Monday, April 11, 2016

Learning About Time Management

Every one of us has the same 24 hours available to us for use each day to do all the things we have to, need to, and want to accomplish. The ability to wisely manage our time is a very important skill for anyone who wants to be successful to develop.

Some people seem to have no problem managing their time. They are always punctual, they are very self-disciplined, and they are often able to accomplish more in one day than others could accomplish in a month!

Others seem to struggle with the very concept of time. They do not seem to notice the passing of time, they are easily distracted so they often waste their time, and they always seem to come up a day late and a dollar short!

The ability to manage one's time is part of one's executive functioning. Some people, especially those who have ADD/ADHD or certain types of learning differences, struggle with executive functions such as managing time.

Big Brother is one of those people who struggles with the whole concept of the passing of time and with time management!

So this week, we are going to be working on ways to help him understand how to wisely manage time.

We started today talking about all the things we have that help us either tell the time or plan how we will use our time. Some of the things we listed were:

Kitchen Clock
Alarm Clock
Phone
Timer
Watch
Stopwatch
Calendar
Date Book
Planner

We talked a little bit about the ways we use each of these things and how they can help us make wise use of our time.

Then we used a toy clock with movable hands to talk about what time different things happen. We set the clock to show various times for when he does things such as when he gets up in the morning, what time we eat lunch, what time Daddy gets home from work, what time he goes to his horseback riding lessons, what time his 4-H club meetings start, what time church starts on Sunday, etc. I was not really surprised to discover that he had no idea what time many of these regular events take place. Time is just a tough concept for him.

To help him work on understanding the passage of time, we conducted a little experiment at lunch.

He had poured himself some extra milk to drink after he finished eating his food. Now normally, he would dawdle over finishing up this extra milk while talking or daydreaming or something. So I began our experiment by showing him the stopwatch function on my phone. I told him that I wanted to time him and see how long it actually would take him to simply finish drinking his milk. With this, I started the stopwatch and he immediately got busy with finishing up his milk! What has before been an occasion for him to waste upwards of 15 minutes took less than 1 minute today because he stayed focussed on what he was doing.

We continued our little experiment to see how quickly he could do a number of easy little household chores that he often puts off or neglects such as throwing away his napkin, washing his own cup and fork, pushing up his chair, putting a dirty shirt in his hamper, putting away some folded laundry, or picking up a game off his bedroom floor. He was shocked when he realized that each of these "dreaded" tasks actually only took him 1 minute or less to complete!

This little experiment led us to a little activity I had prepared for him. He played a little game called "Procrastination!"



I explained that procrastinating is putting things off until later instead of keeping up with our responsibilities right away. We talked about how procrastinating is a way that we can choose to make poor use of our time which then causes us to be stressed, rushed, and often in trouble!

For the game, I wrote "Procrastination" in red marker on one sheet of white paper and "Keeping Up" in green marker on another sheet. Then on sticky Post-It notes I wrote several different short scenarios like "You pick up your toys before getting new ones out," or "You promise you will do your chores after you finish watching a movie." I made the scenarios relevant to his daily chores and activities so that he could really think about and apply what he is learning.

Big Brother had to read each simple scenario one at a time and then decide where to put that Post-It note. If it seemed to tell about someone using their time wisely, he would stick it to the "Keeping Up" sheet. If it seemed like someone was putting off a necessary task or was wasting time, he put it under "Procrastination."

He enjoyed this simple activity and actually asked to play the game again. This really sparked some good discussion about making smart choices when it comes to how he uses his time.

I have some other activities planned for this week also including:

- Making a list of all the things he does in a day and then labelling each activity as "Have to," "Need to," or "Want to."

- Estimating how long he thinks some of his school assignments or chores will take him to complete then timing him to see how long each actually takes.

- Writing important dates for things like appointments, club meetings, family activities, etc. on his own calendar and making a habit of checking his calendar regularly.

- Using a concordance to find and memorize some Scriptures relating to the topic of time.

