5 Ways to Instill Student Time Management Skills


With student stress at an all-time high, now more than ever, children need tools that help reduce anxiety and promote clear thinking and problem-solving. Time management is one such tool.

When students are in control of their time and schedule, it leads to increased confidence, efficiency, and overall success. In this article, we’ll share five time management tips to help students achieve their goals and get more done in less time.

1. Prioritize Tasks and Plan Ahead for Assignments

When students struggle with time management, their school work and responsibilities often pile up, and the enormity of work can feel overwhelming (and, in some cases, crippling). One of the best ways to avoid this is to prioritize tasks and plan ahead.

Watch our Executive Function Coaches’ Favorite Strategies for Teaching Students How to Prioritize and Plan Ahead

“Students who are time blind, they don’t know how long it takes to do something,” explains Educational Connections Program Manager and Executive Function Coach Kathi Gould, M.Ed. “They say they have a half hour of homework, and they’re upstairs for three hours.”

Watch this clip to see two of Kathi’s favorite time management strategies to help students prioritize and manage their time, as well as plan out their weekly tasks:

2. Set Realistic Goals 

Another helpful time management strategy involves setting realistic micro goals for getting things done.

Trying to complete an entire research paper in one evening is unrealistic for most students. Trying to do so will only leave students feeling defeated and disorganized.

Instead, your child can set goals around what tasks they want to get done, when, and how they plan to do them. Here are some examples:

  • If your son has a big chemistry exam on Friday, he can set a goal of studying every afternoon (at a pre-determined time) for 30 minutes.
  • If your daughter has a big history paper due next week, she can try to set smaller goals to complete the paper in smaller chunks, like writing the introductory paragraph before bed.

3. Establish a Routine

Humans thrive on routine. Setting a schedule for yourself is a valuable time management tip for people of all ages.

When students fail to create a schedule for accomplishing weekly goals, they’ll likely end up feeling overwhelmed and disorganized. While some students keep detailed calendars and notes on their phones or laptops, others prefer a traditional pen and paper calendar or planner.

Time Frame for Starting Homework

Once your child determines which method works best for them, they should establish a structured routine for tackling their workload. They can start by choosing specific times of day to complete each task.

For example, maybe they study for one hour before bed. Or maybe during breakfast, they review their math or science notes.

Dedicating specific times of the day to individual tasks takes the guesswork out of when your child will get these things done and will soon become second nature. 

4. Utilize Time Wisely

While establishing a schedule is essential, what students do during those blocks of time will determine how productive they are. 

Starting the day by waking up early and having a healthy breakfast will fuel both their mind and body. Being productive, though, starts the night before. The average elementary student needs 9-12 hours of sleep per night, while middle and high school students need 8-10 hours of sleep each night, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

When your child sits down to do school work or test prep, they should eliminate distractions as much as possible. This might require them to work in a quiet space, like a library or study hall. They can also create a study group (in-person or online) with friends or other students.

Most importantly, cell phones should be put away, and TVs and other electronics should be turned off. Some students work best with music playing quietly in the background or other white noise. The key is figuring out what works best for your child’s individual productivity so they will make the most out of their time. 

5. Take Breaks

Although it’s important to work hard and stay on task, taking breaks is equally important. Without scheduled breaks, students will burn out and have a more challenging time retaining information.

Older students can set a timer for 30 to 45 minutes. When it goes off, they can stand up and stretch, take a short walk, or call a friend.

It’s best not to step away from schoolwork for longer than 15 minutes or to get distracted by electronics during study breaks. Doing so will make it difficult to refocus and get back to business.

Implementing Time Management Tips and Accountability for Continued Success

Setting a schedule, taking breaks, and planning ahead are just a few tips to help your child make the most of their study time and achieve academic goals.

At Educational Connections, we’re dedicated to helping every student realize their full potential by helping them learn study strategies that, over time, will turn into healthy habits.

Click below to chat with one of our Program Managers about the ways our tutors and executive function coaches can help your child learn to better manage their time this school year.