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8 Ways to Help Students Manage Their Time

By Lisa E. Stafford
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 30, 1998 – Even with summer in full swing, it's a good time to prepare for the next school year. Many elementary school students will be moving on to junior high -- also known as middle or intermediate school -- levels in the fall. Some won't be ready, simply because they lack time management and organizational skills.

Elementary school students normally spend most of their time every day with one teacher in one room at one desk. Starting with junior high school, they'll move from class to class and teacher to teacher. They have to create their own organizational and time management routines, and they may need your help to develop these basic aids early, whether they go to a DoD dependent or other public school, or a private school.

"You can instill them in your children no matter how young or old they are," said Pat Lambe, chief of the Office of Communications for DoD's Education Activity. First of all, parents and students should understand that responsibility for doing well in school lies mainly with the student. But parents can help get their students on the right track by helping them set up a good work environment and routine. Lambe outlined a few suggestions:

  • Set up a suitable, adequately lit and quiet work space free from distractions. Equip it with all the supplies needed.
  • A weekly planner and the right notebook make more of a difference than you might imagine. The planner can be used to record assignments and might also contain a section for recording grades from assignments and tests. This will help parents track their student's progress. A three-ring notebook binder with dividers organizes all the student's subjects. Clear plastic pockets hold items such as pens and pencils. Spiral-bound notebooks are not always a good choice -- they can be messy when stuffed with notes, tests and other papers.
  • Create a schedule that works specifically for your student. Not all have the same time management needs or priorities as adults. Set up a daily schedule reminder -- that's better than a daily nag.
  • Be sure to schedule breaks. Many young students can't work for more than 20 minutes at a time and still perform well. Instead of forcing your student to sit at a desk until the work is complete, schedule regular, short breaks. This is not a hard and fast rule -- parents should adjust according to the student's individual needs.
  • Beware of conflicts. The best time for homework is usually right after school while students are still wide awake and alert, but be flexible. Picking the wrong time will distract them, and they won't do their best.
  • Let your children know you're always available to help or answer questions if they run into trouble in a particular area.
  • Stick to the schedule. The schedule is meaningless if homework time becomes too flexible. However, special situations occur from time to time -- just make sure they're really special before allowing exceptions.
  • Use incentives, not threats. If you constantly threaten your child with punishment for not getting work done on time, a brick wall rises between you. Don't argue with your child, and don't automatically hand out a punishment.##

Point your Internet browser to the DoD Education Activity Web site at www.odedodea.edu for links to many other sites of possible interest to military parents and families.

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