How can you help your teen become a wise time manager?
Many books have been written on the subject of time management. (I’m writing one myself as I pen this post.) Here, we will briefly examine five tips to guide you as you begin the time management training process.
1. SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND
The challenges confronting our children are unlike those faced by recent generations. As our children grow older, more independent, and gradually move out from our protection, they are bombarded with a host of temptations and distractions.
Stephen Covey’s classic book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, urges us to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Homeschool graduate Christos Dimoulis’s insight can help us understand our teenagers’ perspective:
“When it came to time-management, my biggest challenge was distraction. Social media is one example. My Facebook account wasted countless hours of my time. I developed a habit of leaving my work to check my feed every five minutes.
“In what could legitimately be called an addiction, I found it increasingly difficult to focus on my assignments. I shudder to think of the opportunities I would have missed had I traveled through the black-holes of Instagram and Snapchat….”
Christos speaks for many teens today. Although it can be helpful to limit their access to electronic devices, it is critical that we help them learn how to handle those devices responsibly. (That topic alone could fill another book.)
2. REMEMBER EACH CHILD IS UNIQUE
Don’t be surprised if you discover that the time management strategy that works for one child proves totally ineffective with another. Each child is unique.
Just as there are a variety of learning styles, there are also a variety of time management styles. Which leads us to the next tip…
3. FOCUS ON RESULTS RATHER THAN METHODS
When my firstborn son was still in homeschool, I invested hours coaching him on time blocking on digital calendars, the Kanban approach, paper planners, and more. As I wrote this post, I asked him what advice he would offer to parents seeking to help their children become effective time managers.
His response carried a bit of a bite, but I think he’s right. He said we shouldn’t worry about what method our children use; instead, we should focus on results.
Introduce your children to a variety of methods, (memories of our time management training sessions flash through my mind), but give them the freedom and flexibility to adopt whatever system works best for them.
4. GIVE YOUR CHILDREN DEADLINES
As home educators, we have the ability to be flexible. We can establish what we believe to be the best learning environment.
If your children are involved in outside classes or activities, they probably encounter assignments with fixed due dates. That naturally gives them the opportunity to practice the art of time management.
Children need a balance of both freedom and structure. Even if they have deadlines outside of your homeschool, be sure to give them deadlines for the work they do at home, too.
5. BE GRACIOUS WHEN THEY FAIL
Be firm, but also be gracious. Although the failure to meet a deadline may bring consequences (such as a lower grade or privileges temporarily revoked), be gentle. Like any new skill, time management takes practice to develop.
In time, (and with much prayer), that fledging will take flight and you will see your mature time manager soar!
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Stacy Farrell is the author of more than ten books on a variety of topics, including: time management, motherhood, manhood, philosophy, and writing. She speaks at homeschool conferences, writes for leading Christian homeschool magazines, and is the founder of Home School Adventure Co. Although she loves to write, speak, and teach, Stacy considers her role as wife to Roger and mother to two precious sons to be her greatest work and privilege. Learn more about her resources at HomeSchoolAdventure.com.