The school year is careening toward Fall Break at what seems like break-neck speed. Parents, students and even teachers may find themselves struggling to keep pace with a cluttered calendar of schoolwork, family obligations and extracurricular activities. 

While this time of year can seem overwhelming, it also presents opportunity for kids to learn one of life’s most important skills.

I’m talking about time management.

Let’s start with this truth: every person on this Earth has exactly the same number of hours in a day to work toward their goals. There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year. That’s true whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a nonprofit executive, a classroom teacher, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Successful people do not have more time; they simply use their time wisely.

Time management is a life skill that can serve students well into adulthood. Parents who recognize the learning opportunity derived from a busy student’s schedule — and who use that opportunity to teach time management — are giving their students a leg up for life.

Time management helps students deploy discipline in a way that can net immediate results.

When it comes to managing school work, proper time management can insure efficient, effective study time, while making room for sports, music lessons, and family activities.  

Study time can be made most efficient by following these three basic principles: 

1.  Know when to study — set aside time each day for study. Ideally, parents can help students identify an existing window of time so that studying can occur at the same time each day. Make it a habit, and it will automatically become more … well … automatic.

2. Know where to study — Having a space free of distractions will improve the quality of a student’s study time. A designated, clutter free space allows for better focus. Pick a spot, clear the space, and use it. 

3.  Know what to study — Help your student plan and prioritize subjects according to their school schedule. Have a math test on Thursday? Set aside extra time for math studying Monday through Wednesday, and divide topics for each day based on likely test material. Your student will walk into that test with confidence, and they’ll score better as a result of well-planned preparation.

Finally, help your child prepare for adulthood by giving them the study tools they need, and then letting your child set the schedule. The life lessons available from managing their time won’t be learned if you as the parent do all the scheduling. This is true for any lessons you want to depart on your child. In the same way a kid can’t truly learn to drive a car by watching someone else drive, a child can’t learn time management by watching you set the schedule. Teach the rules, and then hand over the wheel. You can do this. So can your child.


Jan Barrick is a former public school teacher and the founder of Alpha Plus Educational Systems, an Oklahoma-based company that supports K-12 schools through standards based curriculum.

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