Children with reading and math challenges often have problems with time management. They do not have a firm concept of the passage of time or how one set of actions affects another; they may have trouble following age-appropriate directions or figuring out how much time they need to complete a task. In addition, working on reading or math homework is exhausting, because it takes longer and requires more energy. Children may become overwhelmed with homework and unable to complete projects "on time."
Here are a few ways to help:
- Divide tasks into small pieces, so they are not so overwhelming.
- Because homework can be daunting, set a goal of finishing part of the task (one paragraph, a few questions) or working for a set time (10 or 20 minutes), and then take a break to allow the child to recover.
- Set a timer for well before the next new task has to begin. The timer tells the child that now he or she has to start winding down the old task and prepare for the next task.
- Give specific instructions. Instead of a generic order like "get ready for bed," try saying, "put on your pajamas;" when that task is done, go on to the next task ("brush your teeth") and so on.
- Keep to a regular schedule as much as possible. If your normal day is chaotic, your child will have a harder time with time management.
- Provide more time. Rushing is very stressful for anyone with time management problems.
- Take advantage of your child's computer or cell phone to set up a calendar and automatic notification of what will be happening each day ("when you hear the ding, we have to get ready to leave").
- Talk to teachers about your child's challenges and see if you can arrange for more time for tests, fewer questions to answer on homework, printed rather handwritten assignments or an oral exam.
- Don't over-schedule. As important as it is for children to have a variety of activities, children with dyslexia and dyscalculia need time to recoup energies. Downtime is important.
- Train yourself to be patient. When I'm waiting for someone with time management issues, I pick up a book!
Do you have some favorite techniques that you have used to improve and deal with your child's time management issues? Please let us know so that we can share those techniques with other parents.
As always, Windy Row can be reached by info [at] windyrow.org (email) or phone.