Never Too Early to Learn Time Management

The last thing a toddler should have to worry about is time management. But that is precisely the age you can start teaching children about concepts related to the passage of time.

These are the very first steps on the path to effectively scheduling their time. 

This is one of the most important skills they take to school, extracurricular activities and on to the grownup world of jobs, family life and finding time for all those workouts they’ll need to fit in every week. 

It’s never too late to start modeling and incorporating these very adult actions for your kids, but it’s never too early, either. The earlier and more consistently you do it, the more natural and commonsense it will be for them. 

If you incorporate it into their play, the more fun it will be later in life. 

Ages 1-2
Keep regular mealtimes and bedtimes whenever possible. Very young children thrive on order and repetition.

Ages 3-4
Create a schedule out of symbols representing different occasions in your preschooler’s day, like a bowl of cereal for breakfast, books or crayons for the start of the school day, a pillow for naptime, etc. Have your child check off the pictures after the tasks are done, and soon she or he will know the order in which things happen and how to predict the day.

Ages 5-7
Use a visual timer to help kids see how much time is left to complete a task, such as a homework assignment. Several smartphone apps offer timers like this aimed at young children, but something as simple as an hourglass, kitchen timer or an analog clock works for picturing elapsed time.

Ages 8-11
Have your kid set up a schedule for working on a longer-term assignment like a science fair project they’re given a month to work on. Ask them to break the project into smaller steps and estimate how long each one will take. If it ends up looking like they won’t have enough time to do everything, they’ll need to decide how to work more efficiently.

Miranda and Sterling Stephens   |   Photo: Blushing Cactus Photography