High school is our last stretch of time we have to teach our children what they need to know before they are on their own in this big world of ours. One of my big concerns for the upcoming generation is how often they will chose what they need to do over what they want to do. I’m sure our parents worried the same thing!
When I was supervising, I saw time and time again that people would slack off, just for the sake of taking yet another break. Whether it was taking a smoke break, checking Facebook (or rather MySpace at that time), playing a game on the computer, or anything else that was away from the assigned tasks at hand. I get that everyone needs a breather, but there was a very real difference in the 20-something employees, and generation older than them. I aspire to help my kids have a work ethic, and time management skills like I observed in the older generation.
This type of work ethic is engrained in some people with their personality. In others, it’s a learned behavior. I believe we need to treat all children as if they need to learn time management rather than assuming they will pick it up somewhere along the way.
1. Use a schedule
Each family will have their comfort level in how rigid their schedule is, whether that’s down to 15 minute chunks, a routine or flow for the day, or a checklist that can be done in any order. Whatever it is, creating a schedule helps one build skills in understanding how to work with their time. If you’re so inclined, build breaks into your schedule to create an environment that matches more closely with the workplace. On the other hand, you might not feel that’s necessary. Do what works for you!
2. Create clear guidelines and deadlines
I do believe it’s necessary to outline expectations early on, and create deadlines. Again, your deadlines might be a to do list of work to be completed by the end of the week, letting your student chooses to schedule for themselves. Or, you may expect a specific list of subjects and assignments are done each day. We love Homeschool Planet to keep track of our deadlines and we use it religiously.
Create clear expectations from the beginning with a learning meeting. As I was organizing Kira’s work for the year and wrapping my mind around how each class worked, I took just a couple notes of items I wanted to discuss with her. We sat down one day to go through my notes, and I talked about what I expected from her for the upcoming year in terms of independent work, quality of work, amount of effort, where I am flexible with expectations and where I’m not. All the notes I took on each of these things are in a document on our shared Google Drive folder for her to review if she ever feels the need. This also reduces how often I need to repeat myself if I can refer to her Learning Meeting document.
3. Learn to take productive breaks
We all need breaks throughout our work day, but the question is how we use that time, and how long it lasts. I’m sure many can relate that a 5 minute Facebook break easily stretches out to 30 minutes, and we lose valuable time in our day! Especially the high school years when our kids are doing school for longer hours, they need to take some brain breaks, and they aren’t likely to jump on a trampoline or play ball in the backyard (because how cool would that be? LOL). Kira loves her Jumpcourse class, so when she’s feeling frustrated with one subject, she can take a 10 minute break by working on Jumpcourse. She’s still getting stuff done, but she breaks the monotony and does something she enjoys. The same goes for the workplace. When I was tired of sitting at my desk, I would volunteer to do the hourly checks in the data center, or find another task I could do away from my desk. Not all breaks have to mean walking away completely from productivity.
4. Ensure there are consequences
Kira doesn’t get grounded when she is missing work, but rather priorities and schedules shift. If school work is not complete, she has to use her fencing time to complete what needs to be done. If she’s falling more seriously behind, we would need to refuse letting her go to a friend’s house on the weekend. “Do what you need to do before you do what you want to do.”
5. Follow up with love
I’ve found this time in Kira’s life I feel more like a boss during her schooling than I did in years past. I don’t see her day to day work, but I review it periodically. I’m no longer an active part in her learning, so it’s easy to get into supervisor mode of just checking her work and giving her a review. I have to remember that I am her mom and have to follow up like one, while keeping her responsible. She needs responses sugar coated every so slightly if there’s constructive criticism, and a bit of grace when she’s really struggling with managing her time. We are working together to get her ready for college and future employment.
We can’t hold our child’s hand forever. There will come a point where we are only given glimpses of time to hold them and tell them we love them. The other areas of their life won’t include us, and that can be a really sad thought, but we can take joy in knowing we have done the best we know how in preparing them to be successful adults, in sha Allah. [Tweet “Time management is vital to ensure that one area of life doesn’t overtake another area of life.”] Later in life, work should not overshadow our religious duties, and our school should not overshadow our marriage responsibilities. Learning these skills will in sha Allah foster a healthy balance for our kids in their future.
How do you foster responsibility and time management in your student?
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K. Thornton says
Great article! Thanks for publishing. Very timely as I’m training my teens.
Shannen Espelien says
I’m so glad you found it helpful!
Thank you for this article. It was very helpful. I will try and implement your ideas into our routine.