As teachers, we realize how much there is to do and how little time there is to do it all! The key to a successful classroom is including a variety of time management activities.
Time Management Activities for Students & Teachers
Time Management is about finding the balance between urgent and essential tasks between what we have to do and what we want to do. It is the same for most things in life: time management is a delicate balance of priorities.
How do you teach such an abstract concept to kids? Try not to resort to micromanagement, threats, and lecturing, to “hurry up and get it done.” That is not the most effective way to teach kids this all-important skill. Instead, there is a better way to go about it. That is:
- modeling the skill
- providing natural tools
- setting up an environment that fosters it
Ultimately, we want students to take ownership of their time and use it wisely. See below for some simple ways to incorporate time management activities in your classroom for both your students AND yourself.
Time Management Activities for Students
- Visual Timers: Using timers on your interactive board is a great way to help kids visualize how much time has passed or how much time remains for a particular task. It allows them to pace their work appropriately. There are many free countdown timers on the internet that you can use in your classroom.
- Brain Breaks: We know that our efficiency diminishes when we concentrate on one thing for too long. Brain breaks are short activities (1-3 minutes) that get the kids up and moving between – or in the middle of – tasks. This also sets a good example to students that sometimes the best use of our time is a quick break so that we can return to a task with renewed efficiency. Here are some brain break cards to check out.
- Free Time as a Reward: Reward students who have finished a task quickly and accurately with free time to choose their activity. Free time is useful for teaching time management. Through this, a student can learn the balance between work and play.
- Individual Dry-Erase Schedules: Print and laminate a schedule for each child’s desk. It is an excellent tool to help them to see the concept of time and managing it appropriately. After each activity, the student is responsible for “checking it off” on their schedule. Schedules allow them to see the flow of the day and to anticipate the next activity.
- Non-Verbal Transitions: Play a particular song when you want students to move to a different center or transition to a different activity. You could also use a bell or chime for the same effect. This fosters independence with the students as they move smoothly from one task to the other without having to be told each step each time.
Time Management Activities for Teachers
- Prioritized To-Do List: It is good practice to begin each day by writing out a to-do list. Color-code it or order it to indicate what the highest priorities are for the day. Once you do those things, tackle the minor task.
- Review the Daily Schedule: Each day, let the students know what is on the schedule for that day. Inform them of any changes and what happens at different times during the day. Schedules are helpful both to the students and the teacher. It gives you a clear vision of the flow of the day too.
- Clean Up at the End of the Day: Taking a few minutes each afternoon to clean up the classroom at the end of the day, throw away unnecessary paper and straighten your desk can make the mornings much less chaotic. When you arrive the next morning, you will be able to focus on the new day and the tasks at hand.
- Have Clear Destinations for Work: We all know how distracting piles of papers can be and how much time is wasted sifting through them. Cut down on this time by clearly marking baskets for different assignments or needs. Train the students on where to turn in their papers, and the organization should come easily and save time in the long run.
- Make Deadlines for Yourself: Although some tasks don’t have specific deadlines, it is often helpful to set some boundaries for ourselves. We work better when there is a little pressure to get stuff done. Set times in the week or day that are “deadlines” for finishing specific tasks – and stick to them!
By implementing a few time management activities into the daily routine of our classroom, we can teach our students this valuable skill. We can also learn to manage our own time more effectively.
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