Friday, January 15, 2010

Teaching Time Management

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."
Frederick Douglass

Something that we bought Hunter for the new year is his very own calendar. He has been working with a calendar for almost two years now, first with a simple days of the week calendar, then with a monthly calendar, and also in many activities in telling time. I would say that, at this point, he has a pretty good concept of time, and can (pretty consistently) name the days of the week, the months of the year, units of time (i.e. 60 seconds = minute, 52 weeks = year, etc.), hours of the day (bedtime is at 8:00, etc.), can tell time on a digital and (for the most part) standard clock, and understands concepts like "last night", "afternoon", and "two days from now", etc. with a fair degree of accuracy. This is not something that I shoved down his throat but he simply developed an understanding by doing calendar time (most) mornings and talking about things throughout the day.

But now I think that he's ready (and probably has been for a while) to learn about time management. The monthly calendar we have been using was great for teaching months of the year and days of the month, but was quite limited. He now has a famous landmarks calendar (courtesy of the dollar store) that will be his very own and he can learn to plan his days and see what's coming up next week or next summer.

At first he wasn't too enthused (as the first thing I had him do was write a bunch of stuff on it) but it has now become his very own little treasure and he seriously cherishes it.

It has worked wonders. For one, he wakes up and says, "Mom, today is a school day!" He also counts down the days to the weekend, or when the weekend is over. "Brandon goes to work on the 19th, mom." He has gotten a little messed up on the ordinal numbers sometimes and has told me, "The 21 is a school day you know." "21st, you mean?" I answer.

This has also resulted in him being a lot more aware of when plans don't quite go as expected. He was quite disappointed when his aunt's visit got rescheduled, and kept saying, "But mom, she was supposed to come on Monday!"

I have been having him cross off the day each night before he goes to bed, and even without me reminding him, he rarely forgets. My goal in this, and other things that I am implementing, is not just to teach about time but about how to manage time, because I would say that time management is arguably one of the most important skills one can have. The implications of this are enormous. I want him to master this as young as possible instead of waiting until bad habits are already developed to try and fix it.

Just some of the lessons learned in utilizing your own calendar are, beyond the obvious math and time skills: planning ahead, memory, and mostly, goal setting.

The calendar is just a small part of teaching this, and I have a lot more things that I am beginning to work with him on, including having his own alarm clock, morning and evening routines, unsupervised school work times, and doing his chores without being told.

But more on that later.

"And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." 
Hebrew 1:12

Hunter is 4 years, 9 months old

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