Help Students Learn to Manage Their Time

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Time Management for Middle School Students

Time management….it can be a challenge for adults, so it’s no wonder that students have difficulty!

When middle school students start to find greater demands on their time with (possibly) more classes and more activities, managing everything can get stressful!
And often, the extra activities or responsibilities end up being excuses for not finishing school work.

In my early years of teaching, I didn’t always know what to say when my 5th grade students told me they didn’t have time to do their homework (other than something like, “You must have had some time between 4:00 and 9:00…”).
There were all kinds of reasons for not finishing work

  • Sports practice or game
  • Instrument lessons 
  • A brother’s or sister’s game/practice/event of some kind
  • Parents took them shopping or out to eat

At that time I had one child (she was 2 when I started teaching), so I didn’t have the perspective of parents of school-age children – making sure I was getting my kids to their activities, getting all the house-related things done, and also making sure kids were completing their homework.
This made it a little difficult for me to relate to the students’ situations, but I tried to help them think about how much time they did have to do their work.


Time for Time Management 

Being involved in activities definitely reduces after-school time for schoolwork, but it doesn’t mean schoolwork can’t get done. Students can learn to manage their time, but they need to be shown how.

​There are many of us who, as adults, may not manage our time very well. And if a parent is not great at managing time, how will he or she teach their children to manage theirs? Even when adults are good at managing time, they don’t always think to teach their children how to do what they do.

Because parents/guardians might not talk about time management, I’ve spent many years teaching students (5th and 6th graders) how to find their available work time. 

Student Time Management: Create a Week at a Glance

sample week for time management

I make these planner-type pages and help students fill in a sample week, so they can see where their available time is.
When they fill in the practices, games, lessons, sibling practices, etc, they can then see what time is left in the day.

If homework is assigned Monday and the student has practice from 5 – 7:00:

  • The student can see that they have a chunk of time from 3:30-5:00 (when they probably also eat dinner) and then 7-9:00.
  • If homework completion can fit in those time slots, great! They can plan to use that time wisely.
  • If it’s not enough time, then they need to use another strategy to get things done.


One of the fun parts of using the calendar/planner is the color-coding! When I used this for my own planning as our family grew and our children had more commitments, I color-coded according to person (my son was green, oldest daughter orange, youngest purple, I was blue, and husband was red:-). 


Student Time Management: No ‘Wasted’ Time

If students’ chunks of time aren’t big enough to complete their work, students need to find other ways to get it done.
One of the strategies I share with students is to take backpacks and homework supplies in the car with them.

  • When one of my three children had practice, the others brought any work they had to do. Sometimes homework was completed sitting on a blanket in the grass or sitting in the bleachers. Sometimes it was completed in the car while we waited.
  • Do distractions occur when homework is done this way? Yes, they sometimes do. But, to me, using that time to work was better than losing an hour or two (or more, depending on travel time) and then having to do everything after we got home (especially if we still had to have dinner!)

blank weekly planner for student time management

I also suggest that students try to study while they’re driving to an event.

  • They can read over notes and quiz themselves.
  • If there are several people in the car, someone can quiz the student.
  • Student can quiz the driver if they’re the only ones in the car, or explain information to whoever is driving….this is a great way for a student to be sure his knowledge is solid.

It’s a good idea for students to put upcoming tests on their calendars and then work backwards to schedule their study time….so they could label the driving time as study time.

​Projects should go on the calendar too, so students can again work backwards to fit in the necessary time to complete them.

The great thing about a week at a glance like this is that students don’t have to depend on someone buying them a planner or printing out pages for them. They can write out their own schedule on their own paper and design it any way they’d like. Then they can post in it their room, on the frig, or keep it in a school binder.

As I mentioned, in the early days, I didn’t quite know how to respond to students who didn’t have time to do their work.
But now, time management is something I teach every year, to help avoid those “I didn’t have time because….” statements.

What time management strategies work best for your students (or children)?

Ellie

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Welcome to Cognitive Cardio Math! I’m Ellie, a wife, mom, grandma, and dog ‘mom,’ and I’ve spent just about my whole life in school! With nearly 30 years in education, I’ve taught:

  • All subject areas in 4th and 5th grades
  • Math, ELA, and science in 6th grade (middle school)

I’ve been creating resources for teachers since 2012 and have worked in the elearning industry for about five years as well!

If you’re looking for ideas and resources to help you teach math (and a little ELA), I can help you out!

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