Today’s students generally have a greater number of demands placed on their time than students of a generation ago, so learning to make good use of that time has become even more important to ensuring success in school. Planning, prioritizing and scheduling is often something that schools don’t formally teach and expect that students will “pick up” along the way. Mastering this skill is especially challenging to students with attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD). Laying a foundation for this crucial skill is something that parents can do by helping their students do a better job of estimating how long it take to complete a task or get somewhere, and by getting them to pay attention to due dates.
Here are some helpful strategies:
Practice Time Estimation
Make a fun game out of predicting, timing, and checking your student’s estimates of the time needed for various activities. How long does it take to walk from the bedroom to the kitchen? How long does it take for a shower in the morning? Other home-based activities? To complete an assignment? Track the over/under-estimate by making a fun graph and use color to help your student see where over/under-estimates tend to occur. You can even utilize incentives for estimates that come within a certain amount of the actual time.
Use An Analog Clock
Digital clocks are easier to read, but a clock with moving hands gives students a better sense of how swiftly time passes.
Set A Timer To Motivate Targeted Behaviors
To help with transitions, for example, tell your student (s)he has five minutes to finish whatever (s)he is doing, and set an alarm to signal when time is up. Remember: The goal is to teach time awareness, not to count the number of times your student is late, so if (s)he goes over, a gentle reminder that “five minutes is up” is all you need provide.
Make Sure Your Student Begins Tasks Promptly
Children with ADHD often use delaying tactics—like sharpening a pencil—to put off doing tasks they find boring or challenging. Having your student do his/her work in a place where there are few distractions and where you can ensure that (s)he starts when (s)he said (s)he would. If punctuality is a problem, make it a rewardable goal.
Put It On Paper
Attach a daily to-do list to the refrigerator, and see that your student gets in the habit of crossing off accomplished tasks. Have her/him add personal reminders—like "bring lunch money to school" or "return library books"—and work together on prioritization. Model this behavior for your student by using your own checklists to improve time management at home.
Encourage your student to get in the habit of checking his/her planner on a regular basis. Make sure things are entered correctly - ADHD students tend to write things in the wrong place. See our previous post on using a planner for tips.
If a student has difficulty copying assignments, check to see there is more than one mode of assignment posting that the teacher is using and help him/her match the best means of recording the information to the situation.
If you have some additional suggestions that you have found to work, please share them. We would love your input.
Until next time.