Beyond Games: Can You Teach a Child to Keep Track of Time?

Teach a Child to Keep Track of Time

There is something special about getting lost in an activity and losing track of time. Being absorbed in what you are doing can reflect a sense of mindfulness and being present-oriented. Some kids may get lost in their play or simply daydream. When  children have very busy schedules, losing track of time can result in being unable to complete necessary tasks. Many children require assistance in learning how to be aware of the passage of time. In this edition of the LearningWorks for Kids Beyond Games series, we suggest strategies that can help children keep track of time.

Use a daily “to do” list that highlights special activities. Post a dry-erase board in a prominent area in the home that states “To Do” on the top, followed by the date. Create one column for the child and one for the parents. Work with the child to develop a morning or evening-before routine of listing two to three priorities for the coming day and have him prioritize these postings, increasing the listings as he gets better at doing this. Generating a longer list of items and erasing them to prioritize what might be reasonable to do on a given day could show a willingness to move tasks around to help set realistic priorities.

Use technologies that help with time management. In addition to alarm clocks, digital watches, PDAs, and cell phones, there are other products designed specifically to enhance time awareness and time management. Encourage children to use these devices to give routine 10- or 15-minute reminders while they are working on a task or chore. The “talking timer” from Tel-Time and tools from can also assist with time management.

Make a game or competition out of time management. Challenge children to complete a task by the time it takes you to finish another task. This could help them to become more efficient in their use of time. They could also compete with themselves, timing how long it takes them to do their math homework one day and comparing it to their time on subsequent days.

Make the consequences of poor time management meaningful to children. For example, students who are consistently late for school because of poor management skills may need to experience the consequences of staying after because they were late. Discuss strategies for better time management with children who are clearly not making an effort to improve their skills in this regard and have them experience the consequences rather than protect them from them. It is important, however, that this tactic not be used with children who processes information slowly due to processing deficits.  

Complementing these core strategies with the use of apps, websites, and other technologies often leads to the best solutions to improving a child’s ability to keep track of time. Look at Learningworks for Kids TIme Management section to help.

Timer+Timer+ is a simple yet effective app for creating timed tasks and staying focused while completing household duties or class assignments. Kids can create, label and reuse timers for anything – from completing homework, to doing chores or practicing a musical instrument — and its simple design makes it very easy to use. It also features a voiceover feature for those who are visually impaired, can run in the background (allowing kids to use other apps while the time runs). Parents may need to help help younger kids create and label tasks within the app, but its straightforward, easy-to-use design makes it suitable for use with kids ages 8 and up.

WunderlistWunderlist is a free website and mobile app for managing tasks and creating lists. Users create tasks, then set a due date and reminder to keep them on track and avoid procrastination. Though there are many “to-do” apps available, Wunderlist sets itself apart with a stylized aesthetic presentation and the ability to integrate with various social platforms. Users can personalize their backgrounds and sync their tasks with friends via e-mail, Facebook, and text messages. Wunderlist’s neat and uncluttered interface makes it very easy to use for any age group, but its functionality is most applicable for ages 8 and up.

ChoiceworksChoiceworks is an excellent app for establishing visual schedules for transitioning students and children through multi-step tasks and routines, like getting ready in the morning, or calming down when they’re upset. Choiceworks contains a collection of images to choose from and users can also input their own. Users can create an unlimited number of schedules, and they can also practice waiting by using the wait screen, with a timer that shows the amount of time left, and options for what can be done while they wait. This app is especially helpful for users with autism spectrum disorders, but it can also be useful for any children who need help adapting to a schedule, managing time or improving patience. The app is very easy to use, making it recommended for use with ages 3 and up.

Here are other articles and websites that can help children with poor time-management skills:

11 Easy Tips to Teach Your Kids Time Management Skills By Apryl Duncan: Teaching kids time management skills is not an easy feat. With such hectic lives, parents often are unable to set a good example for their children. This article outlines some tips and tricks to start getting your kiddos to manage their time more effectively. 

Simple Strategies to Teach Kids Time Management By Marianne: Trying to teach time management skills to teens and older adolescents can be time consuming and exhausting in itself. But thinking about trying to teach these same skills to younger kids seems quite impossible. Marianne has strategies for specifically teaching this younger crowd. 

The instant guide to time management for kids By Leslie Crawford: Stating that practice exercises are most beneficial to our little ones, this article is your instant guide to time management for kids. 

6 Easy Ways To Teach Kids Time Management Skills By Amrita Minocha: A fun way to teach time management skills can be through specialized activities. This article lets us in on some effective yet fun activities to strengthen your child’s time management skills while having a bit of fun!

Time Management Skills for Kids By Susan Merrill: With a very different take on time management, this article helps you get to the source of time management issues and help them to realize theses issues on their own. They include strategies on how to do this along with tips for moving forward helping your child. 

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