeping up with his schoolwork—especially in math. He consistently arrives 15 (or more) minutes late to school, frequently turns in assignments past their due dates, and often has missing or incomplete assignments. Outside of school, Jack is a competitive year-round athlete, takes piano and drum lessons, and volunteers with his family at a soup kitchen once a week. Some of his favorite hobbies include video games, trampolining, and playing basketball, and his parents report that these activities sometimes distract him from his schoolwork.

In Jack’s case, his good scores on standardized tests show that he’s high-performing academically, though his lower grades and difficulty keeping up with his work indicate that he may struggle with time management.

To help set Jack up for success at school, Jack’s math teacher changed the homework schedule so all assignments were due on Thursdays. The teacher also reminds students about the upcoming homework two or three days beforehand, approximates how long the work should take, and gives students 20 minutes of the class period to work on their homework. At the same time, it’s fresh in their minds.

At home, Jack and his parents make homework a clear priority by setting aside 60 minutes each night after practice to complete assignments before he gets to jump on the trampoline, play video games, or shoot some hoops. This schedule allows him to get his work done before he’s had a chance to get distracted by something more appealing to him. Additionally, Jack’s parents ask his educators at school to provide him access to assignments a few days earlier, allowing Jack to set personal deadlines at least two days before an assignment’s due date. Even if Jack doesn’t meet his deadline, this system helps him complete and turn in most of his homework by the official deadline.

You can build these time management skills early by incorporating these proven techniques and collaborating with guardians. Not only will this help your students succeed in your class, but you will also empower them to navigate the demands of their academic journey confidently.

For More:

Time Management for Students: a Psychological Explanation of Why We Struggle

Correlations between academic performance and stress

Teach Kids to Manage Time

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