Simple Tips to Teach Time Management Skills to Young Children

Image of a Clock for Teaching Time Management

It seems that each year that passes, we’re busier than ever before. In today’s culture of constant movement and “always-on” mentality, it’s important as parents that we learn how to teach time management skills to young children. Not only is it important for our children to understand how to manage their time, but also for them to learn the difference between what is “urgent” and “important.”

Teaching your children how to manage time can be tricky. The earlier you start, the easier it will be for your kids to understand the importance of time and how to keep pace with the constantly ticking clock.

While there are many great ways to help teach children time management skills, we’ll focus mainly on how to teach time management skills to young children.

Laying the Foundation for Lifelong Time Management

While toddlers aren’t necessarily ready to pull out a calendar and plan out a schedule on their own, we can certainly begin teaching them time management through routines and consistency. Here are some simple tips to help teach time management skills to young children:

As a parent set an example

Plan to leave 5-10 minutes early to drop your child off at school. This way, he never sees you in a rush, you’re leaving time for unseen problems like traffic or a lost shoe. Over time, this becomes a normal practice, not just for you but, for your child as well!

Don’t overschedule

Not just your child, but everyone in the family. Children learn from us so if we’re always running around with no time left in the day to relax and have family time, they will think that’s a normal way to live each day.

Plan ahead

Pick out school outfits the night before and explain that it will make waking up and getting ready for the day that much easier.

Understand the difference between important and urgent

This is something even adults struggle with. The important things are those that will improve our lives, help us achieve our goals, or help those we love. Urgent is just something that is demanding attention right now. Urgent is not always important. Help your child understand the difference so it will be easier for them to decide what to work on first.

Schedule TV time or technology time

It’s difficult to teach our children to limit television or technology or “screen” time if they see us not following the same behaviors.

Decide how much time your child should spend each day or week on the TV, game console, or tablet and, most importantly, stick to it.

Have your child set their own timer. Try placing 5 plastic chips in a bowl and each time he runs through a cycle on the timer, move one chip to the other bowl. When all 5 chips have been moved, he or she has reached the daily limit.

Create a schedule for daily routines

Like playtime, exercise, bedtime, and mealtime. By scheduling even these daily things, we’re not only teaching them schedules, we’re also showing them to make time for the important things.

Methods for Helping Children Understand Timeliness

When we teach time management skills to young children, it’s important not only to understand the concept of being on time but also to the consequences of not being on time. Here are a few methods for helping children understand on-time, being late, and tracking time.


Make a calendar of simple tasks you do each day along with each day of the week. Using magnets, removable stickers or even just a marker, together you can mark off each item your child accomplishes on time.Example of a simple task calendar used to teach time management skills to young children

An hourglass

Kids love hourglasses. It makes timing things fun. Even better, try making your own hourglass together and they’ll love it even more. Be sure to measure the time on the hourglass and associate the timing with things that can actually be done during that time. If the hourglass is a 2-minute timer, be careful not to use it to time something that takes 10 minutes.


If your child hits his goals all week, consider offering a reward like family game night (let him pick out the game) or family day at the park. If he doesn’t meet his goals, he doesn’t get the reward.

One of the most important skills that successful students have is knowing how to manage their time. By learning how to teach time management skills to young children, you not only help keep your own sanity but you also help your children to better their chances of success in school and later on in life.

Parent Resources

Parents magazine has a fun article to help teach your child how to tell time.

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