Do your children struggle with time management? What are some ways you have helped them? I would love to hear your ideas!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Homeschooling When Mom Has an Injury

If you have noticed that I have not been regularly posting on this blog in the past while, it is due to the fact that I have suffered a serious ankle injury and have pretty much been in survival mode.



I walked on my injured ankle for a week before the pain and swelling finally got so bad that I had to get it checked. I was first told I had a fractured tibia, but now they believe I have a serious case of tendonitis. Either way it is extremely painful, and I can expect recovery to take a while.

So I have to wear a walking boot on my right foot and see a physical therapist three times a week.

I am supposed to be really taking it easy...at least as much as a homeschool mom with a toddler in tow can take it easy...which isn't exactly easy!

So what exactly does homeschooling look like for us right now?

Help!

I am the last person on earth to ask for help, but at this point I have little choice. My mom (a veteran homeschool mom and former Christian school principal who I am am so thankful to have close by) has been so helpful driving me to appointments (my right ankle is the one that is injured, so I am unable to drive myself), watching the boys for me in the waiting room, helping Big Brother work on his assignments while I am seeing the doctor or therapist, and doing dishes or straightening up for me when she comes over. Others have been so good to bring over meals which has also been a huge blessing. My husband has made sure I get plenty of rest while he has taken up a lot of my slack with housework and grocery shopping. He is here as much as possible with a strong arm for me to hold to when I need to move about. Having Big Brother take up responsibility for doing the laundry and just being my general helper during the day is also a real blessing right now! Allowing others to help me has not been the easiest thing for me to do, but I am thankful and definitely feel loved!!

Prioritize

This is where having our homeschool goals and priorities already straight really comes in handy! I know what subjects/activities we need to be really focussing on right now. We aren't doing anything super creative or extra exciting right now, but even if it is simply Big Brother learning to make his own lunch while my leg is on ice, useful learning is definitely still happening!

Reading Aloud

Thankfully an injured ankle does not prevent me from being able to sit on the couch and read aloud with the boys! Since my injury we have had fun reading The Whipping Boy, a hilarious classic about a selfish prince who learns important lessons about friendship. We have also enjoy reading about Laura Ingalls Wilder and listening to her books Farmer Boy and By the Shores of Silver Lake on CD. This week we read together about the interesting life of the famous baseball star turned Christian evangelist, Billy Sunday. At bedtime a couple nights this week, Big Brother wanted me to read him some stories he found that told all about World War I and World War II. That wasn't necessarily on a lesson plan anywhere, but he was curious about those time periods and learned quite a bit. I have also still been able to read daily Scripture from the book of Luke aloud to the boys. Reading aloud to children is a great learning and bonding activity any time, but it is especially nice to be able to continue doing it in light of my injury!

Independent Work

It has also been helpful that Big Brother was already used to doing certain assignments independently! This is especially nice now that he has to spend hours each week in a doctor's office waiting rooms. I pack all his independent assignments for the day along with any supplies he needs to complete them (pencil, ruler, etc.) in his tote bag usually the night before my morning appointment. That bag goes with him to the doctor's office, and he gets right to work as soon as we get there. Normally he has those assignments completed by the time I am finished with my appointment. I check his work when we get home, and later in the day we do any reading aloud or other work that we need to do together.

Little Brother

At very soon to be 2 years old, Little Brother is not quite understanding why Mommy can't carry him around or chase him or why I have to rest so much. But as much as possible I try to make time for gently snuggling with him and either reading, singing songs, or (his favorite) reciting Scriptures. His speech abilities and vocabulary seem to have just exploded this past few weeks, and it is such a joy for me to take this time to slow down and really watch that part of him develop right now!

Big Brother has several extra activities coming up soon like some volunteer work, a painting class, standardized testing (not required in our state, but something we do just for practice), and some 4-H club meetings that, while someone else will have to drive, I hope to be as involved in as possible.

Taking it easy is harder than you think! But as my husband keeps lovingly reminding me, it will be better for us in the long run if I rest, keep my appointments, and focus on helping my injury heal. I would really appreciate everyone's prayers for me and my family right now!

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