CHRONIC lateness has an impact on relationships and success in life, especially academically. I had the opportunity to visit a public secondary school in Awka North. I came in during their morning assembly and I noticed that less than half of the population of the students was present. It was around 9am that majority of the students started trooping in.
Later in the day, I visited J.S.S 1 class while the English teacher was concluding her teaching for the day when I came in. In my interaction with the children, I started by asking them questions on some of the things the teacher just taught them. In the process, I pointed at one student and asked her some questions and she seemed lost, giving me this look of ‘I do not understand what you are saying’ and the teacher was quick to say, ‘leave that one, she doesn’t know anything’.
Before I left, I came back to the girl and in the process of my chat with her; I found out that she is always late to school, plus the fact that she is not a very fast learner, she needed some time to settle in and get herself in the mood of learning and that time had not always been there and no one cares to make sure that she is carried along. That single act of lateness always finds a way to ruin the rest of her day in school. Her reasons for her chronic lateness should be a story for another day, but I know that this is the case with majority of school children that are always late to school. But if these children learn how to manage their time, do they really have a reason not to be punctual to school?
Reacting on the issue, Mrs Ezedike Roseline, a psychologist and a teacher said: “Being on time is associated with executive function skills, or the behind the scenes skills needed for learning, such as focus, perspective-taking, and organisation. These skills are critical for academic success, as well as success in later life. Children who exhibit chronic lateness often struggle with organisation in general. They may find it hard to keep track of personal items or forget to turn in homework. Helping them establish the habit of timeliness tends to have a positive ripple effect to other areas of life. Some children are inclined toward organisation and punctuality, while others take a more carefree attitude. The key to helping a child who is not in tune to the social norm of punctuality become more aware is to start teaching them early and below are a few ideas:
Set a bedtime: Ease your kids back into a consistent sleep routine one or two weeks before school starts. Kids ages 5–12 need 10–11 hours of sleep per day. Set a reasonable bedtime and stick to it.
Turn your child’s routine into a checklist: This is the best thing you can do to reduce family stress during the week. During the school year, most kids generally follow the same daily routine—take a shower, get dressed, etc. Instead of badgering your kids to get stuff done, work with them; create a personal checklist that includes personal care tasks and age-appropriate chores. Hold them accountable to finish their tasks. When you hear “but I didn’t know!” or “what should I do now?” send them to the chart. No more excuses.
Have the kids create their own calendars: Work with your kids to add after school activities to a virtual or physical calendar to help them see what their days will look like, and make the mental shift back to school. The earlier your kids start learning about calendaring, the more independent they will become—and the less you will have to do for them.
Put time on their side: While your kids probably know how to tell time, they may not understand why it is important. Help them to develop a greater awareness of time by buying a watch and teaching them how to gauge the amount of time needed to complete routine tasks.
Teach kids to plan: Being somewhere on time (whether it is a traditional classroom or the dining room table), prepared and ready to learn, requires planning. What time does your child need to get up in order to be ready on time? Post a checklist including what they need to do, and what time to do it so everyone is accountable for their own schedule.
Establish set meal times: Setting regular meal times for the entire family (e.g., 7 a.m. breakfast) will not only help kids become more aware of time, but it helps ensure time spent together as a family.
Establish rules for electronics (goodnight to all screens): We all know that it’s not good to be glued to screens 24/7. Many parents establish the “what, when, and how much” as it relates to screen time, but it’s also a great idea to set a concrete “bedtime” for technology, when all screens are turned off for the night. Yes, parents, too”.
Mr Udeozor Michael, a parent and a primary school teacher said: “Most parents want their children to know essential habits like managing money, work habits, how to learn and study, communication skills and correct hygiene. But, many have not considered helping them manage their time better?
To be fair, that is probably something most of us have not thought about. However, it had been observed that self-discipline — which happens to be the cornerstone of time management, is a better predictor of adolescents’ academic performance than IQ.
Here are some ways to teach kids some ideas on basic time management skills that will stick throughout life.
The first step is to set priorities: It is essential that kids learn to differentiate between ‘have-tos’ and ‘want-tos’ and learn to prioritise and self- monitor their activities in order of importance.
The second step is to help them measure time: “In order to make a realistic schedule, you need a good sense of how long things take. For example, give them a chart that breaks the afternoon and evening hours into 15-minute intervals. Each time slot is followed by three columns: what kids plan to do, what they actually did and reflection. The reflection piece is essential. By reassessing how they are spending their time gives them the chance to adjust their schedule accordingly.
Again, parents should make sure they do not over-schedule their kids. What happens when you overcommit and pack your calendar too tightly? You probably feel like you’re always on the go. More troublesome, you may feel like you’re always behind. And, you don’t have the wiggle room to address the unexpected.
It’s the same thing with kids. They also require downtime for solo play or to wind down at the end of the day.
Designate a study zone: If you have ever worked from home, then you know how important it is to have a dedicated workspace. I would even go as far as to say that this should be a top priority when it comes to time management.
This is because it lets you block out distractions like the TV or noisy family members, and it helps you distinguish between your work and personal lives.
The same idea is true when it comes to children. They should have a designated study area that is quiet and free from distractions so that they can focus on their homework.
Be a role model! Finally, the best way to help your kids get a better grasp of time management is to set a good example. Good modeling does not guarantee that children will do what we want them to do, but telling children ‘do as I say, not as I do’ definitely won’t work. You will want to keep your own goals under control, meaning that if you have been emphasising the importance of a schedule, and you are failing at time management, they will pick-up on this inauthenticity.
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