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
Date Book

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!

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