How to Teach Time Management Skills to Toddlers

Remember a time when you were running behind, trying to get the kids out the door in the morning? You were most likely the one that was anxious and stressed while the kids dawdled along, taking time to notice the new frost on the grass or the spider on the railing. While a live-in-the-moment attitude can be a refreshing reminder to parents to slow down, it can also be the cause of our perpetual lateness.

As adults, we know the important role time management plays in keeping our busy lives sane. Preschoolers, however, don’t have built-in time clocks to keep them on task. It’s up to us to teach them how to effectively manage time.

Follow a Routine

Follow a daily routine to teach your kids to be conscious about time. You most likely followed a routine when your kids were babies: eat, play, sleep, eat, play, sleep…Just take it up a notch to accommodate for your growing kids. Create routines for each portion of the day including morning, after school and evening. A predictable schedule gives kids comfort because they know what to expect and it allows them to become responsible for daily tasks. Stick to the routine as closely as possible to emphasize its importance.

Create a Family Calendar

Post a large calendar in the kitchen or another space where everyone has access to it. Fill it in with the important activities and events for the month. You could use stickers to mark birthdays or other occasions, or use a specific color marker for each family member’s activities. Review the calendar at the start of the week so your preschooler knows what is going on each day.

Talk about how you will manage your time effectively on the days when activities are scheduled. For example, if your daughter has dance every Tuesday evening, explain that she will do her homework before dance because after dance it will be time for bed.

Talk About Time

Preschoolers often don’t have a good concept of time. Casually talk about time throughout the day to nurture this development. In the morning, say, “We need to eat breakfast at 8 a.m. so we have time to brush our teeth and leave the house by 8:30.” Even though your child might not fully understand what you mean, she will begin to form an understanding as she grows.

Talk about time as you would with any other adult by telling your kids what time events start, what time you need to leave or how much time you have to travel somewhere.

Organize Your House

Organize your kids’ stuff and your own in a way that helps save time. Designate specific areas for backpacks, homework, your car keys, shoes and jackets. This will save time and confusion when everyone is rushing around in the morning. Arrange your kids’ bedrooms so they can do as much as possible by themselves.

Keep clothes organized, labeled or on low hangers so your kids can get dressed on their own. Make space for toys on shelves or in bins so your kids can easily put them away.

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