By contributing writer Tabitha
One of the criticisms of homeschooling that hits closest to home for me is that of homeschooled students being unable to meet a deadline. In other words, time management. Why does this hit close to home? My children are often unable to complete tasks on time, whether it be by a certain time of day or by a date on the calendar. I get frustrated with this even when it’s not important.
Just this month my oldest two boys have had trouble with not completing writing assignments by their deadlines. And this was a special privilege to study with a family member who was helping them improve their writing skills. Also, my daughter neglected to clean up her room in time for friends to come over. Younger children didn’t finish their lunch in time for us to go to the zoo for the afternoon.
So what do we do when this happens? I have some things that have helped, but this is definitely still a work in progress at our house.
- Teach them how to tell time. This is obviously an early step in the process, but if they can’t tell time later on, they aren’t going to be on time. This awareness of the passing of time is helpful for their own internal clock and how to pace themselves.
- Teach them the days of the week and months of the year. Again, this knowledge is an early step and helps them be aware of the seasons and years passing. Any small child loves to know when their favorite holiday is or to be able to find their birthday on a calendar.
- Give them their own calendar. As they grow, they will learn to keep track of their own events and things they need to remember. This will be helpful when they are the ones responsible for getting somewhere on time.
- Help them keep track of what they need to get done. It might be for each day or week, however your household does things with schoolwork, etc. If lists help, teach them how to make a list. If a schedule is what works, show them how to keep track of it. This is a process. Some things work better than others. There are a lot of resources out there that can be printed, purchased, or designed to help everyone manage time better. Make sure they aren’t wasting time.
- Remember to be spontaneous. We all need surprises and pleasant things to look forward to. There are times when that clock or calendar is NOT important.
- Reward being on time when appropriate. Have consequences for being late with assignments or making the family late. However, positive reinforcement seems to work better so keep that in mind.
- Especially when your children are older, make sure you let them suffer the consequences of their own choices. If they are late to work, don’t make excuses for them. If they miss something important because of their failing to do something, don’t make it up to them. Both of these have happened to one of my children this past year, and it made more of an impact than anything I ever tried to tell him.
- Most important of all, teach them respect for other people’s time. Whether it be someone you have an appointment with, your family members, friends, work, co-op, church classes, or a date, you don’t make them wait for you. It shows a lack of respect for their time and their preparation and shows that you don’t care.
My children do not have this skill yet. They are improving. However, I know as I try to keep instilling that respect for time passing and for other people, we will reach our goals. Yes, time can be well spent in doing nothing together and just enjoying the day, but we all have time that we can’t afford to waste on those other days. Be an example, and I keep telling myself, keep trying!